Top Network Attacks & Threats (And How to Protect Yourself)

Top Network Attacks & Threats (And How to Protect Yourself)

A network attack involves an effort to obtain unauthorized entry into an entity's network, typically with the objective of disrupting operations, stealing information, or tampering with data.

These attacks can take various forms and are executed with malicious intent, posing significant threats to the security and integrity of digital assets. Network attacks are a serious concern for businesses and individuals alike, as they can result in data breaches, financial losses, and damage to reputation. Understanding the nature of network attacks is essential for implementing effective security measures.

For example, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can disrupt a college campus network. Attackers use a network of compromised devices to overwhelm the college's network with excessive traffic, rendering online services inaccessible. This disrupts operations, causes financial losses, and damages the college's reputation. 

In a Nile network, user/device level segmentation and isolation are automatically enabled, after mandating secure authorized network access. This does not require the need for virtual LANs (VLAN) or static ACLs to be configured manually across wired access switches, wired distribution switches, Wi-Fi access points or controllers. This means that each user or device is isolated from any other device and cannot be the point of entry for any attack against the IT infrastructure. By extending zero trust principles to the campus and branch networks, Nile Access Service radically reduces the attack surface across local area networks (LAN). 

Common types of network attacks

Network attacks can span across various sources and exploit a wide range of vulnerabilities. Some common networks attacks to be aware of include: 


This type of network attack aims to deceive users into revealing sensitive information, often through seemingly legitimate emails or websites. Phishing is a prevalent form of social engineering and can lead to unauthorized access or identity theft.

Denial of Service (DoS)

In a DoS attack, the attacker overwhelms a network or system to make it unavailable for users. This often involves bombarding the target with excessive requests, rendering it unable to serve legitimate users.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM)

During a MitM attack, the attacker secretly intercepts and possibly alters communication between two parties. This can happen in various settings, including email communications or during secure financial transactions.

Malware distribution

Attackers use the network to spread harmful software, often via deceptive emails, downloads, or malicious websites. Anti-malware tools are essential for detection and removal.

Zero-day attacks

This type of network attack exploits a software vulnerability that is unknown to the vendor and hence unpatched. Zero-day attacks are particularly dangerous because they can go undetected until significant damage has occurred.

Inside threat

Network attacks can also originate from within an organization. Insiders with malicious intent or unintentional actions can compromise network security. Implementing access controls and monitoring is crucial to mitigate this threat.

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

APTs are long-term, targeted attacks by well-funded and skilled adversaries. They often use various attack vectors, including network exploitation, to gain unauthorized access and maintain persistence in a network. Detecting and responding to APTs requires advanced security measures and constant vigilance.

Why do network attacks happen?

Understanding the root causes of network attacks can significantly enhance your preventive strategies. Here, we delve into the various motivations and triggers that lead to these security incidents.

Vulnerable systems

A lack of proper security measures like firewalls or anti-malware solutions can make a system highly susceptible to network attacks. Unpatched software and outdated hardware further exacerbate the problem. By neglecting basic security protocols, organizations essentially roll out the red carpet for attackers.

Financial gain

Network attacks often target organizations for financial gain, aiming to steal sensitive data like credit card numbers or proprietary information. Ransomware attacks, in which the attacker encrypts data and demands payment for its release, are a prime example. Such financially-motivated attacks can have devastating consequences for any business.

Ideological reasons

Some attackers are motivated not by money but by ideological or political causes. These "hacktivists" target organizations to make a statement, disrupt operations, or leak sensitive information for ethical or political reasons. These types of attacks can be particularly challenging to anticipate and defend against.

Fame or challenges

For some attackers, the motivation is neither financial nor ideological; it's about the challenge or the notoriety that comes with successfully penetrating a system. These attackers often seek to prove their skills in the hacker community, garnering fame and reputation points.

Can vulnerability scanners prevent network attacks?

