If anything has been made clear by recent strings of high-profile ransomware attacks, it is that businesses and organizations simply do not take security as seriously as they need to. We urge you to use this opportunity to reconsider your own levels of network security. Are you doing all that you can to keep your data and assets secure? There are countless threats out there, and they all must be addressed (or at least prepared for) in some way.
The below list is not exhaustive, but it does contain the most common threats to your network security, so it is as good a starting point as any. Remember, you can never be too prepared for a network security breach, so make sure you are prepared to address these at a bare minimum.
Viruses can range from mildly irritating to incredibly disruptive. They are essentially bits of code that do something or another to your computer, and they are notable here because they can spread to other systems, just like their namesake. Viruses can corrupt data, destroy files, and all sorts of other nasty things. You can get computer viruses by downloading malicious files, installing free software or applications, clicking on infected advertisements, clicking on the wrong link, etc.
Malware is just what it sounds like: malicious software that is designed to perform a specific task. Malware comes in many different forms, such as spyware (for spying on infected PCs) and adware (displays ads in extremely intrusive ways), but the main takeaway here is that you don’t want to deal with any of this under any circumstances. Malware is often tricky with how it installs on your devices, doing so in the background and performing its specified task without being detected. You can get malware in much the same way you would a computer virus.
Phishing attacks are more of a means to spread other threats rather than threats themselves. Essentially, hackers will send out spam messages with links or infected attachments in the hopes that the user will click on them or download the file, thereby infecting the device. Some phishing attacks are so well-crafted that it is difficult to tell whether they are legitimate or not.
Since ransomware is a much more high-profile threat than other types of malware, we decided to give it its own section here. Ransomware locks down files through the use of encryption, allowing access only after a ransom has been paid to the hacker—usually in the form of cryptocurrency. Some recent ransomware attacks are also threatening to release the encrypted data into the wild if the ransom is not paid, a practice which essentially forces businesses' hands to pay the ransom rather than using a data backup to get around this challenge.
Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service attacks happen when a botnet, or a network of infected computers, pings a server or infrastructure repeatedly with so much traffic that it is forced to shut down, effectively disrupting operations for anyone relying on it. You see this sometimes with websites or services, but these attacks can be leveraged against businesses, as well.
Trojans, also called backdoors, are threats that install themselves on devices and work in the background to create an opening for hackers to access at a later time. These can be used to steal data or infiltrate networks at the discretion of the hacker. These are particularly sly because it is not always clear when or if they have been installed, and if a hacker has access to your network whenever they want, just imagine all of the damage they can cause later on down the road.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are those that were previously unknown to developers either due to lack of knowledge or an inability to resolve the issue before the application’s release. These are particularly nasty because they exploit weaknesses that are not known in the security world, and they are often unknown until the threat is actively being exploited in the wild. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to avoid zero-day vulnerabilities besides keeping your software as up-to-date as possible, monitoring your network for irregularities, and trusting that developers are staying on top of patching security issues.
We cannot mention network security without mentioning user error. Your business is managed, maintained, and operated by people, and people make mistakes. All it takes is one of your employees clicking on the wrong link or downloading the wrong file to leave your network exposed. A combination of adequate security solutions to limit exposure to threats and proper security training is going to be the best safeguard against user error.
As for the former, you can get all the tools you need from XFER. We can help you put the right technology in place for any situation you may need. Give us a call at 734-927-6666 / 800-438-9337 to learn more about our comprehensive IT services.