Ways Hackers Get Around Your Firewall & Antivirus
Building a Digital Fortress: Strengthening Your Business Against Advanced Cyber Threats
In a rapidly digitizing world, cybersecurity isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity. Your firewall and antivirus software may seem like impenetrable fortresses guarding your valuable business data, but you’d be surprised to know how crafty hackers can bypass these defenses. Understanding their tactics can help you strengthen your defenses and protect your business.
Social Engineering & Phishing Attacks
Social engineering and phishing attacks are among the most common ways hackers get past your security systems. No matter how secure your firewall or advanced your antivirus software is, if a team member unknowingly hands over their credentials, your business is at risk. These attacks often come in the form of seemingly innocent emails, text messages or phone calls designed to trick employees into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers and other vital data and can lead to email hijacking or last data and dollars.
Protective Measures: Regular employee training on identifying and reporting suspicious emails, calls or messages and testing employees can drastically reduce the effectiveness of these attacks. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and advanced email security can also add extra layers of security, even if login credentials are compromised.
Malware & Zero-Day Exploits
Hackers often use malware—malicious software like viruses, worms, Trojans and ransomware—to infiltrate networks. They exploit vulnerabilities in software and operating systems that vendors are yet unaware of, so they don’t have patches for, known as zero-day exploits. These loopholes allow hackers to bypass your firewall and install malware on your system, often undetected by antivirus software.
Protective Measures: Regular software updates and patches are vital for closing potential security gaps. Most companies think that patches are getting done, but don’t receive regular reports to verify all patches are successfully implemented. Employing next gen endpoint or network protection that uses behavioral analysis can detect and neutralize these threats, even if they are not included in the latest virus definitions.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are commonly used for secure, remote access to a network. However, poorly configured or outdated VPNs can become easy access points for hackers. They can exploit vulnerabilities in the VPN software to gain entry into your network, bypassing firewall and antivirus protections.
Protective Measures: Ensure your VPN software is always up-to-date. Implement strong user authentication methods and use VPNs that offer high-grade encryption and security features.
Credential Stuffing & Brute Force Attacks
In a brute force attack, a hacker attempts to gain access to your network by trying numerous password combinations until they hit the right one. Credential stuffing is a slightly more sophisticated version of this attack, where cybercriminals use stolen username and password combinations to gain unauthorized access. These types of attacks can circumvent firewalls and antivirus software if successful.
Protective Measures: Use robust, unique passwords and consider a reputable password manager. Enable account lockouts or progressive delay mechanisms after a specific number of failed login attempts to deter brute force attacks. Other options to reduce risk in this area would be, again, MFA and dark web scanning to be alerted to change your password if your credentials were found on the dark web.
Insider threats are perhaps the most challenging to prevent. These threats come from within your company, either from disgruntled employees or those who unintentionally expose your network to risk. Given they already have access to your network, insider threats can bypass firewalls and antivirus software with ease.
Protective Measures: Implement strict access controls and privilege levels to minimize potential damage. Regular audits and monitoring can help identify unusual activity. Promote a culture of cybersecurity awareness to reduce unintentional insider threats.
It’s evident that while firewalls and antivirus software form a crucial part of your cybersecurity infrastructure, they aren’t impervious. To safeguard your business, you need to adopt a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Regular vulnerability scanning and penetration testing can identify potential weak points in your security setup and provide you with a roadmap to strengthen your defenses.
To start a discussion of how you can work vulnerability scans and penetration testing into your cybersecurity protocols, contact an Adams Brown Technology advisor.