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Network Vulnerabilities

Network Vulnerabilities
Written by twitiq

Network vulnerabilities have recently become one of the essential points to discuss because we continuously lose valuable information as well as revenue from the business. Nowadays, hackers have deep knowledge of different cyber tricks and apply them to hack any secure network and steal information.

You should know that small businesses generally don’t keep their network systems protected. Sometimes, business owners don’t incorporate strong security policies. Besides, it can happen that owners are unable to understand the process of protecting the network systems. Remember that you may find exploitable bugs within networks. So, you should understand how hackers control tasks. It will give you a clear idea of how they prevent you from accessing your digital asset. Let’s dive into the article to know more about network vulnerabilities.

What is Network Vulnerability?

Network vulnerability refers to flaws in Hardware, Software, or organizational processes.

How do Network Security Vulnerabilities Occur?

It may occur for several reasons. The presence of flaws in the network design is one of the common reasons due to why you may encounter the flaws.

Besides, you can face the issue when there are network configuration or implementation flaws. The weaknesses of security controls are also one of the reasons. The controls are used for protecting the network.

Understanding Network Security Vulnerabilities:

These vulnerabilities are either non-physical or physical.

Non-Physical: It indicates something related to Software & physical data. Sometimes, the IT department may not update OSs. As a result, the whole system becomes susceptible to hackers. Any malware downloads in your OS might affect the entire network.

Physical: There can be many physical protections, such as storing an on-site server in a rack closet. Besides, you can secure the network using a lock. Sometimes, you may need a code to access a secure entry point. The servers usually store precious information like consumer data or trade secrets. Therefore, these must require physical security controls. For instance, you need access cards or biometric scanners which prevent unauthorized users from accessing the area and your valuable items.

What Are The Different Types Of Network Vulnerabilities?

These are available in multiple forms. However, we have given the names of the most common network vulnerability types here.

  • The standard form of malware is malicious Software. Trojans, viruses, and worms are malware that can be installed on a host server or a user’s machine.
  • Social engineering attacks make people fool and take personal information like a username or password.
  • Outdated or unpatched Software can expose the systems which run the app and the whole network.
  • Misconfigured firewalls / operating systems have enabled default policies.

Ensure that the network security team fixes the issues when they assess the system’s security posture. If they leave the problems unchecked, these may cause more advanced attacks like DDoS attacks. It stands for distributed denial of service attack that prevents users from accessing this.

  1. Malware (Malicious Software):

People buy malware without knowing about this. Besides, some people download and install these unknowingly. In 2018, according to the records, around 812.67 million devices were affected by network vulnerabilities.

When systems are infected, these undergo some symptoms like sending emails without user action, running slowly, rebooting randomly, and starting unknown processes.

These are the most common types of malware:

  • Viruses
  • Keyloggers
  • Worms
  • Trojans
  • Ransomware
  • Logic Bombs
  • Bots/Botnets
  • Adware & Spyware
  • Rootkits

You can encounter the problem via phishing emails. Hackers send emails along with links. As soon as you tap on the link or download any attachment, you can find yourself trapped by the malware codes.

Viruses:

This one is the most common malware attack. If any user clicks on a virus or copies it mistakenly to media or a host, it will infect a system. Nowadays, several viruses can be found which disguise themselves to hide their exact nature. Hackers can spread viruses from one system to another through email, instant messaging, website downloads, removable media (USB), and network connections.

A few kinds of file types are usually more susceptible to virus infections, and these are as follows— .doc/docx, .exe, .html, .xls/.xlsx, .zip.

Keyloggers:

Keylogging is also known as keyboard capturing. This is because it can log your keystrokes and then send data to hackers. Generally, people don’t know that they are being monitored in this case. For example, employers use keyloggers to monitor employee activity, like stealing passwords or sensitive data.

A physical wire may also work as a keylogger which is attached to an external device like a keyboard or installed by a Trojan.

