Common Network Security Threats and How to Protect Against Them

In recent years, organizations have sought to protect sensitive data by encrypting communications, otherwise known as encryption. Unfortunately, this does not always guarantee security, as hackers can still gain access to the “full discussion”, regardless of the security measures built into the application. This means that encryption gives hackers free reign to operate before they can be detected and remediated. Network-based ransomware is a particularly alarming threat, as it does not require a human element to execute and bring an organization to its knees.

All that is needed is an active, unpatched workstation and an automated software update. Data can be compromised or completely lost on an infected device. What's worse is that many small and medium-sized businesses don't report ransomware attacks as they occur. According to CPO magazine, many ransomware attacks go unreported and more than half of all ransomware attacks begin with social engineering attacks.

Insider threats are another major issue for organizations of all sizes. Experts estimate that internal threats are behind approximately 50 percent of data breaches, according to McKinsey & Company. These incidents are often motivated by financial gain or negligence. While the thought process behind internal threats is gaining popularity in organizations, companies may not always be proactive in their security measures, as most network security defenses are configured to protect against external threats.

Organizations that store their data on a server using SQL may be vulnerable to an SQL injection attack. This type of attack first appeared in 1998 and occurs when a cyberattacker uses code to access, change, or destroy a company's private data. Attackers use vulnerabilities in their application software to create a false identity, manipulate company data, and even cancel transactions or change book balances. To protect against this type of attack, companies should regularly check their software for vulnerabilities and monitor the integrity of their files on an ongoing basis.

Hardware can also be a source of vulnerability if it has configuration errors or outdated protocols. Devices that have been infected by malware, such as routers, are a threat to the rest of the network. In addition, unauthorized devices and insecure BYOD devices on the network may not have the same security controls as authorized devices and are therefore more vulnerable. Virtually every computer network has vulnerabilities that leave them exposed to external attacks, and devices and networks remain vulnerable even if no one is actively threatening or attacking them.

They threaten business networks because malicious Internet traffic can travel between networks. Threat actors take action quickly once they learn about vulnerabilities, so IT and network teams should stay one step ahead. For companies with highly sensitive applications, segmenting the network in this way is useful because they may require additional credentials to enter different regions of the network. Machine learning and behavioral analysis platforms can study patterns in network traffic data and automation can send alerts via email or Slack to IT staff immediately once an anomaly is detected. Network security is the key to keeping sensitive information safe, and as more private data is stored and shared on vulnerable devices, network security will only grow in importance and need. This is dangerous because not every user on the network should have the ability to change network settings.

IT professionals need ongoing education and training to keep up to date on the latest security issues and threats so that they can more effectively implement promising network security solutions. Traffic from these networks won't show up in network scans unless they also use Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections, so IT equipment may go completely unnoticed by IT teams. Advanced network perimeter protection such as a next-generation firewall can be configured to send alerts when it detects abnormal traffic. It will help protect the company from third-party threats but it's also beneficial for all application users including IT and network employees. If data packets entering the network behave strangely it's an early warning sign for IT and security equipment. Using analytics to study traffic as it moves through the network is beneficial for long-term security because configuration errors are so difficult to find and resolve. Automation saves IT teams time and reduces the chance of creating another problem when trying to fix them.

Deb Magby
Deb Magby

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