Network security has always been the top priority for businesses. Especially with the recent developments and technologies, network security is crucial now more than ever. That’s because cybersecurity threats have risen and gotten more sophisticated. In the last few years, companies transitioned to remote and hybrid working models due to the pandemic. This shift opened new vulnerabilities for network security, and therefore companies have been suffering from the increased volume of cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity threats come in various forms. Among the most common cybersecurity threats, we can list malware, ransomware, viruses, worms, DDoS attacks, SQL injection attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, insider threats, phishing, and social engineering.
In fact, insider threats and DDoS attacks were the top 2 cybersecurity threats worldwide as of last year according to the 2022 report of CISO. E-mail fraud, cloud compromise, malware, and ransomware attacks followed insider threats and DDoS attacks as the top network security threats worldwide in 2022.
Businesses need to be educated about cybersecurity threats and integrate various solutions and practices to keep their networks secure against these malicious actors. They must implement firewalls, VPNs, and identity and access management technologies to monitor network traffic, regulate the access and block any suspicious activity. For instance, a firewall as a service can be implemented as a cloud-native solution to filter network activity since it offers better efficiency and scalability. Now, let’s explain the top 5 network security threats and their precautions in detail.
1. Insider Threats
Insider threats pose at least as many risks as external threats. Due to negligence, inadequate precautions, or other factors, insider threats are mostly formed by human error. More precisely, insider threats point to the illicit activities of authorized users or devices that have access to sensitive data. Some of the internal security threats are considered remote access to sensitive data, unauthorized data deletion, unauthorized access to shared folders, and unapproved or illegitimate software/ hardware.
In this regard, network infrastructure security should be tightened and monitored no matter how secure the network perimeter is. One major solution businesses can implement is to use an IAM technology or ZTNA to authenticate to authorized users, restrict lateral movement, monitor all network traffic to sensitive data and detect any suspicious or illicit activity. Note that monitoring for suspicious activity needs continuous effort. Additionally, businesses must train all of their employees about security threats and build a strong cybersecurity policy around them.
2. DDoS Attacks
DDoS (Distributed denial of service) attacks use compromised devices or computer systems to overflood and disrupt a specific target’s normal traffic whether it is a server, network, or service. Distributed denial of service attacks utilize this method to crash or malfunction websites, servers, and networks. Because cybercriminals route a vast amount of bots consisting of infected IoT devices, the targeted servers experience a high level of traffic making it difficult to differentiate normal and compromised traffic. So, DDoS attacks cause servers to respond to normal traffic with denial-of-service.
The first step in preventing DDoS attacks is to identify unusual traffic. Administrators must be cautious of a flood of traffic originating from a single IP or an IP range, odd traffic patterns, and a high volume of traffic from sources with a single behavioral type. To protect against distributed denial of service attacks, avoiding extortion attempts by giving the right response, using the needed amount of bandwidth and immediate contact with ISP upon a DDoS attack is necessary.
Malware is one of the biggest threats to businesses of all sizes. Once the malware infects a network, a data breach is inevitable. Especially for small companies, the cost of a data breach can bring their business to a halt. Therefore, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions and have a strong defense and cybersecurity policy in place.
Malware refers to malicious code that is created to infiltrate a network and tamper with data or steal the data within. There is various malware that can infect a network, device, or server. These malicious codes include keyloggers, trojans, adware, spyware, ransomware, logic bombs, and pharming. For example, keyloggers steal the credentials of users in a network by recording the compromised devices’ keystrokes. Also, trojans pose themselves as legitimate for downloading, and only when users open the app, it spreads malware. Spyware sneaks into a target network and hides from anti-malware software to gather sensitive or useful information.
Because every type of malware infiltration approach is different, preventing them requires multiple solutions and practices. Implementing anti-malware software is essential. Additionally, software, operating systems, and applications must be updated regularly while solid cybersecurity and pass policies must be enforced. Also, having identity and access management helps. On top of all these solutions, companies must train all employees about malware.
4. Phishing - Social Engineering
Phishing is the most damaging and most common risk among all network security threats. Phishing attacks got extremely sophisticated and complex with social engineering tactics. That’s why, phishing attacks can look authentic and deceive people into downloading malicious code or compromising their credentials via e-mails. Phishing attacks combined with social engineering are rapidly growing in number as well. So, individuals must be aware of how to spot a phishing attempt to secure themselves and the network.
Phishing attacks are extremely tough to combat and therefore the damage they do is immense. It has been found that phishing incidents cost $14.8 million per company on average. Phishing attacks implement different strategies which include spear phishing, whaling, vishing, smishing, and spam. When it comes to mitigating phishing threats, businesses must implement a strong e-mail security gateway, and multifactor authentication (MFA) and enforce security awareness training to their employees.
Ransomware is in its own league in terms of network security threats as it poses serious risks and consequences to businesses aside from other types of ransomware. Ransomware attacks are considered one of the most common and most damaging cyber attacks causing companies to lose billions of dollars.
Ransomware is a threat that infects networks, encrypts certain files, and freezes apps or devices so that they cannot be accessed while holding them for ransom. So, businesses must pay a ransom to restore the data or the system’s functionality. But, payment doesn’t guarantee the data will be restored. So, endpoint protection must be strong in every device in the network to prevent ransomware attacks. Also, businesses should implement effective data backup and recovery.
Among the top five network security threats are considered insider threats, DDoS attacks, malware, phishing, and ransomware. Nowadays, cybersecurity is crucial more than ever. That’s why, businesses must take necessary precautions and build a strong defense against cybersecurity risks to avoid serious costs and consequences.