Worms:

It can replicate itself just like viruses. In addition, worms can spread their copies and other things via network connections, email attachments, and instant messages. But it never needs a host program. Instead, hackers generally use these against email servers, web servers, and database servers. As soon as worms infect the user’s device, these will spread over the internet and computer networks.

Trojan Horses:

These are generally disguised as legitimate Software. These can hide themselves on your PC until you call upon them. Once you activate this by chance, hackers can spy on you using Trojan horses. They can access your system’s backdoor and steal precious data.

Users download these through email attachments, website downloads, and instant messages. Hence, hackers use social engineering tricks to fool people and execute these on their operating systems. However, you should know that these can not self-replicate, whereas worms and viruses can.

Ransomware / Crypto-Malware:

Ransomware is a kind of malware that can lock you out of your system or not allow you access until you pay a ransom. Ransomware attacks can have devastating impacts. For instance, the estimation of damage caused due to the Baltimore ransomware attack is up to $18 million. Hackers spread these through email attachments, website downloads, instant messages, phishing emails, or infected websites. But remember one thing it is not sure that you will access the files after paying the ransom. Besides, the recovery process may be challenging.

On the flip side, crypto-malware is one kind of ransomware used for encrypting user files. Hence, people need to pay on time. Moreover, they need to do so often through a digital currency like Bitcoin.

Logic Bombs:

These will activate when triggered, like on any particular date or on the 25th; log on to the account. Worms & viruses deliver malicious code using these logic bombs at a predefined time. These logic bombs can change bytes of data, make hard drives unreadable, and so on. Utilizing an Antivirus helps to detect them when they’re executed.

But, until the antivirus software performs their work, these logic bombs can remain on a system for a prolonged time, for months or years.

Bots/Botnets:

It stands for roBOT NETwork. It is a bots group. These need to be controlled remotely. Previously, the Mirai botnet could control IoT-connected devices such as DVRs, home printers, and smart appliances. People only have to put the default username and password. Sometimes, threat actors send plenty of data to a website hosting company via a DDoS attack. As a result, several famous websites were taken offline.

Adware & Spyware:

These are unnecessary Software. The job of adware is to serve advertisements on displays within a web browser. When you download any program, you may install this in the background without knowing about this. Although it is harmless, it may irritate you.

On the flip side, spyware can also access computers and damage them. It can collect information like habits, browsing history, and PII meaning personal identification information. After that, attackers sell the information to data firms or advertisers. Besides, they can get bank account information. In addition, they can steal the personal identity of the user. People mistakenly download spyware from file-sharing sites.

Rootkits:

This one is a backdoor program using which hackers maintain command. It enables threat actors to control your PC without your permission. As a result, hackers can exploit the targeted system. The controller can log files, spy on the owner’s usage, execute files, and change system configurations remotely. Although antivirus software can recognize rootkits, these are challenging to clean from a system. But it is advised to remove the malware and rebuild the system.

  1. Social Engineering Attacks:

This attack type is famous and used by threat actors to bypass authentication. These attacks can help hackers bypass authorization security protocols, resulting in access to the network.

In the last five years, social engineering attacks have become popular. The users face the most significant security risk to the organization as they are unaware of this. If you download any attachment accidentally or tap on a link to a website with malicious code, it may cause huge damage. However, it never proves malicious intent. It may happen that you are a social engineering attack victim.

Here, we have given names of the most common social engineering attacks. Let’s check it.

  • Phishing emails
  • Spear phishing
  • Whaling
  • Vishing
  • Smishing
  • Spam
  • Pharming
  • Tailgating
  • Shoulder surfing
  • Dumpster diving

Phishing Email:

It is a kind of online threat that seems to come from any business or a legitimate user. The main motive of this scam is to trick the users so that they can give their valuable information like username or password. Moreover, it can happen that you become the victim of this scam when you download any app, transfer money, or open any application. Hackers need to create a false trust for this attack. The threat actors can send emails from familiar websites.

