It’s an unpleasant truth that businesses must face: Between vulnerabilities and the ever-changing IT landscape, network security risks continue to evolve and underline the need for vigilance.
To that end, proactive network managers know they should routinely examine their security infrastructure and related best practices and upgrade accordingly.
Trends in Network Security Risks
Threats are continuously shifting, evolving, and growing in terms of sophistication and severity.
Some of the current, top cybersecurity risks include:
- Remote Work: Following the 2020 lockdowns, many more employers are now offering remote or hybrid working arrangements. These arrangements raise a host of new challenges for cybersecurity professionals, including home office security, BYOD policies, and more.
- Ransomware: The threat of ransomware isn’t new. However, the volume of such attacks has increased in recent years. When paired with the more sophisticated phishing and social engineering methods of modern-day cyber attacks, ransomware is a threat to keep your eye on in the coming years.
- Cloud Services: Cloud-based applications offer many benefits to organizations, like cost savings, scalability, and more. However, attackers often target such services to get at organizational data. Insider threats, unauthorized access, and other challenges can make your cloud services points of vulnerability for your organization.
With these trends in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top network security risks and how you can address them in your organization.
Encryption is a double-edged sword. In recent years, organizations have looked to protect sensitive data by scrambling communications, what we know as encryption. “End-to-end encryption” can create a false sense of comfort for consumers, Bloomberg recently reported. The reality is that a hacker can control the device in a variety of ways, including gaining access to the “full discussion regardless of what security precautions are built into the app you are using.” Encryption essentially gives hackers free rein to operate prior to their eventual detection and remediation.
Network-based ransomware can cripple systems and data. This threat is particularly alarming as it does not rely heavily on the human element to execute and bring an organization to its knees.
Many times, to be successful with an attack, an active and unpatched workstation and an automated software update are the only set of needs. Data can be compromised or lost altogether on an infected device. And further compounding the problem is the fact that many small to medium-sized businesses do not report ransomware attacks as they occur.
As CPO Magazine noted, many ransomware attacks go unreported, and more than half of all ransomware attacks begin with social engineering attacks.
Preventative measures against ransomware include:
- Using Diverse Backups
- Keeping Antivirus Up-To-Date
- Maintaining Patch Updates
- Installing File and System Integrity Monitoring Software
- Compliance Maintenance
Learn more about how businesses can be prepared for ransomware.
3. DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks come at a real cost. The severity and frequency of DDoS attacks have many network managers concerned. Hackers infiltrate organizations by flooding websites and networks with questionable traffic. Two avenues are emboldening criminals in their nefarious endeavors. “DDoS for hire” services are one means through which hacking/attack skills are offered in exchange for money.
The other channel used is the wide adoption of Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology. IoT widgets with poor security defenses are easy targets. Defending against DDoS attacks doesn't have to be a challenge. Ways to help defend against DDoS attacks include:
- Identifying unusual traffic activity
- Using the needed amount of bandwidth
- Avoiding the wrong response to extortion attempts
- Immediate contact with your ISP
- Developing a Comprehensive Approach to DDoS Security
4. Insider Threats
Insider threats continue to infect organizations of all sizes. Experts estimate that insider threats are behind roughly 50 percent of data breaches, according to McKinsey & Company. Such incidents are usually driven by financial gain or negligence.
Though the thought process behind insider threats is gaining popularity within organizations, enterprises may not always be proactive as the majority of network security defenses are configured to protect from external threats.
Insider abuse can include but is not limited to:
- Remote access to sensitive data
- Unauthorized deletion of data
- Unauthorized access to shared folders
- Unapproved hardware/software
Organizations may find that those who already have legitimate, authorized access to sensitive data operate illicitly, many times with few or no limitations on their access and agency. This reality underlines the need for consistent monitoring of suspicious activity.
Utilizing a file integrity monitoring (FIM) software can help reduce the risk of costly insider breaches, especially a FIM tool with integrity that helps with Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) strategy.
5. Cloud Security
The security behind legitimate cloud services is being co-opted. As more organizations gravitate toward the cloud for data storage and retrieval, hackers have found a way in. They use the same legitimate services but may have ulterior motives and can wreak havoc.
Organizations can be left vulnerable as they have come to trust common cloud platforms and take a reactive approach to any questionable activity. This comes at a huge cost to them in the form of downtime and leveraging resources to do damage control.
Several incidents have been reported recently, including one affecting the City of Tallahassee and resulting in an initial loss of $500,000 from the city’s human resources department. According to a previous Tech Times article, a Dropbox link was used in a phishing scam from the email account of the city manager. The link contained a virus allowing hackers to infiltrate the payroll network and induce panic.
As Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) continues to grow, and services move to the cloud, organizations still need to be wary of policies and procedures that can lead to a false sense of responsibility and security for data in the cloud.
6. SQL Injection
For many organizations, company data is stored in a server using SQL. As a result, your company data may be vulnerable to an SQL injection attack.
First appearing in 1998, an SQL injection attack occurs when a cyber attacker uses code to access, change, or destroy private company data. Attackers use vulnerabilities in your application software to create a fake identity, manipulate company data, and even void transactions or change balances in the books.
Regularly check your software for vulnerabilities to protect against this type of attack. You will also want to monitor your file integrity continuously to remediate changes that occur as a result of SQL injection attacks.
7. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
Also known as a MIM attack, a “man-in-the-middle” attack occurs when an attacker “eavesdrops” on communication that should be private.
In this type of attack, the attacker may intercept an email, chat, or another message between two parties. They can then use their access to spoof messages, alter data, or engage in social engineering attacks.
Some examples of MIM attacks include:
- Wi-Fi hacking
- IP spoofing
- SSL hijacking
- DNS spoofing
How To Defend Against Network Security Risks
For many in IT, network vulnerabilities might not be emerging risks but oversights. The continual challenge of maintaining compliance and maintaining the integrity of the enterprise IT infrastructure is not always standardized.
Utilizing file and system integrity monitoring software, specifically one with auditing capabilities, flexible response options, and automated detection processes, may decrease the risk organizations face daily.
Network-wide file and system integrity monitoring can establish total accountability with audit trails that cannot be altered. It should also offer unique, advanced protection against threats by providing admins with the ability to restore systems and files to a prior state immediately.
To see for yourself how CimTrak can protect your business from the most insidious security risks, check out our Instant Preview. You can also learn more about File Integrity Monitoring by accessing our free resource, the FIM Brief, today.
January 19, 2023