What are the Top 10 Network Vulnerabilities?

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Introduction

Cyber-attacks have increased exponentially and hacking an organization’s network is the most common thing nowadays in the hacking world. You often hear that a hacker kicked out the company’s admins from the network and took over all the access. Every day we are hearing about these new data breaches happening. As a security expert, you would not want to be responsible for letting something like that happen in your organization. 

To prevent this, you need to regularly perform vulnerability scans of your network and patch the vulnerabilities found or fix them in any way they need to be fixed. Network security is crucial for any organization, it is designed to protect the usability and integrity of the network and the data. It includes both hardware and software technologies. In this article, I will make you aware of the top 10 network vulnerabilities found in any organization’s network.

What are Network Vulnerabilities?

Network vulnerabilities are the weaknesses that are present in an environment related to hosts, ports, and services in a network. These are identified through network scanning tools, which identify the vulnerabilities present in the network. For example, you can use the Nmap tool, which is a great tool used for scanning networks looking for hosts and the open ports they have, and what services they’re running. Nmap or Network Mapper is the tool used by hackers to scan networks to find live hosts or find targets to hack. Hackers use this tool to find out more information about the targets.

Here are the top 10 network vulnerabilities that you must be aware of.

Top 10 Network Vulnerabilities

1. USB Flash Drives

Getting inside a company’s network using a USB flash drive is one of the most common ways used by hackers. If you have seen the Snowden movie or Edward Snowden’s documentary, you would know how easily he could get into the National Security Agency network and get all the unauthorized data with just a USD flash drive.

Basically, hackers use the USB flash drive to inject malware in the target’s network to infect it and gain access. There are many types of malware these days, such as viruses, works, trojans, ransomware, etc., which are being used by black hat hackers to infiltrate big organization’s networks. The USB flash drive needs to be inserted inside the organization’s network, and the malicious code (malware) will automatically start executing. To avoid such scenarios, you should always perform regular scanning of your network. Many organizations also restrict usage of USB flash drives internally or scan them once they are inserted in the USD drive.

2. Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are no more just a calling and messaging device now. They can do almost everything which a PC can do. Most mobile phones are connected through Wi-Fi, and sometimes people also connect to unknown Wi-Fi networks if it is free to use. This gives an excellent opportunity to hack a mobile device. You wouldn’t even get to know, but once you are on a rogue network using Wi-Fi, the hacker will get all the data stored on your mobile phone, including email passwords, bank login credentials, credit/debit card details, etc. 

Installing unknown applications on your mobile phone would be a big mistake. Hackers often show you free ads and ask you to install the application for free. Once you do that, you give all the access to your mobile device to them. To avoid such scenarios, you should always have a proper authentication setup on your mobile device. Organizations also enforce strict policies for conducting business using personal mobile devices.

3. Misconfigured Firewalls

A firewall is an essential entity in any organization’s security policy. Many a time when the organization grows bigger, managing a firewall becomes complex. Due to high complexity, network administrators often make mistakes in editing the firewall configurations.  This gives an opportunity for culprits to get inside the organization’s network. 95% of firewall breaches are due to misconfigurations.

If you are not updating and patching the firewalls regularly, this can also lead your network vulnerable. Most organizations make the mistake of not monitoring their firewall configurations regularly, and later they have to pay a heavy price for this ignorance. Regular firewall monitoring will also help in identifying misconfigurations done by the network administrators.

4. Email

Emails are the most familiar carrier of the malware created by the hacker. They will send you an email with an attachment that will look very authentic, but the moment you download the attachment on your device, you might end up giving access to the network you were connected to. The malware gets executed once the attachment is downloaded. 

Even phishing attacks are executed through email the majority of times. You will receive links in your email which will redirect you to a duplicate/fraud website which will look legitimate to you. Once you login to that website and enter sensitive information such as card details, the hackers get all the details and can easily use them to access your network.

5. SQL Injections                                            

Every working organization would have a database where all the data of the organization gets stored. Getting access to the database in the wrong hands can damage the company and result in high gains for hackers. 

SQL injection is another vulnerability that is often found on a website or a web application. Hackers run SQL injection attacks, where malicious SQL queries are executed in order to get inside a web application’s database server by finding its weaknesses.

In SQL injection, you manipulate a database query to make it do something that it is ideally not supposed to do. You ingest some malicious string in the query, which gets executed on the database server and returns all the information asked in the query.

6. DDos

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Professional hackers use this attack to get into a large organization’s network. In this attack, the hacker sends huge amount of data requests on the organizations server which it is not able to handle and goes down after hitting the maximum request bandwidth.

The hacker keeps sending a large number of data packets on the targeted network until it is down to get inside the network. Once the network system is down, the hackers infiltrate into the network to steal crucial organization’s information.

7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is executed on the client-side of a web application through a code injection attack. In Cross-site scripting, the attacker does not target a victim directly, instead, an attacker would be exploiting a vulnerability within a website or something like a web application. In cross-site scripting, the attacker injects malicious script through the web browser. This malicious script executes when the victim visits the web page or web server, or web application. The attacker then steals cookies, session tokens, and other sensitive information. Once they get into the system, they modify the contents of the website. 

XSS is amongst the most rampant web application vulnerabilities and occurs when a web application uses something like an unvalidated or unencoded user input within the output that it generates.

8. Data Leaks

In recent years, there have been multiple cases where a lot of customer information got leaked. This information contains name, phone number, email, passwords, bank accounts, etc. Hackers are able to get such important data by penetrating the network through brute force attacks and backdoor access. This often happens when the data is stored without proper encryption and protection. Once they get access to such internal customer data, they sell the data on black market to make money. Such situations have affected the brand of multiple big organizations, who could not keep their customer data secure.

9. IoT Networks

Many people are still able to keep their mobile devices, laptops, etc. secure, but what about smartwatches, smart wrist bands, home theatres, smart home applications, etc. Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the fastest growing technology, which is used for automation by intelligent devices, where the machine talks to you through data. All the devices which come under IoT are most often connected to the same network as your mobile. For example, your smartwatch would be connected to the same Wi-Fi as your mobile phone. People often miss out on thinking about such devices, which can also leave a door for hackers to get inside your system’s network. 

10. Outdated or Unpatched Software

Software developers often keep on adding patches to their applications to remove security vulnerabilities and errors and bugs found in their previous versions. Having outdated or unpatched software on your system makes it easier for hackers to identify the weak spot in your system’s network. 

Maintaining code security is not an easy task. Bigger applications with thousands of lines of code are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. For example, big organizations like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc., release security patches almost daily to secure their network environment. 

Conclusion

That was all about the most common network vulnerabilities known till today. As a security expert in an organization, you need to be one step ahead of the hackers to need your network secure. If you are a network administrator, make sure you are well aware of such vulnerabilities and do a proper check of your organization’s network to look for such network vulnerabilities. There are many security best practices that you can follow to keep your network safe and away from the vulnerabilities mentioned in this article.

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