Once you put your credentials, threat actors log the username & password. Hence, you should know that the damage varies because it depends on the information which hackers will access. For example, the bank account details of the users can be stolen. Whereas if it comes to talk about business, the threat actors can access the user’s computer so that they can lock out the system administrators by escalating their privileges.

Spear Phishing:

This process has similarities with phishing, where users get tricked. Especially hackers use this trick to use personal information by tricking you into clicking a link. Threat actors also use urgency to bait the victims. For instance, a person named Amy B got an email from Bank of America stating that a hacker was trying to access the person’s account and that the bank had locked it. If the account holder wants to fix the problem, they need to click the link to reset the password. Hence, the hackers want the person to tap on the link and give the login information.

Whaling:

It is a kind of phishing attack. This process aims to trick high-profile business executives or managers so that the threat actors can get vital information.

In this case, the emails and web pages that are serving this scam seem official. So, it is different from other phishing attacks. Hackers can use information from executives that are available on the company’s website. Thus, they can craft a unique message.

Vishing:

This attack is a mix of voice and phishing, and it happens over a VoIP (Voice over IP) line. Hence, the hackers use specific tools for VoIP systems to hack auto-dialers and send Robo messages from a spoofed VoIP address.

While in 2017, around 30 billion robocalls were made, in 2018, the number of robocalls was nearly 48 billion in the U.S., Whereas a 57% increment from 2017 made this a very fast-growing attack. Users must remain alert because hackers sometimes say that their system is hacked and they need to update their password. In addition, they may request an urgent payment by saying that they have a few discrediting “information” of yours. Hackers act clever sometimes and do friendly behavior.

You can find yourself facing a few questions from them, such as:

  • What is your dog’s name?
  • What is the name of the street
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was the color of your first car?

Smishing:

In this cyber attack, users get misled to give their sensitive information to hackers via SMS text messages. Users may be tricked into sending valuable information like account name and password, banking account, or credit card numbers and can see a short URL link from hackers in text messages. Threat actors want us to tap on the link. In this case, you should know that this link is a redirect to a malicious site.

Spam:

It is included in our inbox from when the inception of email communication began. Hackers send mass emails to many users at a time through this attack. The emails sent through this attack are irritating and may be hoaxes too. You may have heard about the Nigerian prince scam, a famous scam that caused millions of dollars in damage. Spam has been a known attack that contains malware in email attachments and hidden messages in images.

Pharming:

It is a kind of social engineering attack. Pharming can misdirect the traffic of a website to a fake site.

It has similarities with phishing. As soon as you install a code on the PC, Pharming occurs as it can modify the destination URL to the attackers. Moreover, this can happen when someone changes the host file on a PC or tries to exploit the vulnerabilities in the DNS server software.

Due to this, users can lose data and other valuable information like credit cards or bank details. Moreover, Pharming leads to identity loss.

Tailgating:

You should know that every social engineering attack is not made remotely. Besides, hackers don’t always use electronic devices for hacking. In this social engineering attack, hackers follow their targets via a security checkpoint and try to access them physically. Therefore, small and large businesses should have strict access control rules to prevent unauthorized people from accessing sensitive information.

Shoulder Surfing:

In this type of attack, threat actors steal personal information through direct observation. For hackers, it is very easy to see your sensitive information without your permission. So, you must observe your surroundings when you use your login names and passwords. Moreover, you must remain careful when you try to access your sensitive data, especially when using a computer, smartphone, or ATM in any crowded place.

Dumpster Diving:

It is an attack through which hackers find information that is possible to collect easily. Threat actors mainly look for account numbers, special events, contact names, numbers, and so on. Afterward, hackers use the information in attacks like spear phishing and whaling. Hence, they use PII or personal identification information against their targets to fool people. This social engineering attack is legal as trash does not belong to anyone. But all states do not abide by the law. However, it is not legal to trespass onto anybody’s property via trash.

