Protecting Yourself Against Five Lesser-Known Security Threats

Protecting Yourself Against Five Lesser-Known Security Threats

It’d be nice if every single security threat that faced your organization was glaringly obvious – a massive botnet here, poorly-disguised malware there. Unfortunately, in the real world, things are often a bit subtler. And the threats you need to guard your enterprise data against aren’t all that clear.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably taken measures to protect things like mobile devices and desktop PCs. You’re aware of the importance of regularly-updated security software, and the need for a firewall and access controls. But you’re probably overlooking quite a few things too – and doing so could cause a breach.

Here are just a few security risks you might have forgotten about – have you addressed them all?

Local Administrators

Occasionally, your IT department might grant a user administrative privileges to troubleshoot an issue with their computer or device. And just as occasionally, the professional who granted those privileges might forget to rescind them. Suddenly, you’ve got a user with more privileges than they’re equipped to deal with – and if that user ends up compromised, you’re in trouble.

This is probably the easiest threat to address, thankfully – just set an admin troubleshooting profile that auto-expires after a short timeframe.

Wireless Keyboards, Printers, and Photocopiers

Are your keyboards vulnerable to attack? Are your printers, photocopiers, and other connected devices secure? These are questions you need to be asking yourself, because like it or not, any connected device, whether it uses WiFi or Bluetooth (and especially if it uses Bluetooth), represents another attack surface.

Moving forward, you need to be more cognizant of the vulnerabilities in every connected device you purchase – check the manufacturer’s website for security patches, do a bit of research to find out if anyone’s hacked it, and check if there are any better, more secure alternatives.

Weak WiFi Security

It’s an easy enough mistake to make – when configuring your company router, you set it to use a consumer level of security, rather than configuring Protected EAP. If an attacker figures out your WiFi password, they suddenly have access to your network and every user on it. Plus, it opens the door for disgruntled former employees (which we’ll discuss in a moment) to mess with your network.

Enterprise-level WiFi security equips each user with their own username and password, and allows you a great deal more control over what each user can see, do, and access.

Company Insiders

When turning a suspicious eye outward, it’s all too easy to forget that the greatest threats may well come from within. People within your own organization can actually be the most considerable security risk on your plate, like it or not. According to Tripwire, these malicious individuals come in one of three flavors:

 

  • Compromised users work together with a third party to undermine your security – they might not necessarily even mean to inflict harm, but they often do. People who fall for phishing scams can be placed under this category.  
  • “Slighted” staff are often former employees who’ve retained their access credentials. Bitter at their lot, their main interest is to steal information or just wreak havoc. They might do this through a piece of malware left on your servers, a kill-switch they activate upon being fired, or simply by logging in and deleting everything they can.
  • Tech-savvy insiders are familiar with your systems and their flaws, and exploit them for financial gain. They can often be the most dangerous, as their motive isn’t generally to cause problems – it’s to benefit. They need to be sneaky, as a result (and they often are, to a fault).

 

Dealing with these insiders can be a challenge, but in broad terms, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Be sparing with permissions and user privileges. An insider can’t damage resources they can’t access.
  • When firing or laying off an employee, rescind their access privileges immediately. Don’t give them a chance to mess with your systems.
  • Educate your employees on common social engineering tactics used by attackers, to help them better recognize when they’re being manipulated. Also instruct them on mobile security best practices.
  • Avoid shared passwords, and keep a close watch on employee activity.

Your Own Oversights

Last but not least…you’re a security risk, too. However adept you may be at protecting your enterprise, you’re only human. You’ve got your own foibles and shortcomings. And in spite of all your knowledge and knowhow, you can fall prey to negligence, as well – all it takes is a single mistake to compromise an entire system, after all.

Never assume that just because you’ve got technical knowledge and expertise, you’re exempt from making mistakes.

Human error is the root cause of most data breaches, after all. And in many cases, it’s caused by negligence on the part of the IT department. Bear that in mind, exercise due diligence when designing and developing your infrastructure, and make sure you’ve a list of security best practices that you follow to the letter – no exceptions.

Closing Thoughts

Not every security threat facing your organization is clear as day. In many cases, risks and challenges are actually quite subtle. Learn to recognize them before they become a problem, and your organization will be more secure for it. And if you’ve any threats or risks you think we’ve missed, give us a shout in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.

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