A report from Positive Technologies revealed that over 31% of companies detected attempts to exploit their network security vulnerabilities. If you run an organization that has sensitive data, you are also at risk of losing your data through vulnerabilities. You can protect your IT infrastructure by taking measures to identify and remedy your network security vulnerabilities and threats.
What Are Network Security Vulnerabilities?
When there is an exploitable flaw in your software coding, hardware, or even in your organizational processes, it is referred to as a network security vulnerability. Network security vulnerabilities may be broadly categorized as hardware vulnerabilities or software vulnerabilities.
Common Types of Vulnerabilities in Network Security
Hardware network security vulnerabilities refer to flaws in storing and securing your hardware, whereas software network security vulnerabilities involve errors in your data and software that may be taken advantage of by a threat actor.
Let’s take a closer look at these common network vulnerabilities.
Hardware Network Security Vulnerabilities
Insecure and Unauthorized Wi-fi and Devices
Wi-Fi is highly convenient, but when it is not secured properly it can allow external devices to connect and get past your first line of defense — the firewall. You should ensure your Wi-Fi does not have default settings and is encrypted with a private and strong password as well as a private SSID so it is harder for unauthorized users to gain access.
You should also make sure that your employees are not using their own devices to carry out work tasks, as these devices are usually not up to proper security standards. Your business devices should be obtained from reputable vendors and should not be IoT devices. IoT devices become vulnerable endpoints because they are often poorly made and difficult to update and configure.
Poor Device Security
If your devices are not stored in a secure location, threat actors can get their hands on them and easily install malware through a USB to gain access to your sensitive data. If the device is stolen and it automatically connects to a VPN, the threat actor can also get inside your network and steal data.
Devices should be stored in a secure location and any easily transportable devices such as laptops, mobile devices, and tablets should be encrypted properly to ensure unauthorized access is prevented.
Software Network Security Vulnerabilities
Aside from these common physical cyber security vulnerabilities, your network also needs to be protected from nonphysical network security vulnerabilities.
A firewall works as a barrier and monitors your network traffic, either blocking or permitting data from entering based on your set security standards. If there are errors in the configuration of your firewall, it won’t block malicious traffic effectively and can let viruses and hackers into your computer networks.
You should make sure your firewalls are configured properly and that you have the right amount in place so they do not become a point of vulnerability.
Outdated software is unmaintained and this means it can not integrate with new applications and can easily fall prey to advanced cyber-attacks by malicious actors.
You need to ensure regular network vulnerability scans are conducted so these information technology vulnerabilities can be discovered and eliminated right away. If you no longer use a software, you should make sure to fully uninstall it so it does not become a vulnerable point of access.
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Types of Network Security Threats that Arise from Vulnerabilities
Both software and hardware network security vulnerabilities can lead to the threat of exploitation, cyberattacks, and data breaches.
QuickBooks Insights and Ponemon Institute’s State of Cybersecurity revealed that the most common types of attacks on small businesses are malware and social engineering attacks.
Any malicious software that is unknowingly installed on your devices is referred to as malware. According to AV Test Institute, over 560,000 pieces of malware are detected every day and most malware is sent through emails. If your systems are running slower, randomly starting unknown tasks, or rebooting on their own, it is likely one of your cyber vulnerabilities has been exploited through malware.
Some of the most common forms of malware that exploit your network vulnerabilities include ransomware, spyware and viruses. Ransomware works by locking users out of their system until they have paid a ransom amount. This threat is usually delivered through email attachments and instant messages. The unfortunate truth is that you likely will not regain access to your account even after paying the ransom amount, so this form of malware leads to significant financial and data losses.
Spyware and adware are usually installed on your device unknowingly when another software is downloaded. Spyware collects user information so it can be sold to advertisers, and adware serves unwanted advertisements on your device — slowing it down and making it hard to complete basic tasks.
Viruses are by far the most common form of malware threat that exploits system vulnerabilities. Viruses infect your system once they are clicked, and they can self-replicate and spread across your network at a rapid rate. When a virus gets into your system, it can log keystrokes, corrupt files and steal passwords and sensitive data.
Social Engineering Attacks
Aside from malware, social engineering attacks are another significant threat that exploits network vulnerabilities. These types of attacks in network security build false trust and use the inexperience of internal users to bypass authentication through providing false login, and password recovery forms in which users put their credentials.
Some of the most prevalent social engineering attacks include phishing emails, smishing and spear phishing.
Phishing email scams trick users into providing sensitive credentials or carrying out sensitive tasks such as transferring money or downloading an application. These emails build false trust with the user, often under the pretense of a reliable brand, so they can get you to provide them with usernames, passwords, and banking information. Smishing is similar to phishing emails but uses SMS text messages for the same purpose.
Spear phishing uses urgency and your personal information to get you to click a link. These emails usually come from threat actors posing as large financial institutions, warning you that you need to act fast to save your account.
Malware and social engineering attacks are common threats that your IT infrastructure may be exposed to if you have unchecked network vulnerabilities.To prevent such threats and attacks, you need to get to the root of the problem and identify old and new system vulnerabilities so they can be remedied as soon as possible.
Aside from malware and social engineering, other common threats that arise from vulnerabilities include:
If your information technology uses Structured Query Language (SQL) to store and manage data, you may be subject to an SQL injection attack. SQL injection attacks exploit your software security vulnerabilities through injecting malicious code into your network. This code allows the attacker to view your private data, so they can change or even delete it at will. Having a robust firewall and ensuring input validation is necessary to prevent such attacks.
Brute Force Password Hacking
Brute force password hacking is yet another common threat that may arise from network vulnerabilities, especially if your business IT relies on user authentication. In a brute-force attack, the hacker systematically attempts to decipher your passwords through a variety of number, letter, and symbol combinations. You can prevent these attacks by locking accounts after a certain number of wrong password attempts, or through blocking unknown devices and browsers from attempting to enter a password.
Protecting Against Network Vulnerabilities and Threats
Your network likely contains vulnerabilities that can be exploited through cyber attacks and threat actors. To remedy these vulnerabilities and protect your IT infrastructure from threats and attacks, you need to undertake vulnerability risk assessments, regular penetration tests and system audits — In order to identify your weak spots and fix them before a criminal is able to exploit them.
One of the best ways to do this is by getting in touch with an IT MSP who specializes in network security.
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Did you recently suffer a data breach? Do you want to protect your business data from exploitative threat actors?
Attentus Tech can help.
Attentus Tech is an IT-managed service provider and cyber security service provider that offers fully customizable support packages and affordable rates for your small business. Our team of skilled technicians is trained in cybersecurity and can help you identify and optimally remedy your cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our IT MSP services.