With an increasing reliance on remote work and digital communication, businesses are facing more cyber security risks than ever before—and closing your network vulnerabilities is the key to minimizing that risk.
Take ransomware, for instance (just one of the types of attacks in the network security landscape). Ransomware is a type of attack where a hacker has gained access to a business’s sensitive information. This locks out access to critical systems or encrypts data to hold the information hostage for a large sum, sometimes in the millions.
In 2020 alone, ransomware attacks cost US businesses $915 million dollars.
In this article, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the most common types of information security vulnerabilities and what you can do to either prevent or minimize the risk of being the target of one of these harmful security breaches.
What are Network Vulnerabilities?
Generally speaking, a network vulnerability is a gap or weakness within your hardware, software, or internal processes.
These cyber vulnerabilities are exploited by hackers and bad actors in an attempt to steal data, launch a phishing attack, deliver a distributed denial-of services (DDoS) attack, infect your system with malware, ransomware, a trojan horse or any other type of cyber attack.
The Three Main Types of Vulnerabilities in Network Security
Various network vulnerabilities that hackers target for a data breach can, and often do, include every element of your network such as:
Each of these vulnerability types needs to be taken seriously when organizing your cyber security because each one presents its own set of unique challenges.
Hardware-Based Network Security Vulnerabilities
Any hardware that’s connected to your network is a potential access point to your private data.
Hackers have developed all sorts of nefarious methods for gaining unauthorized access. Let’s take a look at the types of network security threats for hardware, so you can be better prepared.
Firewalls act as a gateway to the internet, allowing or disallowing online traffic based on administrator configurations.
The role of a firewall is to keep the good traffic flowing through and keep all the suspect traffic out. However, configurations that exist as default settings can sometimes install unnecessary services that unknowingly allow bad traffic to pass through.
Oftentimes, the best way to find out if your firewall isn’t configured correctly is by having a penetration test performed by seasoned experts.
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Unsecured Wi-Fi Access Points
Wireless networks are one of the biggest network vulnerabilities for any individual, which goes double for businesses and organizations.
Gaining access to a Wi-Fi network means the hacker just completely side-stepped your firewall, and now essentially has the keys to the kingdom. Once connected to your network they can search for publicly posted passwords, alter settings, steal data, install any type of malware they want, and generally rob you blind.
That’s why it’s so important to always have a password associated with every Wi-Fi access point. Ideally, you’ll be changing these passwords once a month and use multi-factor authentication as well.
Poorly Protected, Unauthorized Devices
In today’s high-speed, digital world, it’s not enough to simply protect and encrypt devices that are on the company’s premises. More often than not, employees will use their own personal devices to complete work and access company data, and this poses a massive security threat.
This glaring cyber vulnerability is capitalized upon by hackers because it’s common for a personal device to have far fewer protections than a company equivalent. But, once the personal device connects to your VPN and the hacker knows about it, they might as well be using a company computer in person, because that’s the level of access to your data they now have.
Any personal devices that employees use to perform company work need to be vetted by your IT department or provider so that the appropriate encryption and protections can be installed.
If you’re not sure what your level of risk is for employee personal devices, you should get a vulnerability assessment done to determine the likelihood of a security breach.
|Want to Learn More About Cyber Security & Vulnerability Assessments? Check out these Blogs.|
Software-Based Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities
From operating systems to outdated applications and everything in between, even basic networks can have massive cyber vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Here, we’ll go into the most common network vulnerabilities that software can possess.
Old & Buggy Software
Outdated software that is forgotten about and remains on your network is yet another access point for hackers and a vulnerability in your cyber security that poses a real risk.
Frequent cyber security risk assessments can catch these vulnerable programs, but if you haven’t gotten one in a while, likely those old applications haven’t received a patch lately, and their plug-ins and add-ons are susceptible to hacking.
Even in-house written code with buggy zero-day exploits are prime targets for bad actors and need to be mitigated as much as possible with a thorough sweep of your IT environment.
Unlicensed Software Downloads
A very common vulnerability in cyber security is when an employee downloads a piece of software that the IT management department doesn’t know about, and was provided from an unreputable source.
Ironically, it’s sometimes the case that the current safeguards in your IT environment are too restrictive, and the employee has downloaded this software to solve a work-related problem that they couldn’t troubleshoot before.
This type of vulnerability in network security is entirely avoidable by having your IT provider communicate frequently with your employees.
Human/User-Based Network Security Threats & Vulnerabilities
Untrained and unsuspecting users are easily one of the biggest factors on any network vulnerabilities list. People are fallible by nature and prone to making mistakes. That’s why we’ll take you through a few of the most common network security threats and vulnerabilities posed by the human element.
Weak Passwords & Poor Authentication Practices
People tend to create easy-to-guess, weak passwords because they’re easy to remember. But, that’s exactly what makes them the largest vulnerability in cyber security.
The best way to help your employees create strong passwords is to use a password manager since it removes the need to remember them. Also, employing the services of a password checker can help determine if stronger passwords are needed.
Additionally, setting up multi-factor authentication removes the possibility of one lucky guess costing you possibly millions of dollars in losses.
Social Engineering & Deception
Too often, a common network security vulnerability results from ordinary people simply being tricked and/or duped.
Phishing attacks and scams operate on the principle of social engineering whereby a hacker will send a request for sensitive information or a money transfer to an employee from what looks to be a reputable email address.
The difference can be as minimal as “[email protected]” compared to “[email protected]”, where only one of those email address examples is the one that belongs to the real employer.
Phishing attacks are surprisingly successful, on average, but can be seriously mitigated, even prevented entirely with proper employee training and education.
Protecting Your Business from Cyber Security Vulnerabilities and Threats
If it feels like you’re always putting out cybersecurity fires as they crop up, and never getting ahead of the problem, you likely need a reliable outsourced cybersecurity firm to handle day-to-day IT monitoring and management.
At CP Cyber, we’re highly equipped to defend your business from any type of attack in network security, and we’ve got the numbers and experience to back that up.
Reach out to us today for a free quote and consultation, and get a handle on your cybersecurity once and for all.