Network security is an essential part of every organization. This article will discuss some of the top network vulnerabilities you must know to keep your organization’s network secure.
In recent years, hacking activities have increased exponentially. Hackers are easily able to get inside the organization’s network to perform malicious activities. They would enter the organization’s network and gain all the access by removing the existing admins of the network.
So, if you are a network security professional in a company, it is your job to stop that from happening. To prevent the attacks from succeeding, you need to keep your organization’s network secure. As a preventive measure, you will regularly perform vulnerability scans of the organization’s network and patch all the weaknesses found immediately before any hacker finds them.
For any organization today, the security of its network is crucial, and it must be designed to protect the integrity and usability of the network and the data. This includes both software and hardware technologies. Let me brief you about what exactly is a network vulnerability.
What are Network Vulnerabilities?
Network vulnerabilities are loopholes or weaknesses present in the organization’s network related to ports, hosts, services, etc. A penetration tester uses various network scanning tools to identify the vulnerabilities present in the organization’s network.
One of the most popular network scanning tools is Nmap. This tool is straightforward to use, and it scans networks and checks for hosts and open ports and the services running on the network. These tools give enough information about the network, which hackers can then use for malicious activities.
Let me tell you some of the vulnerabilities you must be aware of.
USB Flash Drives
One of the most common ways hackers use to get inside a company’s network is by using a USB flash drive. On the fun side, if you have seen the documentary of Edward Snowden, you would know how easy it was for him to steal the data from the National Security Agency network and store all the secret data on a USB flash drive.
Most of the time, USB flash drives are used by hackers to ingest malware on a target network and infect it to gain access. Today, professional hackers use several types of malware, such as viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, etc., to infiltrate an organization’s network. The malware will automatically start executing and infect the network once the hacker inserts the USB flash drive into the target network.
So, to keep your network away from this kind of vulnerability, you should always scan every USB flash drive used inside your organization. This should be one of the strict policies inside the organization to avoid a USB flash drive network vulnerability.
When you talk about network vulnerability and security, a firewall is a very common term.
Every organization’s security policy has a firewall in its top priorities. However, managing firewalls becomes complex as the organization grows bigger. And due to the complexity in the firewall management in bigger organizations, network administrators often make mistakes and misconfigure firewall configurations. And this is the kind of opportunity which hackers wait for. You will be surprised to know more than 95% of security breaches in firewall happens due to misconfigurations.
To avoid such misconfiguration in the firewall, network administrators open to visit the firewall to update and patch it with new security updates. As an organization, if you are not serious about monitoring your firewalls, you might end up paying serious money to hackers one day. When you monitor your firewalls regularly, it helps you identify any misconfiguration done by the administrators and take preventive measures immediately.
For modern businesses, you may consider leveraging a cloud-based managed firewall.
Emails are another favorite channel used by hackers to spread malware in the network.
Hackers will send an email to the target with a link or an attachment inside it, and once the target clicks on the link or downloads the attachment, they give the network access to the hacker. Because at the back end, the malware gets executed, which tries to exploit the network and gain its access. To avoid this scenario, educate everyone to never click on any link or download any attachment if the email sender is unknown. It would be best to keep yourself alert of such phishing attacks that are trending these days.
Today everyone in the IT industry would have a mobile device. It is no more just a device used just for calling and messaging; these devices offer a lot more and can provide more functionalities than a personal computer.
Mobile devices are often connected to a WiFi network, and sometimes people tend to use a free WiFi network that is unsecured. This gives an excellent opportunity for hackers to exploit mobile devices. Once the hackers are inside your mobile device, they can steal your email passwords, images, videos, credit card details, and other personal information on your mobile device.
Hackers will show you ads of their free applications which are not secure. Once you click on the ad and install them on your mobile device, the hackers will have access to it, and you wouldn’t even know. So never install unknown applications on your mobile devices without verifying them; it can be a big mistake. In addition, many organizations prohibit their employees from accessing their mobile devices when accessing the organization’s network.
Every organization uses multiple databases to store its data. This data is valuable to the organization, and if it gets into the wrong hands, the organization will suffer a massive loss in the business. So, another kind of network vulnerability related to databases you must be aware of is SQL injection.
SQL injection is a vulnerability that is found inside a web application or a website. In SQL injection, the hackers run SQL queries on the web applications database to define the vulnerabilities inside the database. Then, they run several queries to manipulate the database and identify the loopholes. And once the loophole is identified, the hackers inject malware through their query and run them on the database server to get its access and all the information stored in it.
Distributed denial of service or DDoS is a widespread type of attack in the cybersecurity domain.
In this cyber-attack, the hackers flood the organization’s network with a massive amount of data requests. When the network is not able to handle the requests, it goes down. This allows hackers to get inside an organization’s network and damage its reputation. The idea here is to keep hitting the organization’s network with data packets until it is down. To avoid DDoS attacks, you must set a threshold off data requests from a single source.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of code-injection attack where malware is executed on a trusted website.
Using this kind of attack, hackers try to get inside the website’s network using the web browser. When the victim visits website or a web page, the malicious script executes, which tries to steal all the cookies, session tokens, and other sensitive information inside the website.
When the hackers are inside the website network, they can modify the website content, and the admin would not even know about it. This kind of network vulnerability is exploited when the websites have unencrypted or unvalidated user input in the output it generates.
As a security practice in an organization, developers regularly add patches to their applications to remove any security weaknesses, bugs, or errors found in the previous versions of their applications. Because if your application remains outdated, it provides hackers a weak spot to get inside the application’s network and perform malicious activities.
And that is why DevSecOps is another buzzword in the IT industry, where developers focus on their code security from the beginning. The bigger the application, the bigger the surface area to attack, so organizations like Google, Apple, and Facebook release security patches daily to keep their network secure.
In the last few years, multiple incidents have been reported where you would have heard an organization got hacked, and a lot of their user information was leaked by the hackers.
Such a data leak happens when the hackers can get inside the organization’s network through back door access or brute force attacks. These kinds of scenarios occur when the data is not having proper encryption or protection. Once the hackers have access to the organization’s data, they sell it on the dark web to make money. This will affect the organization’s brand name badly, and their customers will lose faith in them.
So always make sure that your organization’s data is well encrypted and protected.
In IoT, you have multiple smart devices connected to a shared network. For example, you would connect your smartwatch and your mobile phone to the same WiFi. Most of the time, people are ignorant and don’t think these devices are hackable and allow hackers to get inside your home network.
So, these were some of the network vulnerabilities that you must be aware of. As your organization’s network administrator, make sure that you check for these common network vulnerabilities regularly to keep your organization’s network secure from hackers. You should have the necessary tools and best practices in place to have no weaknesses or loopholes in your organization’s network.