Your Guide to Common Network Vulnerabilities
A large percentage of small businesses don’t feel adequately prepared to defend their organization against a cyberattack. Considering small businesses are most at risk, this is cause for concern.
Cybercriminals know that a large number of small organizations don’t have a dedicated cybersecurity budget, which makes them ideal targets. However, every business is at risk when security is weak.
In this article, you’ll learn about the most common network vulnerabilities, the consequences of experiencing a security incident, and the solutions you can put in place to create a stronger security posture.
Types of Vulnerabilities in Network Security
It’s important to protect your business against the following network vulnerabilities:
Your company’s endpoints pose a security risk when left unsecured. An endpoint is any device that connects to your network. This includes printers, copiers, laptops, smartphones, desktops, tablets, smart devices, and even routers.
Securing all connected devices may not be possible with a remote workforce, so you’ll need to rely heavily on training and education. You might also want to require employees to install applications that will allow you to update software automatically and wipe a device remotely if it gets stolen.
If you have a remote access network, and your employees use their personal devices for work, you’ll need to take extra precautions to secure your network. This can include limiting logins to a specific device, requiring multi-factor authentication, and restricting access to areas of the network based on user roles.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Some groups of cybercriminals gain access to a network and don’t start launching their attack for years. They’re not looking for short-term gain. Instead, they take time to coordinate and plan a sophisticated attack.
Automated threat detection software is your best line of defense against APTs because it will detect anomalies in traffic that aren’t easily seen by humans, and will immediately isolate potential threats. An intrusion protection system (IPS) will act as a guard for your network.
Most security incidents are not caused by guessing passwords, but it’s still a potential threat. Cybercriminals use automated software in an attempt to crack passwords. If your employees use weak passwords, you’re at risk.
The following elements make weak passwords:
- Words from the dictionary
- Common acronyms
- Short passwords
- All lowercase letters
- No numbers or symbols
Strong passwords are at least 8 characters and contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Is your company’s Wi-Fi secured properly? Is it password protected, or can anyone join your network from the parking lot?
If your team members are jumping on public Wi-Fi that isn’t secured with a password, they are putting your business at risk. There are a few reasons unsecured Wi-Fi is risky.
- Hackers might be hanging out on the network waiting to overtake a person’s browser session. This will give them access to everything the person does while online.
- A hacker might spoof a public network by broadcasting a fake network with the same name. For instance, someone might go to Starbucks to work for the day, and end up logging onto a network created by a hacker in the store.
- Most routers have encryption turned off, and few businesses know they should turn it on. Without encryption, hackers can steal the information sent across the network, even if that Wi-Fi connection is password-protected.
Protecting against the dangers of using unsecured Wi-Fi is a challenge for many businesses, and your best bet is to have an IT security pro analyze your situation and help you implement solutions. This might involve requiring employees to use a VPN while working from public Wi-Fi, or outright banning public network connections.
Social engineering attacks are when cybercriminals pretend to be someone familiar to their targeted victim. Usually, this involves sending them an email and making it appear as though it’s from a familiar sender. The intention is to get the victim to click on a link that will either install malware on their computer (like a keystroke logger) or will take them to a fake website asking them to log into a company account in order to steal their login credentials.
One aspect of social engineering you might not think about can come from within the company. Say you have an employee who has ill intentions, but doesn’t have access to the files and folders they need to carry out their plan of sabotage. They might target a co-worker known to have higher permissions within the network and ask if they can use their login credentials, stating that they can’t get their password to work.
The best way to prevent social engineering attacks is by educating your staff. You can also put a policy in place that prohibits password sharing under any circumstances.
Software That Hasn’t Been Updated or Patched
Never ignore those warnings that your software is out-of-date and an update is ready to install. Some updates are simple fixes, but others are patches for major vulnerabilities. Ignoring updates makes your network vulnerable to attack.
For example, the well-known Equifax data breach from 2017 was caused by the company’s failure to patch a massive server vulnerability. Hackers stole personal data from 148 million people. Equifax was fined $650 million by the FTC and settled a class-action lawsuit for $77.5 million.
Misconfigured Firewalls and Databases
Most security incidents are caused by user error, and misconfigurations happen to be a main cause. According to Gartner, 99% of all network breaches are caused by firewall misconfigurations.
The best way to avoid misconfigurations is to hire a cybersecurity professional to set up your network and all security measures. Don’t try to do it yourself if you don’t know how.
Get a Cybersecurity Assessment to Uncover Your Network Vulnerabilities
If your business falls victim to an attack, you could lose irreplaceable data and devices, and be forced to pay massive regulatory fines in the case of a data breach. According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average data breach costs organizations $4.24 million.
If you run a business of any size, it’s crucial for you to know where your vulnerabilities are, so you can implement proper cybersecurity protections. This is especially important if you have remote workers who perform their tasks from unsecured, public Wi-Fi. Even with only onsite employees, your company network may not be as secure as you think.
If you aren’t absolutely confident that your company network is secure, get an IT security assessment from Upfront Computer Solutions to identify and fix network vulnerabilities. Our team also offers managed IT solutions to help you fortify your network, with services ranging from data backup to remote monitoring.
Contact us today to learn more about network vulnerabilities and discover how our team can help.