As networks become more and more plagued with cyber-attacks, it has become more important than ever to close up those problematic network vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity articles often talk about network vulnerabilities in a generalized way, leaving many people confused as to what these vulnerabilities actually are. It is always easier to protect yourself against the things you understand. To put it another way, it’s easy to avoid stepping in a hole if you know that it’s there. With that in mind, let’s discuss some of the most common types of network vulnerabilities.
1. Outdated/Non-Patched Software
This is one of the most common problems because it can happen so easily. Companies will often use a lot of different software and it can be difficult keeping all of it up to date. However, this has to be done for proper security. As you probably know, a software program mostly consists of code. When you’re talking about highly complex programs, you’re talking about thousands of lines worth of code. In this expansive wilderness of numbers, it is very easy for an exploitable flaw to exist.
Software developers fix these flaws by issuing update “patches.” Unfortunately, by doing that, they are also telling the entire world that this flaw exists. So, if you happen to be one of those that doesn’t get the patch right away, you can end up a sitting duck.
2. Hardware Vulnerabilities
Hardware can also present certain problems, particularly when it comes to physical access. Let’s think about this: Is it easier to hack your way into a secured network or to just steal a laptop from someone who is authorized? Needless to say, option number two is the easiest one, provided that you can get past the screen lock (which most hackers can). This is why you should always use router exclusion settings to restrict access to a business network.
3. The Human Factor
The softest target in any network will be the human element-the users. Like our theoretical laptop thief in the previous section, a hacker can save himself the trouble of “hacking” his way past your digital defenses. Instead, he can simply steal some login credentials from an authorized user. This is what’s called a “social engineering attack.”
The good news is that social engineering attacks aren’t usually that hard to spot…if you know about them. Still, hackers seem to continually be able to find that one person with no tech knowledge at all who is easily fooled.
4. Lack Of Router-Level Protections
When mapping out their networks, a lot of people forget about the crucial element of the router. Many of us will just look at the router as a machine that “routes” the internet to our devices (and indeed, that is its main purpose). However, a router is also basically a single-purpose computer, and that means it has other capabilities.
At the bare minimum, your routers should be making use of encryption and firewalls. Don’t hesitate to use the strongest settings, either. MAC address exclusion can be used to limit the number of devices that can access the network, and there are even “smart” routers that will report suspicious activity. If you really want to go all the way, you can use multiple routers to provide multiple layers of encryption and firewall protection. Of course, doing that might slow your network a little bit.
5. IoT Vulnerabilities
IoT (“internet of things”) is an acronym that refers to the usage of “smart” devices. These things can offer a lot of conveniences and can be very handy, but there is one big problem: Most of them are not properly secured. Far too many of these devices take no precautions to protect the connected device from unauthorized access. If that IoT device is authorized to do anything important, a hacker can potentially wreak havoc by taking control of that device.
6. Lack Of Encryption
In case you don’t know, encryption is a method of digital data protection that has been around for a very long time. It works by scrambling up the data so that its contents cannot be read. A password is used as a decryption key, making it more or less impossible to read that data without the password. Unfortunately, there are ways to get around encryption but it is still highly effective when used properly.
If your network does not have at least some basic encryption, that is a major vulnerability, especially for WiFi networks. Without this, it could be very easy for an unauthorized third party to read your data in transit.
7. Incorrect Configuration Of Firewalls
Firewalls are pretty basic: They act as a filter between you and the rest of the internet. However, they do this filtering based on a set of complex rules. If those firewall rules are not configured properly (or worse yet, not configured at all), then it won’t be able to do a very good job. Sadly, there are far too many people who think that a firewall works automatically, and it doesn’t.
8. No Use Of Multi-Factor Authentication
Not every network necessarily needs to use multi-factor authentication (i.e., multi-step user login to verify identity). However, if you really need your network to be secure, this is something that should not be left out. Unfortunately, it is often easy for cyber-attackers to steal identifying credentials, allowing them to impersonate legitimate users. Multi-factor authentication makes that task a lot harder by requiring more than one type of credentials.
Although this list does not include all possible network vulnerabilities, we have covered all of the most common ones. The good thing is that most of these issues are easy to fix if a person simply takes the time and effort to do so. Or, alternately, you can pick up the phone and call a company that offers high-quality IT computer services called PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500. As the leading IT support provider in the nation, we are always ready to help make your network a little more secure.