Malware has affected a whopping 32.77% of network systems around the globe. At least, that was according to a 2014 report. The numbers in the report were grim indeed, but more than five years later, with more and more businesses going online even before the global pandemic hit, the threat is only more real. It has the potential to become bigger than the creators of that 2014 report could ever have predicted. And with good reason.
Former CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, claims that there are only two types of businesses in the world — “Those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.”
And it’s not just business networks and servers that are at risk. As online classes, digital conferences, and Google Meets turn into a daily part of everyone’s lives, personal devices have become just as vulnerable to both active attack and passive attack.
Types of attacks in network security are varied, targeting businesses and individuals alike. Because the sensitive information that individuals store on insecure public networks and phones are equally, if not more, vulnerable to attack, it’s important for both upper management of businesses and employees to be aware of the possible risks and take proper measures to fend off such malicious attacks. Let’s go over some common threats to data and networks.
10 Common Types of Vulnerabilities in Network Security
There are many types of vulnerabilities in network security, all of which could target personal or business devices and compromise their data. But before you can learn to counter such threats, you need to be aware of the basics of different types of attacks in network security so you can better understand what to look out for.
- Computer Viruses
It is the boogeyman that our mothers warned us about when we first stepped into the virtual realm. For people using personal devices, this is the greatest threat out there, and reports show that over 33% of personal computers are susceptible to, or are already affected by, malware.
Computer viruses are bits of software programmed to clone and spread to other devices. Once active, they tend to produce massive amounts of spam, change system settings, and steal or corrupt sensitive data.
Ransomware attacks are sophisticated, usually targeting businesses and forcing them to pay hefty fees if they want to prevent critical data from being deleted or corrupted.
And while many types of network attacks fade or transform with time, a report by Cybercrime Magazine claimed that ransomware would continue to attack businesses every 11 seconds in 2021. A grim figure indeed when you compare it to the 40-second attacks that were predicted for 2016.
- DoS and DDoS Attacks
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack usually occurs when attackers flood a website with traffic causing it to crash and become inaccessible. They are usually orchestrated, with multiple hackers flooding the website with traffic from machines around the globe, making it nearly impossible for the site to function, or for the attack to be countered. While there are genuine instances of websites getting overloaded with legitimate traffic (usually when a much-awaited product is launched or a massive story breaks), website crashes are most often due to DDoS attacks.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks work in a similar way, but are usually performed by a single hacker on just one machine, making them easier to counter.
Rootkit attacks usually involve infecting a device with a collection of tools that give the attacker ‘administrator’ access to the system. Using this practically unlimited access, the attacker can steal data, change passwords, disable security, install malicious software, and more.
Rootkits are usually hidden in legitimate-looking software. Once you install software and give it permissions to make changes to the OS, the rootkit takes hold of the system and waits for the hacker’s commands to launch an attack.
SQL Injection Attack
SQL injection attacks are currently one of the biggest threats to data confidentiality. Since most servers use SQL to store website data, the attacks target apps that are data-oriented, analysing and exploiting vulnerabilities to corrupt, obtain, and destroy data and void transactions.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are designed to spy on communication between two or more people. The attacker intercepts private messages to gain access to confidential data. Sometimes the attacker may even go beyond the role of eavesdropper and make changes to the data being exchanged.
- Trojan Horse
Much like the Trojan Horse that led to the fall of Troy, these pieces of malware seem like legitimate programs, but have multiple malicious programs hidden inside. Once they are installed on a network, they can easily steal sensitive data with just a few log keystrokes.
Trojan Horses most commonly take the form of email attachments from “trusted” sources (who have likely been hacked), and are often used keep track of all your activities, including controlling your webcam, with ease.
- Computer Worm
A worm is a piece of malicious software that is built to replicate and spread fast and indefinitely. Once installed, it clones itself and forwards those clones to all the contacts on a device. From there, it spreads exponentially and rapidly, forwarding itself to more and more contacts.
But here’s the thing: although they’re challenging to trace, worms aren’t always designed to harm by stealing or altering data. They are usually meant to cause a bit of havoc by endlessly targeting software vulnerabilities, making them more frustrating than dangerous. Find the vulnerability, and you can put a stop to the worm.
- Phishing Attack
Phishing attacks usually involve forwarding of malicious links that are designed to get people to give up their personal details like credit card information, ID numbers or login details. Usually coming from legitimate-looking sources, or trusted individuals who have been infected, these attacks are particularly dangerous because they seem to be so real. But, once a user clicks a link, malware is often directly downloaded into their system. Even where malware isn’t used, the site often looks so legitimate that people share their sensitive data without thinking, putting their personal information at risk.
- Adware and Spyware
Adware is a strange creature. It’s technically not malware, as it isn’t malicious and often acts with your consent, tracking online activity to show you ads and links that you’re likely to find useful. However, users often don’t even realise that they’re giving consent – it being hidden in terms and conditions or agreements.
And while adware does technically wait for permission before tracing your activity, spyware has no such qualms. Downloaded without your consent, these bits of software often contain keylogging to track your email address, passwords, and even credit card details. This makes them a major threat to personal security.
Safeguard Your Network Security
Today, as our daily lives become increasingly dependent on online solutions, it is imperative that we become more aware of our digital footprint. Thankfully, cybersecurity experts like Solid Systems can help you secure your networks, so you and your employees are less susceptible to such malicious attacks.