  1. Outdated Or Unpatched Software:

Software developers come up with new patches to resolve bugs and reduce vulnerabilities. A few apps come with long codes for generating vulnerabilities, a vital part of software deployment. Therefore, developers can deploy these patches to Software to remediate the vulnerabilities. Big companies are continuously trying to maintain the security of their software code. Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft companies release their patches regularly so that users can defend the new issues like cyber threats. However, Software and hardware vendors announce EOL or end-of-life dates regularly. For instance, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 OS would not be compatible with any device after January 14, 2020.

Operating systems that run Windows 7 after January 14 are in danger of security risk to their company’s network. Therefore, we recommend you update your system to the current operating system. So, you need to perform scans routinely as well as assessments to detect the vulnerabilities on the network.

  1. Misconfigured Firewalls / Operating Systems:

If your internal server gets exposed to the network, it will be one of the biggest threats. As soon as your valuable information is exposed, hackers can spy on your traffic. They can steal your sensitive information.

Common Network Vulnerability Issues

Network security vulnerabilities include three categories:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • People

Hardware Issues

The IT department needs to remain aware of every device that is within the network. Moreover, they need to maintain every device and update them. If the department doesn’t want to use the firmware to upgrade the device or doesn’t find any patches for troubleshooting a known weakness, they need to replace it with the latest model.

Physical Device Security:

Intruders can infiltrate a network just with the help of a device that has a virus or malware attached to the system directly. They can install malware very fast with the help of USB drives into the equipment. Besides, they can quickly download codes. If you use a harmful app, it may install spyware or a backdoor code. As a result, it will steal sensitive information such as keystrokes or the chances to see network traffic.

There is no need for the threat actors to be present physically in that location. Instead, they mail USB devices with malware to unsuspect those who have unknowingly infected their workstation once people insert this into the USB port.

Firewall Issues:

Whether your business is small or big, firewalls are a must-have thing when your business is connected to web networks. These may be a part of a router, separate box, or virtual device. You should know that firewalls can prevent unauthorized access and block blacklisted IP addresses from open ports. However, these may upload non-essential services into the network as part of the program.

If the IT department is unaware of the services or doesn’t update or remove them, you should know that the firewall can contain an exploitable vulnerability.

It can block cross-site scripting and SQL injection attempts. Hence, you should know that SQL injection can interfere with app queries to check sensitive data. If you have several firewalls, it can help segment the network with confidential information beyond the edge of the network that is more easily accessible to hackers.

Wireless Access:

Several businesses use wifi, but it may pose severe vulnerability as users can get access instantly beyond the firewalls. If your network is not secure with passwords, anyone can access this. If you have wireless access, every device with an internet connection will be able to read the traffic flowing in and out.

IoT Devices:

According to the estimation, 20.4 billion devices will connect to the IoT in 2020. In this case, you should know that IoT is the Internet of Things. The term indicates a collection of several objects, including thermostats, light bulbs, and locks. These sensors will allow you to connect to a system, network, or device. Then, you should transmit your data over the internet. Unfortunately, despite these objects’ advantages, a few poorly made models provide only a little bit of protection against cyber attacks.

Moreover, you will not be able to update the firmware. Does your business have IoT devices? Then, the professionals are advised to purchase them only from trustworthy vendors. Moreover, the professionals need to connect them to a separate subnet to reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

Unauthorized Devices:

These are major security problems that may be problematic to an internal network in many ways. Threat actors use USB thumb drives mainly to transmit harmful apps or store sensitive data. The reason is that these are simple to port and come with wide storage capabilities. MP3 players, fax machines, printers, and digital cameras are a few instances of these devices. You should know that laptops and Android phones can also pose threats to the OS. However, malware can run on these devices easily.

Software Security Vulnerabilities

These are the software issues that you may encounter.

Outdated and Buggy Software:

Outdated Software is always the common reason behind network vulnerability. If you want to circumvent the error, ensure that your security team installs software updates

Your business must perform a vulnerability scan to ensure that the network security is updated.

