Thousands of data breaches happen every year – approximately 3,800 publicly disclosed breaches occurred in 2019, with an additional $4.1 billion compromised records leading to millions of dollars in losses. Many professionals are looking at the statistics and wondering what they can do to protect their organizations, as well as their employee base, from potential network security threats & vulnerabilities.
Whether you’re local or on the cloud, your network is potentially vulnerable, and can be susceptible to network security threats through breaches, malware, and other security threats.
To protect your business, it’s crucial to be aware of these security threats and the potential damage they can cause in the event of a breach or malicious attack.
12 Common Network Security Threats and Vulnerabilities
All data breaches and cyber-attacks start when a threat exploits weaknesses in your infrastructure. As a result, your network security vulnerabilities create opportunities for threats to access, corrupt, or take hostage of your network.
Any potential danger to your network must be considered a network security threat – however, security risks often begin with your infrastructure and its security.
Viruses are malicious programs written to change the way your software or computer system operates. They are designed to spread between hosts, from one computer to another – if one computer in your network becomes infected, your entire network is at risk.
Often, this malicious software is a result of the user downloading infected application files. The subsequent infected code can spread throughout the system and completely alter the system operations
- Email attachments
- Internet advertisements
- Updating software and programs
- Infected software
- Malicious websites
- Pirating music, movies, and software
Viruses are cybersecurity threats that will typically threaten your network when there are vulnerabilities to exploit. This includes using outdated antivirus software, or a lack of anti-spyware, firewalls, and backup systems.
Without adequate security measures, your network is consistently open to threats and vulnerabilities that may:
- Damage or disable programs
- Copy your passwords and send them back to their sender/creator
- Create fake traffic in your network leading to massive downtime
- Take over your computers’ processing power and memory
2. Insider Threats
Insider breaches typically occur as a result of actions from employees, former employees, or contractors. Although some of these breaches can occur from malicious attacks by employees, approximately 64% of insider threats are a result of employee negligent behavior or human error.
In order to block potential security threats within small businesses, business owners must establish a strong culture of security awareness in their organization. This includes creating employee cybersecurity policies, security threat training, and the implementation of additional security software to ensure that threats are identified and stopped before a potential breach occurs.
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Spyware is the malicious software (malware) that is designed to spy on your activities.
These programs embed deep into your computer files and programs, collecting sensitive information, including passwords, financial information, and employee identifications.
Like worms and viruses, spyware slows down your bandwidth and takes over other computing resources. It is categorized into Trojans, Adware, and tracking cookies.
Trojans are the seemingly legitimate programs that may be downloaded for your critical business functions. However, these programs may carry embedded malware that breaches security and clones sensitive data.
Conversely, Adware is the malicious and unsolicited advertising that shows us pop-ups on your computer or mobile device. Clicking on these advertisements allows the advertiser to track your online activities – additionally, it slows down your computer and can open the door for future attacks.
4. Ransomware attacks
Ransomware, much like viruses and worms, can replicate itself across the network. This malicious program has the ability to lock you out of your computer applications, or alternatively, out of your entire computer system until a stated ransom demand is met.
One of the ways Ransomware gets into your network is through phishing and spam attachments that can automatically open on your computer. This network security threat encrypts your files, computer, or network – if this escalates, your computer files can no longer be opened without a program key. The key is only granted when the attacker is paid.
5. Phishing attacks
Phishing is one of the most common network security threats where a cyber-threat gains access to your sensitive information through a social engineering scheme, and is often disguised as a fake email from a recognizable source. By clicking on it, you may inadvertently share your credentials and other critical data.
Occasionally, the attackers may send Ransomware or a worm through these emails, linking to a website that has the ability to harvest sensitive or encrypted information. A weak email security structure is the most significant vulnerability exploited by phishing scammers.
6. Rogue security software
This software misleads users into believing that there is a malicious attack on your network. As a form of ransomware, rogue security software often convinces users to pay a fee to have their network cleared of the false “attack.”
These programs will also offer to clean up your system using a fake antivirus software. Once this is downloaded, you may end up installing malware on your computer.
7. DOS and DDOS attack
A denial-of-service DDoS attack happens when a threat overwhelms your network resources with traffic, preventing users from accessing crucial applications. A DOS attack eventually takes down your network through:
- Excessive amounts of false traffic directed to your network address (Buffer overflow)
- Multiple and fictitious connection requests to your server (SYN flood)
- Confusing data routing in your network, causing it to crash (Teardrop attack)
DOS attacks don’t steal or damage your data. Instead, they aim to cause massive downtimes and extensive damage to your quality of service.
A DDOS or distributed denial of service attack is a DOS attack that happens through the use of several devices in your network. The damage scope in a service DDOS attack is broader, given that there are many computers involved on both the attacker’s end, and your network.
A rootkit is a threat in the form of computer software that is designed to give the attackers unauthorized remote access to your computers and network. Rootkits work subtly, copying passwords and disabling antiviruses until it is completely through to your network.
A rootkit can arrive in your system through legitimate software. This malicious software can make its way into your network when you install the software and cause severe cybersecurity risks.
9. SQL Injection attacks
SQL injection is among a form of network security threats where the attacker sends information to websites or web applications that are overlooked by other security measures. The attackers are then able to delete, modify, or add data into your SQL database. SQL attacks affect websites and web apps that use an SQL database.
The attack compromises individual machines, but can also affect the entire network. SQL and other injection flaws happen when there is insufficient or unreliable scanning of data in the database query.
10. Man-in-the-middle attacks
This is a vulnerability that allows attackers to spy on or alter the communication between devices in your network. A man-in-the-middle attack could lead to the installation of viruses, warms, or Ransomware. Cybercriminals can carry out MITM through:
- IP spoofing
- DNS spoofing
- HTTPS spoofing
- SSL hijacking
- Wi-Fi hacking
- Machine learning
11. Hidden backdoor programs
A computer device manufacturer or software designer can develop tools to allow your system to be accessed via a backdoor. Usually, this is for use in technical support and diagnostic purposes. However, attackers can take advantage of this vulnerability to access your computer and networks illegally.
12. Superuser accounts
Superuser accounts can turn into network vulnerabilities. These accounts have unlimited privileges, data, and devices and are often used for administrative purposes by IT team leaders.
The user can create, modify, and delete files, install software, or copy information. If a cybercriminal gets hold of such an account, the damage to your network and your business could be catastrophic.
*13. Neglecting Regular Patching and Updates
One extra network security threat that is both common sense and unfortunately commonplace: neglecting regular patching and updates. Having to constantly apply new patches and install updates can be tedious. However, failing to do so leaves your business vulnerable to flaws that have been fixed by your hardware and software vendors.
Remaining vigilant to potential network security threats
The above are examples of the common types of network security threats and vulnerabilities, but these are not the only threats to be on alert for. Keeping track of your internal and external network security threats can be a challenging and costly undertaking, especially when your business needs to focus on critical growth. It’s difficult to give full attention to your network security when your small IT team has to think about technical support and break/fix issues.
In order to decrease the risk, you’ll need to engage in regular audits and penetration tests of your systems to identify network security threats and solutions. It’s crucial to implement controls from two-factor authentication to firewalls, as well as engage in policies, procedures, and guidelines for dealing with your current and future network security threats and vulnerabilities.
At Resolute, we have the technology and skills to attain impenetrable and efficient networks for our clients. Contact us today to formulate a threat intelligence framework that addresses all the modern network security threats that your business is up against.