Vulnerability scanners cannot prevent network attacks directly, but they play a vital role in improving network security, which can help prevent such attacks. Vulnerability scanners are tools designed to discover weaknesses in a network by simulating various attacks. While they play a crucial role in identifying vulnerabilities, it's important to note their limitations.

Identifying vulnerabilities

Vulnerability scanners excel at identifying gaps in your network security, such as open ports or unpatched software. They provide a comprehensive list of weaknesses that could be exploited in a network attack.

Not a comprehensive solution

While these tools are essential for any security setup, they are not a one-stop solution. Scanners can't always identify zero-day vulnerabilities or more sophisticated threats that require behavioral analysis to detect.

Regular updates required

For vulnerability scanners to be effective, they need to be kept up-to-date with the latest threat databases. Without regular updates, they may miss out on newly discovered vulnerabilities, giving you a false sense of security.

Augmented with other security measures

To prevent network attacks effectively, vulnerability scanners should be used in conjunction with other security measures like firewalls and anti-malware tools. Products like Nile Access Service provide comprehensive network security by adhering to zero-trust principles and ensuring network performance.

Network protection best practices

Adhering to best practices for network protection is essential to mitigate the risk of network attacks. Here are some key strategies that can significantly improve your network's security posture.

Implement multi-factor authentication

Utilizing multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides an extra layer of security. Requiring multiple forms of verification prevents unauthorized access, even if passwords are compromised.

Conduct regular software updates

Frequently updating software and system components helps patch known vulnerabilities. Many network attacks exploit these weak points, so staying current is crucial for defense.

Educate employees

Humans can often be the weakest link in network security. Regular training sessions can educate employees about the dangers of phishing scams and unsafe web practices, thereby reducing the risk of compromise.

Deploy anti-malware tools

Running anti-malware tools is crucial for identifying and neutralizing malicious software. Keeping these tools updated and conducting regular scans ensures your network remains secure.

Adopt zero-trust architecture

Incorporating a zero-trust architecture into your network eliminates implicit trust in any component or user, significantly enhancing security. This approach verifies and validates every request, effectively reducing the potential attack surface.

Segregate the network

Network segmentation and user/device level isolation involves dividing the network into smaller, isolated segments. This makes it harder for attackers to move laterally across the network, containing any potential threats. Ideally this should not require any manual configuration across the infrastructure and should automatically be enforced across the network. 

Maintain continuous monitoring

Constant monitoring of network activities enables you to detect suspicious behavior early on. This proactive approach aids in taking immediate corrective action before any significant damage occurs.

Utilize intrusion detection and prevention systems

Incorporating intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) can identify and stop potential attacks in real-time. These systems monitor network traffic for suspicious activities, providing an additional layer of security.

How do you protect your business from network attacks?

Ensuring the security of your business network requires a multi-layered approach. Let's explore some advanced strategies for effective protection.

Partner wisely

Working with a trusted networking technology provider with built-in security capabilities can significantly reduce risk while improving network availability and performance. Nile Access Service is built with zero trust networking in place, enforcing the strong security principles while preserving productivity for digital initiatives.

Conduct regular security audits

Routine security audits can identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of your current measures. Such audits make data-driven adjustments to your security strategy possible.

Develop an incident response plan

Having a well-defined incident response plan in place ensures that you can act swiftly and efficiently in case of a network attack. The plan should outline the steps to be taken by different team members, helping minimize damage and downtime.

Stop network attacks before they happen

Organizations, both big and small, are under constant threat from network attacks whether that’s from a rogue insider or an overlooked vulnerable application. With Nile, you can rest assured knowing that your network availability, coverage and capacity are guaranteed. 

With built-in zero-trust security measures, Nile Access Service reduces chances of misconfiguration, eliminates manual steps for network security configuration and offloads key lifecycle management tasks, helping you to focus on what you do best. Let’s discuss how you can get started with a secure and streamlined network experience across your LAN. 


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