Protecting Against These 5 Common Security Threats

With the rise of work-from-home and the online workplace, most company IT departments and security teams are aware of common security threats, such as malware, spyware, a malicious computer virus, or a phishing attack. These continue to be extremely popular security threats for organizational networks; however, there are more advanced attacks that could put your company at risk. Understanding how these advanced attacks are targeting your company and computer network will help you to put up the necessary safeguards and protect your data. 

Standard security practices like having a spam filter, antivirus program, and firewall will still need to be used to protect organizational networks; however, as we know, it is not enough.

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving. A comprehensive security stance, which protects against malware, data breaches, and service disruptions, is required at all vulnerable endpoints and every level of an organization. 

Here are five common security threats and how to protect against them.

1. Data Breaches 101

Data breaches might result due to vulnerabilities and other attacks. They typically come about because of compromised credentials, phishing attacks, software misconfiguration, lost or stolen hardware, and malware. The cost and frequency of data breaches are on the rise, and companies need to do everything in their power to mitigate them. 

Unfortunately, protecting against a data breach is not entirely straightforward. In a data breach attack scenario, companies might lose data, experience compromised (or untrustworthy) data if the data is modified, or data might be copied and stolen. Data can then be used against the company to hold them at ransom or sold to malicious third parties. 

Data breaches usually follow a sophisticated pattern. Attackers research a company for security weaknesses, and target systems, people, or networks with vulnerabilities and high-value assets. The attack might start with an initial contact through employees or computer networks. The hacker then uses infrastructure, systems, and application weaknesses to move throughout an organization’s network. 

Protecting Against Data Breaches

Companies within specific industries have to follow best practices for securing sensitive data. Companies in the health, insurance, and financial sectors, for example, might be required to protect their data on PCI-SSD hardware through encryption or, like in the health industry, must follow HIPAA regulatory compliance. 

Protecting this data is more than just personal privacy. Companies with sensitive personal information, financial information, and key identification information could risk financial, fraudulent, and personal losses of their clients. 

The most effective form of protection is continual network security, monitoring, security training for personnel, and establishing threat intelligence programs. A lot of data breaches come from insiders who accidentally give away login credentials to an attacker through a phishing scam or fake pop-up. However, companies should have a mitigation strategy in place to isolate the attack vector and identify or close off vulnerabilities. 

All companies should adopt multiple security barriers, like antivirus, antimalware, firewall, and performance scanners, in addition to employee monitoring and incident response plans. 

2. Code Injection Approach

Code injection refers to a targeted SQL injection attack where hackers can secretly upload malicious code into a company network through an SQL database query. SQL database queries are extremely common, but they contain a massive vulnerability. 

Major companies use a combination of private and public SQL databases, and attackers can slide malicious code into public databases under a common but unused or misspelled name. The organizational vulnerability is often found in a text input field users commonly use, such as the username. Attackers can inject codes using a shell injection attack, operating system command attack, script attack, or dynamic evaluation attack. 

Code injection is one of the top 10 application security risks that companies can experience, and it can lead to stolen credentials, loss of control over a server, and destroyed data. 

Protecting Against Code Injection

Code injection attacks can be prevented by identifying and then avoiding vulnerable code, filtering inputs, and installing applications or APIs that protect against malicious or wrong code being called forward. 

Like the principle of least privilege, validation requirements can help companies control SQL LIMIT function and reduce an attack’s damage. A Web Application Firewall (WAF) can also effectively alert an admin to an ongoing attack by updating a threat database once a real-time attack crosses that firewall. 

3. Malware Infection

Malware infections are another common security threat that most businesses are aware of. Email spam happens to remain one of the most prevalent vectors of a malware attack. 

Malware is short for malicious software, and this encompasses malicious software that might contain viruses, trojans, worms, and other harmful code that can manipulate a computer network. All that needs to be done is for the software to be downloaded onto a computer. This often happens unwillingly. Once downloaded, the software operates as designed.

