5 Network Security Threats And How To Protect Yourself

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Network security is crucial for protecting sensitive information and keeping operations running smoothly. However, as technology evolves, so do the tactics of cybercriminals. In this article, we will explore seven of the most significant network security threats and provide actionable steps on how to protect yourself.

  • Encryption

Encryption is a technology that can be both beneficial and harmful. Many organizations have started using encryption to secure their sensitive data and communications. However, according to a recent Bloomberg report, the use of “end-to-end encryption” can create a false sense of security among consumers. This is because hackers can still gain access to the full discussion, regardless of the security measures implemented in the app. Encryption can give hackers a free pass to operate without detection until their eventual discovery and removal.

  • Ransomware

Network-based ransomware can pose a significant threat to an organization’s systems and data, especially as it can be executed without relying heavily on the human element. This threat can be successful with just an active and unpatched workstation and an automated software update. If an infected device is compromised, data can be lost entirely. This problem is further compounded by the fact that many small and medium-sized businesses fail to report ransomware attacks as they occur.

According to CPO Magazine, many ransomware attacks go unreported, and over 50% of ransomware attacks begin with social engineering attacks.

To protect against ransomware attacks, it is essential to take preventative measures, which include utilizing diverse backups, keeping antivirus software up-to-date, maintaining patch updates, installing file and system integrity monitoring software, and complying with regulations.

  • Malware

Malware is a type of malicious software that is designed to steal sensitive information or disrupt operations. Hackers use a variety of malware, including rootkits, viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware, to gain unauthorized access or control over networked devices. Viruses and Trojan horses can infect all systems connected to the network, while adware tracks browsing habits and spyware records personal information and sends it to the attacker. In mid-2022, a report recorded a staggering 2.8 billion malware attacks, representing an 11% increase compared to previous periods.

To protect yourself, it is essential to keep your software and operating system updated, as well as to invest in endpoint protection software. Additionally, it is crucial to be cautious when downloading and installing software from the internet.

  • Cloud Security

With the rise in popularity of cloud services for data storage and retrieval, cybercriminals have found ways to exploit the security of legitimate cloud platforms. While organizations trust these common cloud platforms, hackers can use them to wreak havoc, causing downtime and requiring significant resources for damage control.

Many organizations adopt a reactive approach to questionable activity, leaving them vulnerable to attacks that can result in significant losses. Recent incidents, such as one that cost the City of Tallahassee $500,000, demonstrate the severity of these threats. The attack was carried out using a phishing scam that used a Dropbox link containing a virus that infiltrated the payroll network.

As more services move to the cloud, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), organizations must remain cautious about their policies and procedures to prevent a false sense of security for their cloud-stored data. It is crucial to be proactive in implementing strong security measures and educating employees to avoid phishing scams and other common attack vectors. This way, businesses can protect themselves from the potential harm of cybercriminals co-opting legitimate cloud services.

  • Insider Threats

Insider Threats are a pervasive issue for organizations of all sizes. According to McKinsey & Company, experts estimate that insider threats are responsible for around 50 percent of data breaches. Such incidents are usually motivated by financial gain or negligence.

Although the concept of insider threats is gaining traction within organizations, most network security defenses are typically set up to protect against external threats, leaving enterprises vulnerable to internal risks.

Insider abuse can manifest in various forms, including remote access to sensitive data, unauthorized deletion of data, unauthorized access to shared folders, and the use of unapproved hardware or software. Enterprises may find that individuals with legitimate, authorized access to sensitive data may engage in illicit activity, often with minimal or no limitations on their access and authority. This highlights the need for consistent monitoring of suspicious activity.

To mitigate the risk of costly insider breaches, organizations can employ a file integrity monitoring (FIM) software, particularly an FIM tool that integrates with the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) strategy and emphasizes data integrity.

In conclusion

Network security threats are constantly evolving, and it is essential to stay vigilant and take proactive measures to protect yourself. By implementing robust security measures and educating employees on how to avoid these threats, you can help to mitigate the risk of a cyber-attack and protect your sensitive information.