Battle Network Security Threats with Preventative Practices and Education – Part 2

In the thick of an increasingly IoT heavy era, an array of diligent efforts must be set in place to keep an enterprise network secure including preventative measures, monitoring network on-ramps, and educating end users.

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The 2016 Enterprise Phishing Susceptibility and Resiliency Report from PhishMe found that 91 percent of cyberattacks start with a phishing email. The top reasons people are duped by phishing emails are curiosity (13.7%), fear (13.4%), and urgency (13.2%), followed by reward/recognition, social, entertainment, and opportunity.To protect against these types of threats, set training programs for employees so they recognize phishing attacks, implement email and content filtering, and conduct ongoing education programs.

Penetration Testing

One proactive security measure for preventing attacks is more frequent penetration (pen) testing or simulated attacks, which also is a requirement for PCI Compliance and should be a key part of a CIO’s auditing process. 

Network threats come from a vast array of directions these days — everything from phishing attacks to employees plugging USB drives into their laptops. At both the corporate and branch level, pen testing uncovers system weaknesses and aids in correcting vulnerabilities. Pen tests don't eliminate all threats, but they do help IT departments determine next steps for strengthening network security controls.

Two-Factor Authentication

With the increasing value of usernames and passwords on the black market, two-factor authentication is an underrated end-user security strategy. By requiring users to present two pieces of identification — ranging from tokens to security codes — at each login, two-factor authentication provides an added layer of safety.

Two-factor authentication is less convenient than other access methods, but as cyber intrusions via password-protected devices persist, it could be worth the effort. From network architecture to end-user caution, it takes a variety of diligent efforts to keep an enterprise network secure.

Monitor Network On-ramps

Every network on-ramp is an opportunity  for hackers to access data on an enterprise network. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the digital transformation fueling a more mobile and Elastic EdgeSM, CIOs should be mindful of the influx of security challenges this now presents.

IoT has ushered in an onslaught of attacks on the web-based management platforms that run IoT devices. For years, companies have been producing consumer-grade devices with a focus on productivity, customer experience, and revenue streams—but very little on security. Because of this, it is equally important to carefully consider network architecture. IoT on-ramps should be tied to the Parallel Network strategy and only enterprise-grade solutions should be tested in architecture planning.

Bluetooth, the wireless technology that powers a variety of hands-free applications, is a network on-ramp that hasn’t been watched very closely. Because of this, it’s poised to become a new favorite area of attack for hackers. Many mobile devices, laptops, and vehicles feature Bluetooth technology, making it a prime target for malicious activity. A recent article from Security Intelligence illustrates proof that the Internet of Things, and specifically on-ramps like Bluetooth, must be secured.    

Educate Employees

Failure to educate end users about careful network selection in public settings presents sizable risk. When an employee wants to work remotely from a coffee shop, airplane, or hotel room that offers free Internet, the potential for malicious activity is significant. A bad actor can pose as that location’s Internet access and serve as a gateway through which people access the web. With the ability to survey all the Internet traffic at a public location, the hacker basically is in control of everything. It’s very difficult to detect this type of attack.

When an employee whose device was unknowingly attacked at a coffee shop returns to the office and plugs in, now the company network is at risk. It’s very difficult to know what network your team’s devices have been using. To help mitigate this risk, cloud-based services such as content filtering and secure VPNs should be a critical part of the network security strategy.

Every network on-ramp involves people. IT managers can routinely survey network architecture and monitor on-ramps. Software-defined, cloud-based management platforms should be an integral part of a network security strategy. Amid the ever-increasing importance of the IoT, it will take a combination of efforts to keep enterprise networks as secure as possible.