4 Scariest Threats to your Network

It’s that time of year again: Children dress up in costume, adults adorn their houses with spooky decorations and it’s simply fun to be a little scared. And while this spirit of ghouls, ghosts and goblins surrounds us during the fall, there’s nothing fun about threats to your company’s network.

This asset literally forms the backbone of modern business, and any vulnerabilities or exploits could bring critical processes to a screeching halt. In order to protect yourself, your network and the sensitive, mission-critical information that resides and is accessed there, it’s essential that you know what you’re up against.

Here, we’ve put together a list of the scariest threats to the network, as well as a few tips and best practices to guide your security efforts. Just like a spooky story designed to scare the little ones, these threats paint a vividly terrifying picture, but can help ensure that you’re not only aware, but prepared. Let’s take a look:

1) Ransomware: Data and files taken hostage

There’s nothing more frightening than the idea of not being able to access the critical information, files and applications that your company requires to do business. However, the first item on our list looks to do just that.
Ransomware isn’t a new threat – it’s been infecting networks and sending shivers down IT teams’ spines for years now. What is alarming, however, is how quickly new ransomware samples are appearing and how fast this threat has grown.

According to statistics gathered by Systweak, ransomware samples aren’t just spreading quicker than ever – these infections are also more successful for the cyberspooks behind them. Since the beginning of 2016, experts have discovered a 500 percent increase in ransomware distribution, primarily through malicious emails and websites.

Making matters worse, hackers are now demanding higher ransom amounts. Hackers blackmailed businesses and individuals into paying more than $2 million in ransom in the first quarter of this year alone, making this not only a scary threat, but an expensive one as well.

2) Phishing attacks: Setting the bait and trapping the prey

Another hair-raising threat to your network is an attack that comes as a result of phishing.

These types of infections are akin to a hunter setting a trap and waiting nearby for its catch. A hacker creates an email message that looks to be from a real and reputable sender. The recipient is tricked into opening the message, which usually includes a malicious link to an infected website or attachment that unleashes malware within the network.

During Q1 of this year, phishing attacks grew by a staggering 250 percent, according to The Anti-Phishing Working Group. Overall, more than 289,000 unique phishing websites were created by hackers and detected by security researchers.

3) Brute force attacks: Determined hackers break down walls

Attacks and infections brought on by the brute force of hackers are also nothing new, but they certainly are fearsome threats to your corporate network. The most bone-chilling aspect of these attacks isn’t just the way by which cybercriminals go about infecting the network, it’s also their determination. After all, according to the logistics of brute force attacks, it’s only a matter of time before a motivated hacker is able to decode sensitive authentication credentials with the help of trial-and-error and advanced algorithmic tools.

Brute force attacks are increasingly successful when users leverage unsecure passwords that include common words or a string of sequential numbers, as it reduces the effort needed to break them. According to security research firm Calyptix, nearly 20 percent of all cyberattacks last year came at the hands of determined hackers using brute force techniques.

4) Human error: It’s coming from inside!

Some of the best horror story twists happen when the monster has been inside the house with the victim all along, and security breaches that occur due to human error are no different. After all, many company leaders and IT managers don’t consider the risk that a company’s own employees can create.

In fact, a 2015 study from CompTIA found that more than half – 52 percent – of all security breaches happen because of errors made on the part of users. These include a failure to follow procedures (42 percent), overall carelessness (42 percent) as well as not keeping up with the most current threats (31 percent).

As this study shows, it’s invaluably important to be aware of the latest techniques hackers are using. In this way, your company and its users can work together to avoid cybercriminals’ traps and remain protected.

It’s also critical to have robust security tools on your side. For more information on how a next-generation firewall can help prevent the scariest threats to your network, contact Untangle today.