Unmanaged Software:

Employees download Software sometimes without the IT department’s permission. However, it contains risk as the company’s network security team cannot manage this. In addition, your Software may contain a Trojan horse with malware. As a result, you may experience network vulnerabilities.

When the employees try to make their work easier, they basically circumvent the department’s strict rules. As a result, you may become a victim of cybercrime. Therefore the IT team should remind the employees about security policies and unauthorized software usage.

Security vulnerabilities from configuration:

Sometimes, a lack of configuration leads to security vulnerabilities. As a result, security breaches can occur, and unauthorized access can be done. However, you should know that dew web apps are designed including default settings and passwords to use the application easily, even without the concern of web security. Therefore, you should use strong passwords and change the admin account names to restrict access. In addition, you definitely know that employees can access VPNs easily. But are these a part of your business? Then make sure that these have appropriate configurations so that you can reduce security attacks.

User Issues—

While developers try their best to protect PC systems, people still need to manage these and often make mistakes. For example, suppose people use weak passwords or face issues like phone scams, or don’t understand a security policy. In such cases, employees may fall under huge security risks.

Authentication and Authorization:

Generally, we use weak passwords as these are easy to remember. As a result, hackers can easily guess passwords. While it is true that Software has particular requirements for generating passwords, the protection will never be enough against hackers.

If you want the best security, you may take the help of password generators so that you can create a unique user code that contains upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The main motive for creating these passwords is that they are difficult to crack. Basically, the password theft process can be done within just a few seconds. Then, it only needs approval through mobile apps, text messages, or special devices.

Deception of Users:

You can be scammed via scam phone calls, phishing emails, and fake websites. The main motive of threat actors is to access your valuable information within your system.

Intruders steal information in different ways, and email is one of them. Generally, companies send information to colleagues & clients through email. But an email may contain malicious web apps that can steal data such as leadership names and passwords. Therefore, you should check that your mail comes from a verifiable sender. Moreover, while sending an email, you need to check whether the recipient is verifiable or not. Sometimes, employees access file systems without permission and read confidential information except knowing who is watching.

How can you find network vulnerabilities?

If you want to look for network vulnerabilities, you must use the scanning tools to find & identify network devices, open ports, and Software available within that network. When you use the scanner, it helps to collect data from the system. After collecting the data, you should know that the scanner compares vulnerabilities to the database. You should know that the proper scanning tool will never be a drain on resources. Besides, you must ensure the tool is not overpowering with its scans. These must not negatively impact the bandwidth of a network.

The scanner must know when people add new devices and connections to the network. The latest vulnerabilities display new programs, hardware, and devices that are included in the network. As soon as you connect something new, the right scanner must scan it automatically.

How can you prevent network vulnerabilities?

You should perform a vulnerability risk assessment to prevent network vulnerabilities. The company can recognize its security risks during the procedure and decide if it should remove or roll these. It lets you set priorities for remediation.

The bottom Line:

Network vulnerabilities remain a threat always. Because hackers try to exploit and access the system of the business, remember that the attacks mentioned in the article are the biggest threats to an organization and its users. If your business or your system has outdated Software, it may have vulnerabilities that you may not find in the current version. Moreover, you should also know that the misconfigured firewalls and default policy settings can make you fall at security risk, a result of which your valuable information may get exposed to hackers.

Frequently Asked Question:

What are the 4 main types of security vulnerability?

These are the names of the four major types of security vulnerabilities including:-

  • Network Vulnerabilities.
  • Operating System Vulnerabilities.
  • Human Vulnerabilities.
  • Process Vulnerabilities

What are the 5 main types of a network attack?

These are the five major types of network attacks:-

  • Unauthorized access.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Man in the middle attacks.
  • Code and SQL injection attacks.
  • Privilege escalation.

What are the three types of network service vulnerabilities?

Network service vulnerabilities are categorized into three parts at the broadcast level: hardware-based, software-based, and human-based.

 

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