Top 5 Network Security Risks in 2023
Modern network security takes a layered approach to protect the many edges of the network and network perimeter. Explore basics and risks of network security.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Network security refers to the technologies, processes, and policies used to protect networks, network traffic, and network-accessible assets from cyberattacks, unauthorized access, and data loss. Organizations of all sizes need network security to protect their critical assets and infrastructure.
Modern network security takes a layered approach to protect the many edges of the network and the network perimeter. Any element of the network could be an entry point for attackers—endpoint devices, data paths, applications, or users. Because organizations face numerous potential threats, it is common to deploy multiple network security controls designed to address different types of threats at different layers of the network and infrastructure. This is called a defense in-depth security approach.
Top 5 Network Security Risks in 2023
Supply Chain Attacks
Supply chain attacks exploit relationships between organizations and external parties. Here are a few ways an attacker could exploit this trust relationship:
Third-party access: Companies often allow vendors and other external parties to access their IT environments and systems. If an attacker gains access to a trusted partner's network, they can exploit the partner's legitimate access to corporate systems.
Trusted external software: All companies use third-party software and make it available on their network. If an attacker can inject malicious code into third-party software or updates, the malware can access trusted and sensitive data or sensitive systems in an organization's environment. This was the method used for the global-scale SolarWinds hack.
Third-party code: Almost all applications contain third-party and open-source code and libraries. This external code could contain exploitable vulnerabilities or malicious functions that could be abused by an attacker. If your organization's applications are vulnerable or rely on malicious code, they are vulnerable to attacks and exploits. A high-profile example of a third-party code exploit was the Log4j vulnerability.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) designed to lock data on a targeted computer and display a ransom note. Typically, ransomware programs use encryption to lock data and demand payment in cryptocurrency in return for a decryption key.
Cybercriminals often go to the deep web to buy ransomware kits. These software tools enable attackers to generate ransomware with certain functionalities and distribute it to demand ransom from victims. Another option for acquiring ransomware is Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), which delivers affordable ransomware programs that require little or no technical expertise to operate. It makes it easier for cybercriminals to launch attacks quickly and with minimal effort.
Types of Ransomware
There are many types of ransomware available for cybercriminals, each working differently. Here are common types:
Scareware: This type imitates tech support or security software. Its victims might receive pop-up notifications claiming there is malware on their system. It typically continues to pop up until the victim responds.
Encrypting ransomware: This ransomware encrypts the victim's data, demanding a payment to decrypt the files. However, victims might not get access to their data back even if they negotiate or comply with the demand.
Master boot record ransomware: This ransomware type encrypts the entire hard drive, not just the user's files. It makes it impossible to gain access to the operating system.
Mobile ransomware: This enables attackers to deploy mobile ransomware to steal data from phones or encrypt it and demand a ransom in return for unlocking the device or returning the data.
An API attack is the malicious use or compromise of an application programming interface (API). API security comprises practices and technologies that prevent attackers from exploiting and abusing APIs. Hackers target APIs because they are at the heart of modern web applications and microservices architectures.
Examples of API attacks include:
Injection attack: This type of attack occurs when an API does not properly validate its inputs and allows attackers to submit malicious code as part of API requests. SQL injection (SQLi) and cross-site scripting (XSS) are the most prominent examples, but there are others. Most types of injection attacks, traditionally aimed at websites and databases, can also be used against APIs.
DoS/DDoS attacks: In a denial-of-service (DoS) or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, an attacker attempts to make the API unavailable to a target user. Rate limiting can help mitigate small-scale DoS attacks, but large-scale DDoS attacks can leverage millions of computers, and can only be addressed with cloud-scale anti-DDoS technology.
Data exposure: APIs frequently process and transmit sensitive data, including credit card information, passwords, session tokens, or personally identifiable information (PII). Data can be compromised if the API handles data incorrectly, if it can easily be tricked into providing data to unauthorized users, and if attackers manage to compromise the API server.
Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks employ various psychological manipulation techniques, such as trickery and coercion, to make a target do a certain action. Here are common social engineering tactics:
Phishing: Phishing is an attempt to trick a recipient into taking a certain action that benefits the attacker. Attackers send phishing messages using various platforms, such as email, corporate communications apps, and social media. These messages might trick their target into opening a malicious attachment, revealing sensitive information like login credentials, or clicking a malicious link.
Spear phishing: A phishing attack that targets a certain person or group, using information about the target to make the phishing message seem more believable. For instance, a spear phishing email to finance personnel might claim to send an unpaid invoice from the targeted company’s legitimate supplier.
Smishing: These phishing attacks use SMS text messages, taking advantage of common characteristics, like link shortening services, to trick victims into clicking malicious links.
Vishing: This occurs when an attacker attempts to convince the victim to perform a certain action or reveal sensitive data, like login credentials or credit card information. Vishing is performed over the phone.
An MitM attack, or man-in-the-middle attack, is a type of network attack in which an attacker intercepts a data transfer or conversation between two parties. An attacker can successfully transfer and impersonate one of the parties.
By intercepting the communication, an attacker can steal data or alter the data transmitted between participants, for example by inserting a malicious link. Both parties are unaware of the manipulation until it is too late. Common targets for MitM attacks include users of financial applications, e-commerce websites, and other systems that require authentication.
There are many ways to carry out an MitM attack. Attackers can compromise a public free Wi-Fi hotspot, and when users connect to these hotspots, attackers have full visibility over their activity. Attackers can also use IP spoofing, ARP spoofing, or DNS spoofing to redirect users to a malicious website, or redirect user-submitted data to the attacker instead of their intended destination.
In this article, I explained the basics of network security and covered 5 network security risks:
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) designed to lock data on a targeted computer and display a ransom note
- API attacks: An API attack is the malicious use or compromise of an application programming interface.
- Social engineering attacks: Social engineering attacks employ various psychological manipulation techniques to make a target do a certain action.
- Supply chain attacks: Supply chain attacks exploit relationships between organizations and external parties.
- MitM attacks: An MitM attack is a type of network attack in which an attacker intercepts a data transfer or conversation between two parties.
I hope this will be useful as you begin taking the appropriate measures against these attacks.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.