It is almost impossible to secure a computer network from an attacker with the right amount of knowledge, time, and money. Although no system is absolutely immune from such potential security breaches, most attacks can be prevented with proper knowledge and training.
Why? Because most mainstream hackers use common and known exploits on whatever network is vulnerable. If one attack doesn’t work to break into a system, the hacker often has the possibility of trying other exploits which have often been known for some time.
The use of so-called zero-day exploits and unknown exploits is very rare. A zero-day vulnerability is a flaw discovered by attackers before the vendor. At this point, no patch exists, so attackers can easily exploit the vulnerability knowing that no defenses are in place. There are many examples of big outbreaks where many machines are affected, and the remedy existed in the form of a patch.
A vulnerability is a flaw or weakness in the design or implementation of a system or network that can be used to harm an organization’s operations or assets by compromising its confidentiality, integrity, or availability, either intentionally or unintentionally.
A network vulnerability is anything that poses a potential avenue for attack or security breach against a system. It can include viruses, passwords written on sticky pads, incorrectly configured systems, etc.
As a result of a weakness, design, or implementation error, a network vulnerability has the propensity to cause an unexpected and undesirable event that compromises the security of a network infrastructure.
In some cases, network vulnerabilities even make it impossible to implement or deploy applications properly to prevent an intruder from unauthorized access to a network in the future. Therefore, the need for a secure network has and will always be of paramount importance to anyone designing or administering it.
Most of the common network vulnerabilities can be founded by a vulnerability scanner. This article explains some of the common network vulnerabilities that threaten computer networks.
- Insecure/exposed Ports – Insecure/exposed ports do not immediately mean a security issue. But, they can provide a pathway for attackers to exploit shortcomings like weak credentials, no two-factor authentication, or even vulnerabilities. All remote attacks need to connect to an exposed service/port to communicate with the installed software. When open for the Internet, attackers can use open ports as an initial attack vector.
- Improper network configuration – Careless and improper network configuration opens the way for security breaches. Network administrators or network engineers need to learn the configuration weaknesses and how to correctly configure their network devices, including routers and switches, to compensate.
- Poorly secured Wi-Fi network – Wi-Fi lets you connect devices easily without any wiring. This convenience is also its vulnerability. A poorly secured Wi-Fi network lets nearby devices connect, getting past the firewall.
- Unauthorized devices – Unauthorized devices on the network such as mobile phones, tablets, USB flash drives, and unencrypted laptops open up serious risks even if the network has strong security requirements. The IT department should set standards for acceptable devices, including software, to protect the device and the network.
- Poor antivirus implementation – A correctly configured and up-to-date antivirus can often hinder an attack so that the attacker cannot gain any useful information even after a compromise.
- Poor and misconfigured firewall deployment – A firewall is useful for limiting a host’s network exposure. If an attacker gains access to the network or a virus/worm/malware/ransomware gains a foothold, a poor firewall deployment greatly increases the ease of a compromise. Ideally, all hosts should have the firewall enabled and configured to only expose services that are required.
- Poor Intrusion Detection System (IDS) setups – IDS is a combination of hardware and software that detects intrusions into a system or network. IDS complements a firewall by providing a thorough inspection of both the packets’ header and its contents, thus protecting against attacks.
- Indiscriminate enabling of services/access – Most organizations have an excessive number of user accounts to simplify day-to-day tasks of managing other servers and workstations. It’s a dangerous working practice because if a user visits a malicious website or opens a malicious email attachment, any virus, malware, or ransomware can spread throughout the network with the same rights, bypassing many built-in protections and infecting all hosts on the network.
- Week password implementation – Even if everything has been correctly configured, one weak password can allow for a network to be quickly compromised. Weak passwords are vulnerable to password brute force attacks.
- Lack of appropriate network security policies – A network security policy is a set of standardized practices and procedures that outlines network access rules, the architecture of the network, and security environments and determines how policies are enforced.
It is not all. Plenty of other individual factors can make your network vulnerable to hacks and cyberattacks, such as:
- Application backdoors.
- Disgruntled employees.
- Easy access to information.
- Unsecure applications/programs as a result of poor programming practices.
- Lack of efficient physical security.
- Insufficient security training and awareness.
- Carelessness on the path of users.
- Corporate espionage.