Common Network Security Risks and How to Manage Them

Cybersecurity | May 17, 2022

Did you know that cybercrime costs small and medium-sized businesses over $2,200,000 each year?

Network security is something that businesses of years past weren’t as concerned with, but in today’s modern world, it’s an absolute necessity.

Are you trying to figure out how to increase your network security and protect your business assets (and employees)?

If so, keep reading below as we talk about some of the main threats you’re exposed to and how you can keep them under control.

Exposed IoT Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a grouping of computer devices that can transfer data within networks.

Offices usually have many IoT devices, including surveillance cameras or smart thermostats. This can become a problem for businesses that operate remotely as well, as employees will have even more IoT devices at home, like smartphones, smartwatches, or virtual assistants.

You must pay attention to these IoT devices if you want to secure digital safety for your enterprise because there are network vulnerabilities here that are often overlooked.

USB Flash Drives

A lot of high-scale cybercrime, like the 2008 attack that the US Department of Defense experienced, happened as a result of a compromised flash drive.

This is another one of the network security threats that not all businesses realize is actually a threat. They may seem harmless enough, but USB flash drives can easily contain malicious files that are picked up from one computer and transported through to another the next time it is used.

The good news is that this type of device isn’t as commonly used today when things like cloud-based technology exist, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still get used by certain professionals.

Always check in with your employees and colleagues regarding how they store files and information, and make sure to educate them on why USB drives may no longer be the best option.

Bad Wi-Fi Configuration

Regardless of whether or not your employees work in the office or at home, they are going to be relying heavily on Wi-Fi connections. This is necessary for them to be able to actually work if they don’t have wired internet (which might be less common but is still an option today).

Some of the issues that may lead to network vulnerability include:

  • A poor Wi-Fi router setup
  • Not updating the router as required
  • Not changing the router from factory settings
  • Using the factory default password
  • Using the factory default network name
  • Allowing unknown devices to connect to the network

Cyberattackers can easily gain access if you or your employees are doing any of the above actions, so taking action to minimize potential holes in the security of the network before an attack is crucial.

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are nothing new, but they have evolved in how they can disrupt your operations and spread through the network. For this reason, they need to be taken as seriously as ever before.

It really only takes one bad click for a virus to gain entry into the system and destroy or expose important information, confidential data, and more.

Different viruses also have different levels of severity and complexity, so you need all-inclusive anti-virus software to really be protected. Make sure that you’re also providing your employees with training on things like malware, phishing, and ransomware.

Insider Threats

There are situations in which a cybersecurity problem isn’t caused by the structure of your network, bad code, software problems, or even not doing an update on time. It can be caused by people that are doing it on purpose (or by accident) inside your institution.

Because there is a human factor behind insider threat, it is one of the most dangerous types of network vulnerability issues. Employees, on their own, can become a liability to the well-being of your business if proper training and surveillance aren’t being conducted.

Unsecured Email

Email is often used by businesses that have employees needing to send and receive information or data. There are times in which these communications might be sharing confidential data, like company finances, which can be a potential network security problem.

Your employees may fall victim to things like phishing, malspam, or social engineering if they aren’t careful with their email accounts and activities.

Some hackers will explicitly look for private data or try to intercept messages, but they might also try to convince employees to provide their login information. This is part of why educating employees on safe practices is crucial from their first day on the job.

Single-Factor Authentification Only

Single-factor authentication is when there is only one factor (usually a password) used to identify who a user is. If a hacker has that information, they can gain access right away.

To help minimize network security threats, you should be asking your employees to have multi-factor authentication on their accounts so that they are less vulnerable to hackers.

You also want to ensure that employees are using high-quality passwords. These shouldn’t be easy for someone to guess and also should not be used on other personal accounts.

Another great idea is to ask employees to update their passwords on a regular basis. For instance, during your network risk assessment, you can propose that employees update passwords every 45, 60, or 90 days depending on what would be most appropriate for your team.

Vulnerable Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are popular now in all industries, so it’s likely that your employees and colleagues use them to some degree. You may have employees that bring them from home, for instance, especially if you have a ‘bring your own device’ policy.

There are actually many ways in which smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers can cause network exposure. Some of these include:

  • Theft
  • Losing the device
  • Malware
  • Shadow IT
  • Data theft

If you want to let employees use mobile devices, training is key. A lot of security issues are caused by human error, so letting your employees know what the corporate policy is regarding these devices upfront is a very good idea.

DoS and DDoS Attacks

DoS (denial of service) and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks are more common in larger companies. However, no matter what size your company is, this is still something that could happen if you have a large server.

These attacks happen when your server is provided with fake traffic that causes the website or local network to fail.

This might not have severe problems for some companies, but some industries, like eCommerce websites, can be severely damaged by this attack. You might lose customers, for instance, if the site is down for too long.

To manage this type of attack, you need to ensure that your firewalls are set up correctly. You should also have data on different networks and track traffic patterns.

Bad Firewalls

Your firewall is part of what helps protect against unsafe network traffic or packets of data. If you want to provide your network with another layer of defense, a firewall is what comes between internet attackers and the network.

It’s important to invest in a network firewall security system that acts as a barrier to protect your organization’s devices.

Even if you have a firewall already, you need to ensure that it is structured right. An error can wreak havoc on your digital integrity, much like what happened with the 2019 Capital One breach.

Outdated Software Services

Software companies used to have new versions of software every other year or so. Today, these same companies are releasing updates and new versions much more often.

The main reason for this change is so that bugs are fixed promptly and the security vulnerabilities are fixed sooner rather than later.

If you’re not staying up-to-date with these new versions, you’re going to be missing out on essential features. Unpatched software means that you have holes in your security that hackers can easily use to steal data or infect your network.

Manage Your Network Security Risks Today

Network security is a crucial part of maintaining your business, and if you want growth in the future, it is a spot that needs extra time and resources.

As you continue to work toward stronger network security, you may find that there are areas in which you need a little extra help. That’s where we come in!

Are you ready for technology and security solutions that are designed for businesses just like yours? Get in touch with us at EMPIST to learn more about what we can do for you.