Cybersecurity incidents are much more common today as Australian businesses increasingly use the internet and cloud services to optimise operations. It’s therefore imperative that companies keep computer networks safe by implementing powerful security measures. However, without knowing what the biggest network security risks are, it’s difficult to formulate an effective defence strategy. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most serious network security risks you should watch out for.

Malware

Malicious software is a common security threat that is typically distributed through phishing emails or downloaded from sketchy websites. There are many strains and types of malware, each designed to perform different functions. Some malware are computer viruses that flood inboxes with spam. Others can spy on user activity, steal data and passwords, or adversely affect computer performance.

Self-propagating ransomware is one of the most insidious forms of malware. It latches on to your systems through traditional methods, but once inside, it exploits unpatched vulnerabilities in your network to infect connected devices. Ransomware then locks devices and data using encryption, holding them hostage until a payment (usually in Bitcoin) is made for their release. WannaCry and Petya ransomware were known for using these devastating tactics on healthcare networks and are still widely used by cybercriminals today.

This is why it’s so critical to update anti-malware programs and software regularly. The latest security patches fix vulnerabilities and provide new countermeasures to defend against malware and remove them from your network. Backing up your data in the cloud will also help your business recover from a full-blown ransomware attack.

Rootkits

Rootkits are dangerous tools hackers plant on your network to gain remote access to your systems. When hackers have a foothold in your network, they can track keystrokes, steal passwords and data, and disable antivirus software. Hackers often hide rootkits in seemingly legitimate applications and gain administrative privileges if unwitting users enable apps to make changes to their OS.

While anti-malware software can detect and remove known rootkits, it’s important to have other security measures in place. More specifically, you’ll need advanced threat protection systems that look for the suspicious behaviours indicative of a rootkit attack.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

I a man-in-the-middle attack is when cybercriminals position themselves between two communicating parties for fraudulent purposes. This is often used by attackers to listen in on private conversations and intercept sensitive information transmitted between user devices and corporate networks. In extreme cases, attackers may be active participants who corrupt the contents of messages and impersonate people involved in the conversation.

Man-in-the-middle attacks come in two distinct forms. The first form uses phishing links that lead victims to fraudulent websites masquerading as legitimate ones. For example, the website can appear like a bank or company portal to trick you into giving away your login details.

The second form of MITM attacks involves cybercriminals gaining access to vulnerable Wi-Fi networks like those found in public areas and homes. Vulnerabilities can include weak router passwords, outdated firmware, and disabled encryption settings. Whatever the case may be, attackers who infiltrate Wi-Fi networks can read the victim’s transmitted data. This attack is popular today because employees are working remotely, connected to networks that may not be as robustly protected as corporate ones.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)

DDoS is an attack in which cybercriminals overwhelm a network with more traffic than they can process. This slows down online services or temporarily shuts them down, causing significant productivity losses. DDoS traffic can consist of incoming messages, data packets, and network connection requests. Most DDoS attacks today are performed using botnets, or a network of remote-controlled machines designed to flood targeted networks with data.

Preventing this risk requires clearing company devices of malicious code and proactively managing networks to prevent downtime.

SQL injection

SQL is a programming language typically used in structured databases. Many eCommerce software rely on SQL databases for tracking inventory and managing order processing.

However, hackers can send malicious code through a network to infiltrate these databases, obtain and manipulate data, and even alter online transactions. This is known as SQL injection, and one well-placed attack can lead to major privacy issues and endanger data integrity. Keeping database server software up to date and fully encrypted are your only options against this network security threat.

Insider threats

Although many network security risks come from cybercriminals, employees connected to your network also pose a threat. For starters, you can have careless employees who are susceptible to phishing scams and unwittingly disclose sensitive information to unauthorised parties. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, these scams and practices make up a majority of reported data breaches.

There could be users who have a tendency to reuse weak passwords across their accounts, leaving your company network vulnerable to attacks. Plus, employees may be using unsecured personal devices to connect to your network, which gives hackers an easy entry point into your systems. To mitigate these risks, employees need regular security training and a clear bring your own device policy backed by endpoint security software. With increased security awareness, employees can take a more active role in protecting your organisation’s networks.

In addition to negligent security practices, your company could have employees sabotaging your network from within. These rogue insiders deliberately abuse their access privileges to siphon personal and proprietary information from your network or install malware undetected. The only way to stop these threats is with stringent access restriction and proactive network monitoring.

Empower IT is the managed IT services provider of choice when it comes to dealing with these network security risks. We offer proactive patch management, network monitoring, anti-malware solutions, and advanced security solutions to keep your systems safe. Consult with our experts today to deploy a powerful cybersecurity framework for your business.

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