Top 11 Network Security Threats [Network Security Complete Guide]
We live in an extremely digital world where computers, telephones, and tablets play a central role in our daily lives.
The Internet has created a world of interconnection where every single one of us is now connected to each other via the internet and networks. The internet has completely revolutionized society and the way we live. It has proved to be a great blessing that has improved our lives and given the tremendous growth in the world economies.
Although the benefits are many, everything has downsides that need to be discussed and addressed. One of the downsides of a more connected world is the network security threats that are related to the internet.
Taking advantage of someone via a computer network is called a Cyberattack or Network Attack.
A report written by the European Cyber Security Agency (ENISA) * states that there has been an increase in cyber threats in Europe. During the years 2019–2020, the increase in cyber threats has mainly taken place in five areas – ransomware, phishing, information leakage, identity theft, and insider threats. But this is of course true for the whole world.
Top Network Security threats
Technological development and digitization are fast. If the technology is not used thoughtfully, vulnerabilities can arise. The most growing cyber threats are contributing to this development and there are many individual companies and businesses that have been hit hard. Below we go through the most common and increasingly growing cyber threats.
More and more organizations are exposed to extortion viruses, so-called ransomware. It is a type of malware that locks your computer or encrypts your files. The fraudster/scammer then requests a ransom to unlock the information again.
This particular type of attack is something that both individuals and organizations experience and there are unlimited ways that developers use to make their software work on your devices. The first step in installing ransomware is to gain access to someone’s system, and this is usually done via a phishing attack. Once the attacker has the system information, they lock the owner out of their own system, and the malware they install displays a message with instructions to pay the attacker if they want to recover their data. The attacker most often requests to be paid in bitcoin as it is almost impossible to track. When this is done, the attacker may unlock the system – or not.
To prevent such attacks from being effective, it is recommended that you create backups of all your sensitive data, both locally and on the cloud (The Cloud). Avoiding this process can result in irreparable problems for you, as it will end up losing your data forever. In addition, you should always install the latest antivirus software to ensure that your system detects all ransomware immediately before it can lock you out.
This refers to any attempt to obtain sensitive information by pretending to be a reliable or authoritative source. Phishing is today the most common method attackers use to access passwords or bank and card details.
It is one of the most common and most common cyber-attack that a large number of people fall victim to. A so-called phishing attack refers to an attack where you want to trick someone into believing in something that is false. The goal of these attacks is usually to obtain personal information such as credit card information, etc. You are probably familiar with ridiculous and inconceivable emails or ads online that claim that you have won a prize or that you can get something really expensive at an incredibly cheap price.
The innocent individuals who fall for these scams share their personal information to the malicious websites whose owner then uses the information for identity theft, unauthorized purchases, and more.
A phishing attack may sound very innocent, but in fact, it is one of the most powerful and useful tools still widely used by criminals. Our advice to you is to ensure that you never share your personal information on any website – as long as you do not have genuine proof of its credibility from a number of different sources. We also recommend that you use a phishing filter for additional protection.
2. Information leakage
When valuable information is disclosed to an unauthorized party. This information can in turn lead to blackmail or further attacks on organizations.
3. Identity theft
Identity theft online is when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud. For example, it could be about using your financial information to carry out various purchases.
This is one of the fastest-growing crimes on the internet. Your identity is also at risk of being stolen via your resume, home address, photos and videos on social media, financial information, and so on.
Identity thieves steal your personal information and then open credit cards and take out loans in your name. Some of this you can not protect yourself against, but there is also a lot you can do to protect your identity.
4. Insider threat
This involves a risk that someone within the organization uses their knowledge of, or their position, for the purpose of damaging the business.
A report highlights that the Covid-19 pandemic has had both a positive and a negative impact on cyber security. The pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of society by encouraging many employers to work from home. Security solutions are being challenged both in increased volume but also through the threats that need to be handled under these new conditions.
According to ENISA, the main cyber attacks are based on economic motives. The consequences of a cyber attack, for example in the form of ransomware, can be serious and costly for organizations.
5. Trojan Horses
Anyone who has studied even a small amount of history is surely aware of how the people of Troy were deceived by a massive wooden horse that was meant to represent peace. A “Trojan Horse” program works in the same way, as it penetrates a system by disguising itself as useful software
It is often an executable file (.exe), but it will appear as the most ordinary thing such as an image, Word, or PDF file. Of course, these are only examples, as the possibilities are almost limitless. Trojan Horses are not capable of infiltrating systems on their own, and the attacker usually has to trick the user into downloading these types of files. These files are usually in contact with on websites or in e-mail attachments, and once they have been downloaded, they can boot up on the user’s system.
