Most Common Network Security Threats

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When it comes to network security threats, it's not a question of if you'll face an attack, but when and how often.

Network security is one of the most important aspects of any business or organization. It can help protect your company from cyber attacks, prevent data loss, and ensure that sensitive information remains secure. Yet, it's also one of the most highly targeted elements by cyber threat actors, thanks to its critical role in modern businesses.

In this article, we'll discuss some of the most common network vulnerabilities and share insights into how to protect your organization from the same. But first, what does a network security threat mean?

What Is a Network Security Threat?

A network security threat is an attempt by someone to gain access to a computer system, network, or other protected resource without authorization. This could include attempts to steal personal information, sabotage operations, or even use the system for malicious activities.

You can also refer to a network security threat as an attempt to breach your network and obtain unauthorized access to your data. These threats can be broadly grouped into four categories, depending on where they originate and how they're executed: internal, external, structured, and unstructured. 

  • Internal threats. These are threats made against an organization by employees who have legitimate access to networks and systems. They can result from errors, controls, or fraud, and they're so common that 63% of successful attacks come from internal sources. 
  • External threats. These are attacks carried out by people outside of the organization attempting to compromise or steal your sensitive data. External threats may be challenging to detect because they originate from unknown locations and don't follow a specific pattern.
  • Structured threats. These are network attacks executed by highly specialized threat actors who know exactly what they're doing and have a clear-cut goal. An excellent example would be a state-sponsored attack. 
  • Unstructured threats. Unstructured threats are carried out by less sophisticated attackers who lack the resources and expertise to carry out more complex attacks. Examples include script kiddies (or "scripters") and social engineers. 

Common Types of Network Security Threats

The following sections describe the most commonly encountered types of network security threats. We've included examples of each type below, along with some tips on defending against them.

1.  Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a popular method used by hackers to trick unsuspecting users into handing over their login credentials. A phishing email looks like it's coming from a trusted source—like a bank or credit card provider—and contains a link that takes the user to a fake website designed to look similar to the actual site. Once there, the hacker collects the victim's username and password. The attacker then uses these credentials to log into the actual site and take control of the account.

How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

There are many different ways to prevent phishing attacks, including:

  • Check the sender's address before clicking links in emails
  • Avoid giving out your passwords to anyone
  • Use strong passwords and rotate them regularly
  • Don't give your information to an unsecured site
  • Use anti-phishing protection and anti-spam software

2. Rogue Security Software

Rogue security software is malicious software that masquerades as legitimate software. This type of attack is often referred to as "malvertising" because it involves advertising websites that contain malicious software. Unlike traditional malware, rogue security software doesn't need to be downloaded onto a computer; it simply needs to be run within the browser. 

How to Avoid Rogue Security Software

To avoid being tricked by the rogue security software, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Only download software from reputable sources
  • Be wary of pop-up ads that ask for personal information
  • Read software reviews from reputable sites like Techendo, Capterra, and Download.com
  • Install updates promptly

3. SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection attacks occur when threat actors use specially crafted input data to exploit vulnerabilities in web applications. These exploits allow the attacker to access sensitive information stored in databases. Attackers may try to steal usernames and passwords, change records, or even delete data. They may also use this technique to execute commands on the database server itself.

How to Protect Against SQL Injection Attacks

Here are some essential tips to help prevent SQL injections:

  • Always validate user input before inserting it into a database
  • Use prepared statements whenever possible
  • Use parameterized queries wherever possible

4. DDoS Attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack occurs when an individual or group attempts to make a website unavailable to its intended audience. A DDoS attack usually consists of multiple requests sent over the internet at high speeds. The goal is to overwhelm the targeted website with so many requests that it becomes unable to handle them all.

How to Prevent DDoS Attacks

Follow these best practices to help defend against DDoS attacks:

  • Configure your network's firewalls to block traffic from outside your organization
  • Use cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform
  • Use a CDN service like Akamai or EdgeCast

5. Malware Attacks

Malware refers to any software program that does something unwanted when installed on a computer. It can range from benign programs such as anti-virus utilities to harmful programs that do things like delete files, install spyware, or send spam messages.

Malware comes in two primary forms: viruses and worms. Viruses are self-replicating pieces of code that infect other computers. Worms are also self-replicating, but they spread via e-mail. Both types of malware can cause serious damage to a system if left unchecked. Other common types of malware that you should watch out for include bots, trojans, adware, spyware, and more. 

How to Prevent Malware Attacks

You can take several steps to protect yourself from such network attacks. Here are a few:

  • Use antivirus software to scan incoming files and remove anything malicious
  • Keep your operating systems up-to-date
  • Use administrator accounts only when necessary
  • Use secure authentication methods like multifactor authentication

6. Computer Virus

Viruses are programs designed to damage or destroy data on a computer system. Viruses infect computers through email attachments, USB drives, shared networks, etc. Once installed, they replicate themselves until they reach a certain threshold where they self-destruct.

How to Prevent Computer Viruses

There are several ways you can protect yourself from viruses:

  • Keep your anti-virus program updated
  • Back up important files regularly
  • Avoid downloading suspicious links

The Bottom Line

So there you have it! These are the top six most common types of network security threats. Hopefully, after reading this article, you know how to identify each one and what steps you should take to prevent them. If you want more detailed information about any of these threats, please contact us today.

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