How Criminals Exploit Outdated Firewalls

The rapid shift to remote work brought many challenges, many of them security-related. Outdated firewalls have been a particularly vulnerable situation, with attackers hacking them to gain access to critical systems and networks. If your organization’s network uses an outdated firewall, it’s time to put updated, proper protections in place.

For most organizations, the driving force behind their digital transformation was the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies that once proclaimed remote work and cloud technologies were not right for them suddenly found themselves forced to adopt both. By April 2020, nearly half of American workers were performing their jobs from home. It seems likely many will continue to do so at least part of the time once the pandemic has subsided. Now there is a need to make improvements in response to the changes.

How Cyber Criminals Exploit Vulnerabilities

If your network has one or more vulnerabilities, it’s safe to assume cyber criminals will find and exploit them. Emerging threats include:

  • Contemporary versions of old cyber threats such as ransomware, phishing, and botnets. Newer versions of these attacks are automated and tailored to mine data from company websites and social networks.
  • Fileless attacks, aka “living off the land,” attacks exploit existing tools and features, allowing them able to fly under the radar of many detection and prevention solutions.
  • Cloud and remote service attacks take advantage of many organizations’ lack of in-house IT experts with the proper training and tools to configure security solutions correctly.
  • Business process compromises where cyber criminals take advantage of systemic operational weaknesses such as siphoning funds by compromising automated invoicing tools.

The scary truth is cyber criminals can learn a lot about your organization’s network from your website, social media accounts, and by compromising individual network systems. They can then easily exploit the vulnerabilities they find to compromise your network, steal data, and install spyware. Vulnerabilities can include:

  • Unintended flaws in software programs or operating systems.
  • Improper computer or security configurations.
  • Programming errors.

Cyber attacks are an ongoing nightmare for most businesses. Fortunately, there are best practices you can employ to identify vulnerabilities and reduce your risk of exploitation.

How to Reduce Cyberattack Vulnerabilities

Can cyber criminals hack firewalls? Yes, many can and do, using sophisticated tools and techniques to bypass them entirely to achieve their objectives. That makes it critical to replace outdated firewalls with new, more secure ones.

Regularly updating your network’s firewall is also necessary to protect valuable data. Updates cover things like removing outdated features, bug fixes, and fixing security holes. It’s also important to put in place a proactive security program that teaches employees how to follow safe and effective online security habits.

As cyber criminals continue to improve their attack strategies and technologies, your organization must adjust its approach to cybersecurity and data protection. Updating your network’s firewall is a good start, but maximum network security requires integrated solutions that automate system monitoring, vulnerability assessments, and user protection needed to stop cyber criminals dead in their tracks. An IT audit and security assessment by an experienced IT managed services provider can be the perfect starting point for discovering just how protected your organization’s network truly is.

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