In the last 15 years, California businesses have experienced 1,777 data breaches, with more than 5.6 billion records exposed. That’s almost 19 times higher than the second runner up, New York state with 295 million records exposed in the same 15 year period.
And, with the recent large-scale shift to a remote work culture, those numbers have only gone up. Clearly, businesses (in California specifically) need to be more aware of their network security vulnerabilities than ever before, or else risk millions of dollars in potential damages.
With so many cyber attacks affecting California businesses every day, signs point to a war on business data being waged by hackers and cyber criminals alike.
And, if you were to ask any military leader, the first step in defending against any threat is to know exactly what you’re up against.
That’s why, in this blog, we’re going to take you deep into the world of network vulnerabilities. These are the top weaknesses that hackers use to gain access to your computer networks and steal your sensitive information.
We’ll explain exactly what network security vulnerabilities are (in relation to business data), and which of the major ones you need to know about, so that you can better protect your sensitive information, your reputation and your bottom line.
What Exactly Are Network Security Vulnerabilities?
Network security vulnerabilities are weaknesses in a computer network that may allow someone unauthorized access to sensitive information or functions within the network.
And, while your average internet user might not think they have anything worth stealing, business networks contain valuable customer data, financial records and proprietary information – all of which can be sold on the black market for a pretty penny (or for millions of dollars).
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In fact, according to recent reports, an average cost of $3.92 million is lost by businesses due to cyber attacks every year. And, with the advent of remote work culture and the major shift towards digital communication, those numbers are only expected to go up.
In-Depth Descriptions of the 10 Different Types of Vulnerabilities in Network Security (and What You Can Do to Address Them)
1. Unpatched Software
One of the most common vulnerabilities in network security is unpatched, or outdated, software.
It’s important to regularly update all software programs (including your operating system) to patch any potential weaknesses or security risks that have been discovered and fixed by the developer. This includes not only your computers, but also any network-connected devices like printers, switches, bridges, laptops or mobile devices.
2. Poor Password Management
It’s crucial to have strong passwords for all accounts on your network.
It’s also essential to make sure they aren’t being reused across multiple accounts (especially if one of those accounts may be compromised). Additionally, multi-factor authentication should always be enabled when available as an extra layer of protection for sensitive information and accounts.
In fact, weak passwords are the number one avenue malicious actors use to steal data because all they require to exploit are very reasonable guesses (often based on publicly available information gleaned from social media accounts).
3. Weak Remote Access
Any devices or accounts that allow remote access to your network should also have strong passwords, and if possible, multi-factor authentication as well.
It’s important to regularly review and monitor all remote access points, removing any outdated or unused ones.
If they’re breached, they pose a massive threat to your entire organization as they can be used to access every device on your network. The attacker would be able to infect your business with malicious code that either steals, holds for ransom or deletes entirely every last byte of data you own.
4. Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks are when a hacker uses deception and manipulation tactics to gain access to sensitive information or networks.
This can include phishing emails or phone calls pretending to be from a legitimate source in order to obtain passwords or credit card information. To protect against these types of attacks, all employees should be trained on how to identify potential social engineering attempts and never give out sensitive information without verification.
5. Insufficient Network Segmentation
Segmenting your network – or dividing it into smaller sections with restricted access – can help limit the damage of a potential breach.
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For example, your customer data should have separate network access from general business information in order to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
6. Unsecured Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks, or even an unsecured company network, can allow anyone within range to potentially gain access to your network.
Imagine if one of your employees (who uses their phone for work) connects to one of these unsecured Wi-Fi networks. If there’s a hacker with their cyber-tendrils rooted in that network, they will have instantaneously gained access to all your data.
That’s why it’s so important to secure all Wi-Fi networks with strong passwords and, if possible, enable encryption protocols like WPA2.
7. Malware and Ransomware
Malware and ransomware are types of malicious software that can infect devices on a network, often resulting in stolen or locked data until a ransom is paid.
It’s imperative to have antivirus software installed on all devices and regularly scan for potential infections. Additionally, employees should be trained to identify suspicious emails or websites that could potentially contain malware.
8. DDoS Attacks
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack floods a network with overwhelming amounts of traffic in order to disrupt its functions and potentially shut it down.
While it can be difficult to prevent these types of attacks, having a specific, itemized plan in place for how to respond can help minimize the impact and get your network back up and running quickly.
9. Unsecured Network Devices
Weak default passwords or unsecured settings on network devices like routers and firewalls can leave them vulnerable to unauthorized access.
It’s important to regularly check and update the security settings on all network devices, including changing any default passwords.
10. Insider Threats
Unfortunately, not all threats come from external hackers – insider threats, or unauthorized access or actions by an organization’s own employees, can also compromise network security.
It’s essential that you regularly review and monitor access privileges for all employees, and establish policies and procedures for handling sensitive information.
While it may be impossible to completely eliminate all potential cyber vulnerabilities, staying informed on the latest threats and implementing strong security measures can help protect your business from damage and costly breaches.
Finding the Right IT Experts to Protect You Against Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities
Defending against hackers and cyber criminals attempting to take advantage of your cyber security vulnerabilities is basically a full-time job. And if you’re like most other business owners, you’ve already got your hands full dealing with managing your organization.
Considering how many different types of network security threats there are out there in the world today, it only makes sense that more businesses are choosing to ally themselves with highly-qualified managed service providers (MSPs) in order to effectively ward off these types of attacks in network security.
Here at Advanced Networks, we have decades of experience acting as the first line of defense against all of the above common network vulnerabilities and more. If you choose to enlist our managed IT services. Our security experts’ commitment to best-in-class reliability and innovation will ensure that all of your information security vulnerabilities are addressed, and that your overall cyber security measures are as effective as possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about if we’d be a good fit for your company, please feel free to set up a free consultation where we can help identify your specific needs as a team.