United States businesses are the most targeted sector of data breaches.
With more than 155 million records exposed annually and over $4.2 billion in total damages, network security threats and vulnerabilities are rising in severity and impact.
Without the right solutions and services in place, your organization may be at increased risk.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some common network security threats and solutions used by businesses to resolve these issues.
What are Network Security Vulnerabilities?
Network security vulnerabilities are weaknesses in an organization’s processes and infrastructure. When those flaws become compromised, they can result in a security breach.
At the broadest level, a network security threat can fall into three categories:
- Physical Vulnerabilities: Any weaknesses in a data system or its hosting environment that can impact hardware and its computer networks are physical vulnerabilities.
- Non-Physical Vulnerabilities: These involve data, software, and operating system vulnerabilities that are exploitable by malicious actors. By conducting routine maintenance, updates, and patches, non-physical vulnerabilities can be better avoided.
- Human-Based Vulnerabilities: The weakest link in most cybersecurity architectures are human-based vulnerabilities such as user errors which can expose sensitive information, disrupt your systems, and create exploitable access points. One way organizations deter these threats would be through cybersecurity awareness training.
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An Overview of Some Common Network Security Threats
Now that you’re familiar with the types of network security threats, let’s go over the most common threats faced by businesses and how to solve them. Our list showcases the ten most common internal and external network security threats to know.
1. Physical Device Security
Cyber attackers often gain access to an internal network through unsupervised physical access to devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
In some cases, cybercriminals have even mailed USB drives with malicious code and malware that have allowed them to penetrate an organization’s network to steal sensitive data.
2. Misconfigured Firewalls
Your firewall serves as a crucial line of defense against an impending cyber attack. Without a properly configured firewall, your security risk increases significantly as your firewall won’t be able to prevent unauthorized network access or blacklisted IP addresses from impacting your network.
3. IoT Devices
There’s been a significant surge in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Operating as “smart” devices, IoT devices have the ability to transfer data within a network but often lack adequate protection from cyber threats. Additionally, on-premises IoT devices, such as smart thermostats and surveillance cameras, are often overlooked as potential network vulnerabilities. To curb your IoT vulnerabilities, IoT security and access control are essential.
4. Poorly Configured Wi-Fi
An organization’s office and remote employees depend heavily on the use and connectivity of wireless internet connections. Without a well-configured router and network, cyber attackers can penetrate your network, steal data, and create more exploitable access points to open a breach.
Two common ways organizations secure their Wi-Fi connection would be:
- Using WPA2 encryption
- Changing default passwords to a strong password
5. Single-Factor Authentication
Single-factor authentication (SFA) is an authentication method that relies on one factor to verify the identity of a user. The most common SFA is a username and password combination, such as those used for authentication to online banking and social media platforms.
The problem with SFA is that it can be easily bypassed by malicious actors who have compromised business email credentials (BEC). A couple of ways that a business can strengthen its authentication stance would be by using two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) instead of single-factor authentication.
6. Outdated Software
In the early years, software updates were few and far in between and were often released to introduce new features and improve user experience.
However, given the ongoing evolution and complexity of network security threats, software updates have grown more routine and frequent as new versions of software aim to eliminate bugs and other network security vulnerabilities.
Without routine software and ensuring your operating systems are up-to-date, you increase your organization’s security risks and liability. To better prevent these liabilities, ensure your software and systems are always up-to-date.
7. Inadequate Password Protection
Many employees don’t use strong enough passwords because they overlook security risks or aren’t aware of them.
Regrettably, this causes huge security concerns for an organization as it enables hackers to access work accounts, steal company information, and create additional gateways to a company’s network. To avoid these risks, only strong passwords should be used.
Additional support for enhanced password protection comes in the form of password generators, password managers, or multi-factor authentication.
8. Unsecured Email Solutions
Despite business email compromise (BEC) only accounting for 4% of data breaches, it averaged the highest cost at $5.01 million per breach.
The reason for this is that hackers know human-based vulnerabilities are one of the best ways to hunt for sensitive data, intercept private messages, create unauthorized network gateways, and spread malware.
To combat email vulnerabilities, organizations should:
- Use strong passwords for email credentials
- Monitor their employee’s email habits
- Use two-factor authentication
- Avoid interacting with phishing emails
- Never access email on a public WiFi network
- Not open attachments without first scanning them
- Never access email on a public WiFi network
- Use email security and anti-spam solutions
9. Mobile Device Vulnerabilities
Employees often use their phones on-premises or as part of their company’s BYOD policy.
Despite being a useful asset, there are many ways for mobile devices to turn into network vulnerabilities. For example, the physical theft of a phone that is connected to a corporate network can provide cyber criminals with access to sensitive information.
Additional mobile device vulnerabilities include:
- Phishing attacks
- Mobile ransomware
- Device and OS exploits
- Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks
- Advanced jailbreaking and rooting techniques
To reduce mobile device network threats, companies should implement mobile security measures by:
- Establishing a clear mobile usage policy
- Segmenting data and apps on enterprise devices
- Encrypting and minimizing the visibility of devices that have company network access
- Installing mobile device security software
- Monitoring user behavior
- Using a managed service provider that offers endpoint protection services
10. Social Engineering Attacks
Cyber attackers have been leveraging social engineering attacks to bypass authentication and authorization protocols to access a company network.
With phishing attacks accounting for 17% of data breaches, it’s evident that malicious actors are exploiting employees as they tend to be an organization’s weakest network security link.
Additional types of social engineering attacks include vishing, smishing, tailgating, spear phishing, shoulder surfing, and dumpster diving.
Some ways organizations prevent social engineering attacks would be by:
- Conducting penetration testing
- Enabling a spam and email filter
- Using multi-factor authentication
- Using a managed service provider
- Verifying an email sender’s identity
- Paying attention to their digital footprint
- Continuously monitoring the performance of their critical systems
- Utilizing next-generation cloud-based web application firewalls
New Network Security Threats Emerging in 2022
Now that you know the most common network security threats that businesses have to deal with, let’s take a look at the latest emerging security threats to watch out for:
- Fileless malware: Unlike traditional malware, fileless malware does not require a cyber attacker to install malicious code into a target system. Generally, most fileless malware attacks originate as phishing attacks and remain undetected until it’s too late.
- 5G-based swarm attacks: Swarm attacks aim to infect multiple devices at the same time and often work towards achieving additional exploitable vulnerabilities. As the adoption of 5G technologies and networks continue to rise, so too do high-bandwidth attacks.
- Cloud computing vulnerabilities: More than 60% of all corporate data is stored in the cloud – a significant rise from 30% in 2015. As more businesses turn to the benefits of cloud computing, it has opened the door for cybercriminals to exploit cloud vulnerabilities such as:
- Insecure APIs
- Open S3 buckets
- Lambda command injection
- Misconfigured cloud storage
Eliminate Network Security Vulnerabilities With CalTech
Defend your computer networks with our OneDefense network security threat protection.
Avoid Modern Network Security Threats With CalTech
Network security vulnerabilities come in many shapes and sizes.
If left unchecked, they can evolve into IT issues that result in:
- Data loss
- Revenue loss
- Regulatory sanctions
- Reputational damages
This is a risk that your business can’t afford to take. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
With CalTech in your corner, you can reduce your organization’s network security vulnerabilities with a trusted managed service provider that has more than 34 years of experience.
Having supported more than 160 companies and 12,000 end-users, our local and remote IT technicians know how to protect your business against current and evolving network security threats.
Ensure maximum protection for your business, data, and processes by contacting us today to find out how we can help strengthen your network security.