Phone showing a protected VPN on the screen to guard against network security threats

How to Identify Network Security Threats and Vulnerabilities

October 7, 2022
| Ryan Clancy |
Network Security

Anyone who operates a computer network is susceptible to security threats and vulnerabilities. Hackers, criminals, and other malicious actors often exploit these weaknesses to steal data or disrupt service. To protect your network from these threats, it is important to be able to identify them and take appropriate steps to mitigate risks. Here we will provide an overview of some of the most common security threats and vulnerabilities as well as tips on how to detect them.

What Is a Network Threat?

A network threat is when an attacker targets a computer network or the computers and devices connected to it. Network threats can cause significant damage to data, systems, and networks and lead to downtime or even complete system failure. There are many different types of network threats, but some of the most common include:
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks: A DoS attack is an attempt to make a computer or network resource unavailable to users. They can be carried out using various methods, including flooding the target with requests or traffic or exploiting vulnerabilities in the network or system.
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks: A DDoS attack is similar to a DoS attack, but multiple computers or devices, known as zombies, are used to carry out the attack. A large number of requests or traffic from the zombies can overwhelm the target, thus denying access to legitimate users. 
  • Malware: Malware or malicious software refers to any type of software that is designed to damage or disrupt a computer system. Viruses, worms, and Trojans are some examples of malware.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that attempts to trick users into revealing sensitive information, like passwords or credit card numbers. Such attacks are often carried out by email and may include links to fake websites that look identical to the real website (SecurityScorecard, 2021). 

What Are Network Vulnerabilities?

Network vulnerabilities are weaknesses in a computer network that malicious actors can exploit to gain unauthorized access, launch DoS attacks, or spread malware. While some vulnerabilities are unintentionally introduced during the design and implementation of a network, others may be deliberately introduced by attackers.

Common types of network vulnerabilities include unpatched software flaws, weak passwords, and open ports. To protect a network from attack, it is important to regularly scan for vulnerabilities and take steps to remediate them. Network administrators can use a variety of tools to perform vulnerability scans, including open source and commercial products.

Once a vulnerability has been identified, it is essential to fix the loophole based on the potential impact of an exploit. For example, a vulnerability that could allow an attacker to gain administrative access to a server should be addressed urgently. In contrast, a less critical vulnerability may be patched at a later time.

Network vulnerabilities can have a wide range of impacts, from causing minor disruptions to leading to complete system compromise. In some cases, attackers may exploit vulnerabilities to launch DoS attacks or steal sensitive data. In other cases, they may use vulnerabilities to gain control of systems and use them for malicious purposes such as sending spam or launching attacks against other targets.

What Are the Types of Network Security Threats?

While there are many different types of network security threats out there, some of the most dangerous ones include:

  • Viruses and Malware: Viruses and malware are malicious software programs that can infect your computer or network and cause serious damage. They can delete important files, steal confidential information, or even shut down your entire system.
  • SQL Injection Attacks: SQL injection attacks exploit vulnerabilities in web applications that use Structured Query Language (SQL) to communicate with databases. By injecting malicious SQL code into these vulnerable applications, attackers can gain access to sensitive data or even take control of the entire database.
  • OnPath Attacks: OnPath attacks occur when an attacker intercepts communication between two parties and impersonates each party to the other. This allows the attacker to eavesdrop on the conversation or modify the data being exchanged.
  • Password Attacks: Password attacks are common types of network attacks because they are very effective. There are many types of password attacks, but some of the most common include brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, and rainbow table attacks (EasyDmarc, 2022).

What Are the Main Types of Security Vulnerability?

In computer security, a vulnerability is a weakness that can be exploited by a threat actor, usually for malicious purposes. Vulnerabilities can be found in many different areas of a system, including hardware, software, networks, and even people.

There are four main types of security vulnerabilities:

  • Misconfigurations: Incorrectly configured systems and applications are often the weakest links in an organization’s security posture. A poorly configured firewall in cybersecurity, weak passwords, and leaving default accounts active are all examples of common misconfigurations that can lead to serious security vulnerabilities.
  • Unsecured APIs: Many modern applications rely on application programming interfaces (APIs) to function properly. However, if APIs are not properly secured, they can be a serious security vulnerability. Attackers can exploit unsecured APIs to gain access to sensitive data or even take control of entire systems.
  • Outdated or Unpatched Software: Software vulnerabilities are often the root cause of major security breaches. Outdated software is especially vulnerable, as attackers can exploit known weaknesses that have already been patched in newer versions. Unpatched software is also a major security risk, as many organizations fail to apply critical security updates in a timely manner.
  • Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: A zero-day vulnerability is a previously unknown security flaw exploited by attackers before the vendor has patched it. These types of vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous, as there is usually no way to defend against them until after they have been exploited (CrowdStrike, 2022).

So, what can you do to address these types of security vulnerabilities?

Learn More About Risk and Vulnerability Assessment with C|ND

As the world increasingly moves online, the need for network security professionals who are up to date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities has never been greater. EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender (C|ND) program is designed to provide IT professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to protect networks from a wide range of attacks.

As a certified network defender, you can protect your organization’s infrastructure from online threats. The C|ND modules teach you risk and vulnerability assessment to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities in your network, using tools like a network vulnerability scanner and UTM firewall. This knowledge will help you mitigate these risks and vulnerabilities, thereby protecting your organization’s data and resources.

For more details, visit: https://www.eccouncil.org/programs/certified-network-security-course/

References

EasyDmarc. (2022, May 29). What is a password attack in cyber security? https://easydmarc.com/blog/what-is-a-password-attack-in-cyber-security/‌

CrowdStrike. (2022, February 14). 7 most common types of cyber vulnerabilities. https://www.crowdstrike.com/cybersecurity-101/types-of-cyber-vulnerabilities/

Security Scorecard. (2021, May 26). How to identify network security threats and vulnerabilities. https://securityscorecard.com/blog/identify-network-security-threats-and-vulnerabilities

About the Author

Ryan Clancy is a writer and blogger. With 5+ years of mechanical engineering experience, he’s passionate about all things engineering and tech. He also loves bringing engineering (especially mechanical) down to a level that everyone can understand. Ryan lives in New York City, and writes about everything engineering and tech.

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