When this happens, the user is not aware that the program is insecure and must rely on anti-malware software to detect such a program. These programs have the ability to detect the malicious code present in these files, immediately isolate them from the system and finally delete them. However, it is very important to ensure that your antivirus software has the latest updates for such programs so that it can detect them effectively.
A keylogger is a program designed to pick up every single key you enter that takes place on a particular machine. Rarely do some people use keyloggers on their own systems to track the activity of other people using their system without authorization in a public space. The most common use, however, is as a component of a larger attack where the attacker takes advantage of it to gain access to sensitive information through a Trojan Horse attack or via other methods.
There are a large variety of keyloggers that you may be subject to, such as kernel-level keyloggers, browsers keyloggers, and more. There are also hardware-based keyloggers that are used very rarely due to the difficulties of installing them. However, they have much greater flexibility in use as they are independent of the system itself and cannot be blocked.
The most dangerous part of keyloggers is that they do not work like typical malicious software. They are designed to stay hidden, so it can be very difficult to find them in your system. The only way to find possible threats like this is to use antivirus software and check if any information has been shared in an unauthorized way or if there has been an intrusion into the system. Using virtual keyboards and disconnecting your system from the Internet or intranet access can also prevent information from being exported to the attacker. It is recommended that you periodically update your software, change passwords, avoid illegally downloaded software and back up your data to prevent attacks from occurring on your system.
7. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)
This type of attack is in most cases aimed at organizations or businesses where the goal is to deny the user access to data. This attack overwhelms the information provider’s server (in other words, the activities of the organization’s website) by creating a large amount of traffic that causes the server to crash.
The result is that the website shuts down and that users of the website are denied access to the information or services that they searched for on that website. Although these attacks are not designed to capture information or steal data, they result in victims losing both time and money. DDoS attacks can occur either in the application layer or in the protocol layer where the former directly affects the server while the latter leads to congestion of the network bandwidth by deliberately slowing down the loading times.
Not even a firewall can stop a DDoS attack from happening. The very first step is to use specialized software that allows the detection of DDoS attacks by verifying each user who has access to the server and ensuring that they do not create malicious traffic. Several hosting platforms also offer this service nowadays. However, relying on software alone is not enough. A majority of well-established businesses have a clearly defined response plan in the event of a DDoS attack, and they immediately take the help of specific resources to ensure that their services are up and running despite an attack. Taking such careful steps can sometimes make a huge difference to businesses and organizations.
8. Stay up to date
The world of technology is evolving faster than ever, and the world of cybercrime is evolving even faster. It is only wise for a person to be well aware of the threats they may face on their system as well as the internet itself. It does not matter if you are an individual or a business/organization. Your private information is currently your most valuable asset, and you must take every precaution to protect it.
9. Data breach in retail
Data breaches in retail are a big danger as they can affect pretty much anyone. In 2014, the number of cyberattacks against large companies such as the American Target increased, where hackers stole 40 million customers’ bank and credit card numbers.
Cybercriminals steal and sell personal information on the black market, which can easily lead to identity theft. Much of the responsibility rests with the retailer, such a sin using up-to-date and secure payment methods. But you should keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statement yourself to protect your data in the event of an attack on retailers.
10. Mobile security and threats against smartphones
Cybercriminals can easily exploit vulnerabilities in your mobile phone to get their hands on private data. The vulnerabilities may come from apps you use or the smartphone itself. Mobile phones are also vulnerable to malware, which can log keystrokes and take screenshots. You can protect yourself by finding out more about the apps you plan to download, being careful about which emails you open and which images you choose to upload.
11. Phishing and social manipulation
When cybercriminals trick people into revealing sensitive information such as passwords and social security numbers, it is called phishing. One of the most common phishing methods is that a person receives an e-mail that appears to come from a bank or authority, and leads to websites with an authentic look. Once there, the person is asked to provide a password, personal information and account information.
Cybercriminals collect the information and use it for their own purposes. Phishing is part of a larger problem called social manipulation, which involves manipulating emotions to gain access to sensitive data. Do not fall for such tricks. Be wary of every email you receive, especially if you are asked to provide private information. Remember that real banks and authorities never ask you to verify information that can be sensitive.
Most important tips to network security
- Use strong passwords with numbers and both lowercase and uppercase. Do not choose passwords that are easy to guess, such as “password”, “12345”, etc.
- Do not open suspicious e-mails asking you to share sensitive data.
- Destroy sensitive documents.
- Use a VPN to protect your Internet connection if you need to use public wireless networks.
- Make sure your antivirus software is always up to date.
Although there is a whole world with different types of network threats , those that are aimed at gaining access to individuals’ personal data are most common. Some of the network security threats that we have described have been present for a long time, but are nevertheless important to be aware of and take the proper action against in order to protect yourself.