What are the most common network security threats?
Even though the internet has brought a lot of convenience for the average user…
It has also increased the security threat to the huge amount of sensitive user information being exchange over networks. The recent increase in data breaches has also lead to regulatory bodies taking a tougher stance with regards corporate responsibility for data breaches.
In fact, according to this report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach is $ 3.92M.
However, a proper network security threat analysis will help you stay ahead of attackers and in compliance with data security regulations.
But what are the most common network security threats to your organization?
In this article, we are going to look at the most common network security threats that you should look out for.
They are the network security threats that most malicious hackers seek to exploit to break into your network.
I will also finish this list of common threats to network security threats by outlining 3 techniques that you can use to identify and fix these security loopholes before an attacker gets to exploit them.
So, you’ll not only learn the common security threats to your network, but also how to remedy them.
Let’s get started.
A virus is a program that is capable of replicating itself and spreading into other computers in a network.
It is one of the most common network security threats that security professionals have to deal with from day to day.
They can corrupt data and files on your computer, steal sensitive information like passwords as well as make a computer or network inoperable.
A virus could be sent as an email attachment or through a program that you download from the internet and install on your computer. Threat actors are now also using more sophisticated attacks to evade common antivirus protection, including polymorphic viruses that require multiple antivirus detection layers to block these types of threats.
So installing an antivirus software on all networked devices and systems will help prevent these viruses from infecting and replicating on your system.
2. Trojan Horse
A trojan horse is a malicious computer program designed to look like a legit program you already recognize to trick you into installing it.
Together with viruses, trojans are the most common network security threats to computer networks that a hacker could use to cause a data breach.
Once in your system, the trojan horse can alter your data, destroy information or steal sensitive info like passwords.
It is able to steal your passwords by logging all your keyboard strokes as well as hijacking your webcam.
It can be spread through email attachments, downloaded software or false ad links.
Spyware is a malicious program that poses a common network security threat by gathering confidential and sensitive information about a person or organization.
Once installed in your network of computers, a spyware will gather this confidential information and send it over to a third party without the knowledge or consent of the network users.
Anyone with access, could gain access to your computer and install the spyware without your knowledge.
Often times a spyware may contain keyloggers that record personal information like email addresses, passwords and even credit card information.
Rootkit is a type of program that stealthility runs on your system while also hiding certain existing programs and processes on your system from being detected by normal detection methods.
It is a huge network security threat as it enables an attacker remote access to control and execute code on the infected device.
Because of the level of stealth with which it runs, it can be extremely difficult to remove once infected.
It comes with a number of tools to perform various malicious actions like key logging, stealing passwords and deactivating your antivirus software.
Once installed on your system, it waits for the hacker to activate it remotely and gain privileged access.
5. Social Engineering
Social engineering is one of the common network security threats that attackers exploit on a daily basis to gain unauthorized access to your network.
It is where the hacker performs psychological tricks on a user or company employee to trick them into giving away sensitive information like usernames and passwords.
For example, an employee receives a call from someone claiming to be part of the new tech support team.
He asks for the employee’s username and password in order to “run some updates” on the back end.
The unsuspecting employee happily hands over the credentials which are then used by the hacker to gain unauthorized access to a network and perform malicious actions that could lead to data loss.
6. DoS & DDoS
DoS, which means Denial of Service, is where an attacker floods a server with an avalanche of requests than it can handle within a short period of time.
Them aim of this very common network security threat is to overwhelm the server, cripple it and make its temporarily inaccessible.
It can lead to huge revenue loss especially if you run an online product store or offer services online as your customers will not be able to access you.
DDoS, distributed denial of service is when a DoS attack is achieve by bombarding a server with requests from various locations.
This is achieved through the use of a botnet, a collection of computers that have been compromised by malware.
If these terms confuse you, read my compilation of the most used ethical hacking terminology here.
When multiple machines are used to launch a DoS attack it can be difficult to pinpoint the culprit machine and block them as they could be thousands at once.
However, implementing a strong and effective firewall will help you capture, filter and discard malformed requests from these zombie drones before they reach the target networked device.
It could be a great way to protect yourself from this common network security threat.
Phishing is a type of email scam where an attacker sends you a fake but legitimate looking email in a bid to deceive you into divulging sensitive personal information.
According to CPO magazine, phishing is an increasingly common threat to network security used to steal credit card details and user passwords.
It could be an email purporting to come from your bank, asking you to login and update your information for security purposes.
Once you click the link to login, you are taken to a web page that looks exactly like that of your bank.
After you input your credentials and try to login, all your information is stolen because your login credentials are sent to the attacker instead of your bank.
Here are three tips to keep you safe from phishing attacks:
- don’t open or read emails from questionable senders
- don’t click any link you find in a suspicious email
- don’t reply to suspicious emails, delete…
While phishing attacks are hard to avoid as the senders employ very sophisticated social engineering tactics…
Thanks to domain sender policies, email servers are able to identify, blacklist these servers and send their emails direct to your spam folder.
So if you go to your spam folder and start clicking around…
Well, that’s your problem now.
Those are the 7 most common network security threats you should watch out for.
But how do you actually “watch out” for them?
Let’s finish by looking at the 3 network security measures and techniques that you can implement to keep yourself safe from some of these threats.
a. Bolster access control measures
Access is a very important aspect in bolstering security and defending yourself from common network security threats.
So, weak access control measures will leave your network susceptible to unauthorised access.
For example, ensure employees use strong passwords by implementing password strength checkers and two-factor authentication whenever possible.
b. Always install software updates & security patches
Most software come with security vulnerabilities that are later discovered and security patches developed.
So when a new version of an operating system or server software is released, they always contain fixes to these vulnerabilities that could pose a threat to your network.
First, ensure all computers in your network run the same operating system, then maintain a strict schedule of installing security patches and updates.
c. Carry out proper employee training
Some network security threats that lead to data breaches are only successful because of a weak link within the organization.
It is very common for an attacker to employ social engineering tactics on an unsuspecting employee to share confidential information that is then used to compromise the company network.
Through proper security training, your employees will understand network security policies, how to identify security threats and who to contact to prevent a breach.
As a network security professional the responsibilities of securing the organization network from these common network security threats lies on your should.
In order to stay on top of your game, you need to keep acquiring new skills and networking threat remediation techniques.
What’s a better way to advance your network security skills than to take some part time network security course?
It is for this reason that I put together this review of the best network security courses.
By taking any one of these courses, you’ll learn from other experienced security professionals how to secure your company from these common network security threats.
Even though you might not be able to secure your network 100% from these threats, fixing the most common ones is the first step in the right direction.
The reason you are never done is because the hackers don’t sleep, and are always developing new attack vectors and tools to circumvent your security measures.
I hope this list of the common network security threats has helped you identify the most vulnerable areas in your network to fix.
Even though there are many other network security threats, I only mentioned the most common ones.
Which are some of the common network security threats that are missing from this last?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.