Blog Blog

4 Common Network Vulnerabilities

Although threat actors aim to take advantage of the latest vulnerabilities, there are also recurring weak aspects of networks that they continue to exploit. Taking proactive steps to identify and mitigate the most common network vulnerabilities can help reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

In this post, we’ll talk about some of the most common network vulnerabilities that organizations must constantly be on the lookout for.

Table of Contents

What Are Network Vulnerabilities?

Network vulnerabilities refer to flaws, weaknesses, misconfigurations, and issues that attackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access to a network. They widen an organization’s attack surface and expose them to various threats.

Network vulnerabilities can be present in an organization’s hardware, software, and related processes. In the context of attack surface management (ASM), we will focus on network vulnerabilities relevant to software and connected systems.

What Are the Most Common Network Vulnerabilities?

Common Network Vulnerabilities

Weak Cipher Suites

Cipher suites are cryptographic algorithms used to protect the data transmitted over a network. Attackers can easily crack weak cipher suites, allowing them to intercept or modify data in transit. For example, MD5 and SHA-1 were once widely used but have been found weak and vulnerable to attacks. They are no longer considered secure and should not be used.

Organizations can reduce cyber risks by configuring their networks and systems to only use strong cipher suites. They can employ a network scanner or an ASM platform to identify and remediate weak cipher suites on their networks.

Outdated Software

Outdated software may contain known security vulnerabilities that have been patched in newer versions. Attackers can exploit these unpatched vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to a network or its data.

For example, in 2021, attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the Apache Log4j2 (e.g., CVE-2021-44228, CVE-2021-45046, and CVE-2021-44832) to gain access to various systems, including networks, servers, and cloud applications. The vulnerabilities were patched in a newer version of Log4j2, but organizations that haven’t updated their systems remain vulnerable to attacks.

Poor Firewall Configurations

Firewalls are devices that monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. They can be used to protect networks from unauthorized access and attacks. However, if a firewall is not configured correctly, it can leave a network vulnerable.

An example of poor firewall configuration that can create network vulnerabilities is when unnecessary or unused ports are left open. An attacker may scan the network for open ports and exploit a vulnerability in a service running on one of those ports to gain access.

To prevent threat actors from exploiting such a network vulnerability, a security best practice is to preventively scan for open ports on a regular basis.

Shadow IT

Lastly, a type of network vulnerability that has become prominent in recent years is shadow IT or the use of IT resources that are not authorized or supported by the IT department.

While shadow IT is not a network vulnerability in the traditional sense, it can significantly increase the risk of network vulnerabilities as hidden assets are likely left unprotected. In fact, shadow IT often introduces new and unpatched software and hardware to the network, exposing an organization to potential exploitation.

Shadow IT can also bypass security controls implemented by the IT department, creating new and undocumented network connections.

Organizations can reduce risks by educating employees about the risks of shadow IT and implementing policies and procedures that prohibit the practice. Monitoring infrastructure for unauthorized IT systems and applications is also a recommended standard practice.

A network vulnerability can come from anywhere, including employees, software, systems, firewalls, and cryptography. Regularly scanning your network and IT infrastructure can help identify vulnerabilities so you can immediately take steps to remediate them before attackers can exploit them.

Interested to see what network vulnerabilities you could have? Schedule a customized demo now to see how Attaxion can help you.

Interested to Learn More?