There are several types of malware. For example, a worm or standalone software might reproduce itself and spread from one computer to the next along a network. A virus will act differently, infecting a program and then using that program to spread. Trojans might also operate undetected on a computer, tricking users into activating it and then damaging the computer functions. Other malware can be disguised as spyware, adware, ransomware, malvertising, or used for cryptojacking and as a rootkit operator.

Protecting Against Malware

Protection against malware comes from education and email monitoring. Every business should adopt a type of email scanning and filtration system so that spam emails are filtered and removed from the inbox. 

Malware education will help employees to recognize suspicious emails, advertisements, and programs. Antivirus, antimalware, and firewalls are useful endpoint protection tools as they can identify compromised or malicious websites, advertisements, and downloads. They can also prevent an employee from opening the doors to a malware infection unbeknownst. 

4. Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)

DDoS attacks, or Distributed Denial of Service Attacks, are increasing in popularity. Statistics from cybersecurity company ATLAS ASERT (Atlas’s Security Engineering and Response Team) show that businesses experience over 10 million DDoS attacks in 2021, an estimated 1.6 million higher than what occurred in 2019. 

DDoS attacks are extremely difficult to detect and ward off. Distributed denial-of-service attacks are simple in theory: attacks flood a website with so much traffic that the website or computer is unavailable. The website is crashed or “brought down by hackers.” To perform a DDoS, hackers flood traffic, often using bots, to overload the server or network, eventually making the service or website inoperable. Traffic might range from requests for connections to fake packets and incoming messages. 

DDoS attacks might be volume-based, protocol-based, or application attacks. Hackers might be able to threaten a DDoS attack at a lower level and use it as a method of extortion or ransom. This is what one criminal group did in 2015 and 2016. The use of extortion is powerful because in a DDoS-style attack, the computer network is unusable, and the victims are often at the whims of the attackers. 

Other uses of the DDoS may be as a form of distraction. While the company is dealing with the DDoS, other attackers may be installing malicious software or stealing data on the sly. Symptoms of a DDoS attack include internet disconnection, problems accessing websites, excessive amounts of spam emails, long-term inability to access a certain website, or slow access to files (locally or remotely). 

Protecting Against DDoS

Protecting your company from this highly profitable and powerful attack can be tricky. It’s imperative to take quick action when you are a victim of a DDoS attack and notify your ISP provider to be re-routed. It’s ideal to have a backup ISP as well, especially if the attack is sophisticated enough. ISPs can use Black Hole Routing to redirect traffic into a null route, therefore keeping the website or network from crashing. 

Preventative measures also help. Have your services dispersed across a slew of networks or servers so that the attack is ineffective. Firewalls and routers should be configured to reject falsified traffic. Additionally, install application front-end hardware into your network drive so that data packet classification can filter incoming traffic. 

Implementing AI can also help. The faster that your system can redirect traffic or filter incoming traffic, the more likely your server will not crash and be able to mitigate an attack. Systems that can quickly move traffic to a cloud can also clear up traffic requests so that IT departments can see where the vulnerabilities lie. 

5. Insider Threats

Insider threats are those who have access to secure locations in a computer network and are either taken advantage of by a cyber attacker or are a malicious attacker that manipulates computer networks. According to statistics, 60% of cyberattacks come from insider threats, and they are unfortunately tough to detect and extremely expensive. 

When you think of an insider threat from the organizational standpoint, recognize that anyone involved in a company can be an insider threat. As vulnerabilities exist in numerous areas within a computer network, and human error often contributes to increasing vulnerabilities, then your current employees, third parties, and insider software can contribute to this type of threat. 

Protecting Against Insider Threats

It’s extremely important to regularly oversee security best practices, including identifying vulnerabilities, eliminating redundancies, and mitigating security risks. This allows your team to set up protocols for isolating vulnerabilities and threats and mitigating insider threat attacks when they occur. 

Also, set up a zero-trust policy for security, which suggests that individuals who have already been cleared for access in a certain area must request access repeatedly to ensure malicious attackers are using stolen credentials. Businesses can also use micro-segmentation and the principle of least privilege to reduce the number of vulnerabilities. 
Employee monitoring can keep track of common employee behaviors so that admin can be alerted of a potential attack.

By SoftActivity Team

June 7th, 2021