In network security planning, it’s important to find the biggest network security issues that can be fixed with the least amount of time and effort. Fixing major security flaws in your network helps to prevent cyberbreaches by closing potential avenues of attack.
The question is: “What are the biggest network security problems in your organization?” While a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment with a penetration test is the best way to determine your organization’s specific vulnerabilities, there are some common security issues that plague many companies in different industries.
Here’s a quick list of the top cybersecurity problems businesses face, and some quick fixes that can be applied to resolve them:
Network Security Issue #1: Attacks Targeting Third-Party Vendors (Supply Chain Attacks)
It’s possible to have a near-perfect security plan and practices in place for your company’s own network, but still be vulnerable to intrusion because of a third-party vendor your company works with. Numerous times, cyberbreaches have been traced back to a company’s third-party vendors or cloud-based services.
Cybercriminals may target third-party vendors who work with other companies because it’s an easy way to discretely gain access to multiple organizations (or to one otherwise well-protected target).
How to Fix This Security Issue:
When using cloud-based services or allowing third-party vendors access to your network, it’s important to exercise extreme caution. In your cybersecurity plan, you should specify that third-party vendors are only allowed access to a highly-restricted set of network assets—applying a policy of least privilege so that a compromised third party cannot be used as the launching point for a major cyberattack.
For cloud services, it’s important to ensure that all data is encrypted to prevent interception. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a common tool for helping to anonymize and encrypt web traffic—though they aren’t perfect solutions. Firewalls should be configured to perform thorough packet inspections—checking not just sender/destination, but actual packet contents as well.
Network Security Issue #2: Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks, or the practice of sending fraudulent messages to trick recipients into taking a potentially harmful action (giving away sensitive info, downloading malware, approving fake invoices, etc.), are an incredibly common cyberattack strategy. In fact, statistics cited by CSO Online indicate that “Phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents.”
One reason for the popularity of phishing strategies is that they often take very little in the way of time or resources to execute. Phishers can pose as vendors, other employees, customers, or executives in the company to trick potential targets. The problem is that it works all too often—with enough tries, a hacker will eventually find someone that will fall for their phishing bait.
How to Address This Security Issue:
There are a few things that companies can do to address phishing attacks:
- Conduct Anti-Phishing Training. Employees need to know what phishing attacks are and how to avoid them. Training employees to watch out for emails containing phrases like “final warning” or other urgent language designed to trigger a panic response can do a lot to curb phishing attacks. Additionally, employees should verify any requests for information by sending an email or phone call directly to the person making the request (without relying on the contact info in the email itself).
- Use Antivirus/Antimalware Software. Antivirus/antimalware solutions that can verify file downloads and identify potential malware can help catch dangerous files when employees miss them.
- Apply Anti-Phishing Solutions. There are specialized anti-phishing products out there that can check various communications channels (emails, texts, SM posts, collaboration apps, etc.) for signs of a phishing attack and flag suspicious messages. This helps make it easier for employees to recognize phishing attempts so they can be avoided.
- Conduct Simulated Phishing Attacks. Keeping employees on their toes with simulated phishing campaigns helps to improve alertness. When employees get “caught” by a fake phish, you can let them know and provide additional training to those who are struggling to avoid phishing attempts.
Network Security Issue #3: IoT Attacks
The use of internet-connected devices (the Internet of Things, or IoT) has made many work tasks easier. However, IoT devices are also an enormous security risk for businesses. IoT devices are often under-protected on a network—making them an easy starting point for cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals can bypass many layers of network security by taking over or contaminating an IoT device with malware. From there, the attacker may compromise more IoT devices, creating a large network of compromised devices that they can leverage.
How to Fix This Security Issue:
IoT devices should be kept up to date with the latest security patches and firmware updates to eliminate security flaws that have been previously identified. Additionally, IoT devices should be kept from connecting to new network access points automatically to prevent attackers from remotely connecting to them.
You should be extremely selective with the IoT devices that you add to your company’s network. When picking devices, check for known vulnerabilities or previous reports of attacks leveraging them and whether the vulnerabilities have been patched.
Network Security Issue #4: A Lack of Dedicated Cybersecurity Personnel
The supply of qualified cybersecurity specialists is nowhere near enough to supply the demand. In fact, according to Infosecurity Magazine, “Global IT security skills shortages have now surpassed four million.” When it comes to skilled cybersecurity staffing, it’s a seller’s market right now.
So, cybersecurity specialists not only command high salaries, but they have plenty of other opportunities to find employment. This makes it extremely difficult (and expensive) to recruit and retain in-house cybersecurity staff.
To avoid these costs, many companies try to make their IT team double as a cybersecurity team. Unfortunately, the IT team’s main priority isn’t to keep the business secure, but to ensure uptime and improve user experience—tasks that already demand their full time and attention. This creates problems as security issues get left unaddressed because of the lack of time and resources.
How to Fix This Security Issue:
The easiest way to address a lack of internal cybersecurity personnel is to outsource the cybersecurity function to a managed security service provider (MSSP). MSSPs specialize in addressing network security problems—so they have the training and resources to tackle them.
Additionally, it is often far less costly to hire an MSSP than it is to build a full internal cybersecurity team. Consider this: each cybersecurity specialist you hire may cost six figures in annual salary. If you need three to four such specialists, you can expect to spend nearly half a million each year on their salaries alone. Worse, there’s no guarantee that they won’t be snatched up by some other company—leaving you to scramble to replace them.
Need help protecting your company from modern cyber threats? Reach out to ideaBOX today to get started!