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10 Network Security Threats + The Threat Defences To Protect You

12 August 2021      
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10 Network Security Threats + The Threat Defences To Protect You

If you’ve been tasked with tightening up your network security, threat defence is the right place to start.

If you focus on stopping threats getting into your organisation, there’s less likelihood of them breaching your network and systems further down the line.

What is threat defence?

Threat defence is the process of securing your organisation against cyber threats. By applying a deep understanding of the cyber threats that could affect your business, you can proactively put systems and processes in place to mitigate these risks.

What are the 3 threats to information security?

Typically, we segment threats to information security into three primary categories: malware, phishing, and internal threats.

What are the different types of security threats?

1 - Malware

Malicious software is one of the most common threats to information security and is an umbrella term for viruses, worms, ransomware, and trojans etc. Malware is designed to intentionally cause damage to computers and networks, leveraging victims’ personal information for financial gain.

Malware is usually spread by email as a link or downloadable file. The user will need to click the link or open the file to distribute the malware. For example, a virus will bind its deceptive code to clean code and wait for an unwitting user to run it. The virus will then spread causing damage to key functions, corrupting data, and locking users out of their devices.

You can protect your business from malware by ensuring you have a robust network monitoring system in place, with antivirus software and SIEM tools that enable security teams to identify suspicious behaviour.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools can provide in-depth defence against malware attacks, with early detection systems on endpoints that highlight ‘anomalies’ and respond accordingly. At Nasstar, our EDR monitoring technology continuously scans your devices for suspicious activity, analysing usage and behaviour to determine what is ‘normal’ before sounding the alarm when something seems unusual.

2 - Phishing

Another common method used by hackers, phishing is where users are contacted by someone posing as a legitimate business to lure them into handing over sensitive and personal information. When this information is given, cyber criminals can use it to access important accounts, resulting in identity theft and financial loss.

In the workplace, users are usually contacted by email. These emails often look too good to be true or have a sense of urgency that provokes the user to react quickly without thinking or assessing the content of the email. Sometimes the emails will also include dodgy links or attachments.

Phishing attacks rely on human error to be successful. Therefore, the best way for organisations to protect themselves from phishing attacks is by ensuring all employees have a clear understanding of the threat and the key signs to look out for.

At Nasstar, we offer a phishing risk assessment and ongoing cyber security training. Our immersive experience is combined with simulated phishing attacks to test ongoing awareness and compliance, with tracked results to provide you with reports detailing how employees improve over time.

3 - Internal threats

Internal threats refer to the risk of someone from within the business exploiting a system to cause damage or steal data. Like phishing, internal threats can be hard to detect and plan for because of the human element.

Employees are regularly trusted with sensitive data in the workplace, but this trust can be abused through negligence or selfish motives. Many security teams focus on external threats, plugging holes to prevent them from happening without sparing a thought for the inside threats happening under their nose.

For example, a disgruntled employee could steal sensitive client information to take to a competitor which could damage the business’ reputation and completely destroy client relationships.

Password protection is a good place to start when protecting your business from internal threats. You should have the ability to quickly change passwords from any device and location, at any time, especially in the case of leaving employees. Single-sign on and two-factor authentication can also help prevent credential sharing.

At Nasstar, we can help you with your cyber security strategy to ensure your organisation is protected from both internal and external threats.

What are the top 5 cyber threats?

The three high level information security threats are broken down in several areas. Cyber crime is the most common way into a businesses information systems as hackers and attackers have access to smarter and more complex systems than ever before.

Check your business has threat defences for these 5 cyber threats:

4 - Email

Email security risks are top of the list as they are commonly used in phishing attacks which is one of the most common methods used by hackers. You can mitigate the risk of emails being used to infiltrate your organisation by engaging with third-party security providers who further protect your email system.

Although emails are encrypted when in transit, once they are static they can be easily attacked. At Nasstar, we partner with security providers such as Mimecast and Proofpoint to incorporate an additional layer of security into your email systems.

5 - Social engineering

It’s becoming increasingly easier for cyber criminals to use human error to gain access to sensitive information. Social engineering attacks include phishing emails, scareware and other techniques used to manipulate human psychology.

You can incorporate cyber security training in your security strategy to ensure your employees are all aware of the signs to look out for. Your business could also implement Zero Standing Privileges where users are granted access privileges for one particular task, for a limited amount of time.

6 - Cloud computing vulnerabilities

With more businesses turning to the cloud, so too have hackers. Cyber criminals scan for cloud servers with no passwords, exploiting unpatched systems and performing brute-force attacks to access user accounts and wreak havoc. With access, hackers can plant ransomware, steal sensitive data or use cloud systems to coordinate DDoS attacks.

Patch cycles can be used to help protect your business in the cloud. At Nasstar, our vulnerability patch management service ensures critical security requirements are continuously patched as required, reducing your security risk and keeping your software up-to-date.

We can also implement security management solutions such as EMS Fortinet to enable scalable and centralised management of multiple devices. Your endpoints and servers would be traffic filtered with application security to block Torrent/TOR systems backdoors communicating if they are on the network at a business location or remote.

7 - Ransomware

Ransomware uses data encryption to demand payment for release of the infected data and is a common method applied by cyber criminals. There have been several notable cases of Ransomware being used, including the 2017 WannaCry attack on the NHS which resulted in thousands of cancelled appointments and operations, and widespread disruption.

It is difficult to completely protect your business from ransomware attacks, but adopting a thorough security strategy with several layers of defence can help. At Nasstar, our threat detection and response service constantly monitors your network, allowing us to identify and isolate threats in near real-time, day or night.

8 - DDoS attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DoS) attack occurs when a malicious attempt to affect the availability of a website or application is made by using multiple compromised or controlled sources. The aim is to exceed a website or application’s capacity to handle multiple requests, thus preventing the site from functioning correctly.

You can protect your business against DDoS attacks by deploying firewalls and implementing an effective network monitoring strategy. We offer vulnerability management services to stay ahead of hackers and look for weaknesses before they find them.

Other network security threats to look out for

To round out the list of network security threats, we must include these often overlooked threats. Even in the most secure networks, there are documented cases where security breaches have been traced to someone within the organisation.

9 - Wrong users having access to the wrong systems

You can use role-based access control to grant access to resources based on a person’s role in the company. This is an effective way to protect data and ensure your company’s information meets privacy and confidentiality regulations.

10 - Password sharing

Creating a formal policy to manage risks and enforce clear rules about password sharing is essential for internal security. Your policy should include information about using strong passwords and procedures for handling, storing and sharing passwords (which should be avoided where possible). Multi-factor authentication can also enhance access to sensitive data by requesting login information from independent categories of credentials to successfully verify the user’s identity.

Want to know how secure your business is from network threats? Take this free network security assessment.