Laptop computers and other mobile devices are the most common tools used by workers to access business networks. Due to the increase in remote working over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in the number of workers using laptop computers to do their jobs. However, of the various components that comprise a business network infrastructure, laptop computers are the most vulnerable in terms of network security. Knowing this, rather than attacking business networks directly, cybercriminals are increasingly turning to laptop theft and other techniques to compromise end-user devices. Once compromised, the devices are then used by the cybercriminals to gain entry into the business network to steal or corrupt confidential and proprietary information. On average, affected businesses lose about $3.6 million due to data breaches caused by malware-infected end-user devices. The impacted businesses may also incur additional legal consequences as well as the loss of customer trust confidence after a data breach.
Given that over 37 percent of workers use their laptop computers to store confidential and mission-critical data, endpoint security is an essential component of an effective network security strategy. It is important to engage the services of highly security specialists like Cyber Sainik to do an endpoint security analysis, looking for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals. After the assessment, the specialists then develop security solutions to ensure that laptop computers and other endpoint devices are fully protected. Discussed in more detail below are some laptop computer vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals, as well as some of the exploitative techniques that are commonly used.
COMMON LAPTOP COMPUTERS AND END USER DEVICE VULNERABILITIES
1) Weak/insecure user passwords: The primary means by which cybercriminals successfully gain access to laptop computers is by compromising user passwords. User passwords are the first line of defense for laptop devices and business networks and should, therefore, be kept very well protected. Weak passwords, passwords shared across multiple devices, or passwords that are left out in the open, make it easy for cybercriminals to break into a laptop and, thereby, access the business network. All employees within a business should establish good password habits to minimize the risk of their device being compromised. Examples of good password habits that should be adopted include:
- Passwords should have a mix of upper- and lower-case characters and include special characters and numbers
- Passwords should not contain personal information such as children names, birth dates, or other easily identifiable information
- The same password should not be used across multiple sites or devices. Each device or site should have its unique password
- Passwords should not be left out in the open on sticky notes or note pads where they are readily visible
- Passwords should be changed or updated at frequent regular intervals.
2) Lack of encryption: Another reason why cybercriminals target laptop computers rather than business networks is business most users do not encrypt their data. As a result, once a laptop has been compromised, cybercriminals can easily retrieve and use the data for their illegal purposes. With device encryption, the data is encoded in such a manner that renders it incomprehensible when accessed by unauthorized users. Users who have legitimate access to the data have decryption keys that decrypt the data on their devices. All end-user devices within a network should be decrypted to minimize the risk of data theft. This is especially important if the laptop contains sensitive or mission-critical information.
3) Outdated software: Hardware and software vendors continuously enhance and improve their products due to advances in technology. All users should ensure that their laptop computers are up to date with the latest release versions or packages. The laptops should be updated as soon as possible following the release of the most recent version. Failing to update laptops promptly, or not updating at all, increases their likelihood of being compromised by cybercriminals.
4) Lack of security updates: Security solutions such as antivirus and anti-malware are extremely important in protecting laptops and other end-user devices from attacks by cybercriminals. Given the evolving nature of viruses and malware, these security solutions should be kept constantly up to date. If security updates are not maintained, the laptop devices may become susceptible to viruses as well as malware threats.
TYPES OF NETWORK ATTACKS
There are a variety of techniques that cybercriminals use to compromise laptop computers and gain access to a business network. Some of the most common techniques used include:
1) Insider Threats: With insider threats, the attack comes from inside the business. The cybercriminal is typically an employee or an individual with legitimate access to the network. Using legitimate account credentials, the user infiltrates the network and steals confidential or proprietary information. This type of attack is one of the most challenging for businesses to guard against.
2) Malware attacks: Malware is bits of malicious code introduced into a network by cybercriminals for illegal purposes. Malware can be introduced into a network through several means such as phishing or Trojan horses, among others. Once introduced, the malware can then be used to steal or corrupt data within the network.
3) Password attacks: Password attacks are one of the most popular strategies used by cybercriminals. Cybercriminals use different methods such as social engineering, brute force, or keylogging to ascertain user passwords. Passwords that are weak or not properly maintained are especially susceptible to password attacks.
4) Data theft: With data theft, cybercriminals use different strategies to gain access to confidential and proprietary information within a network. The data is then transferred out of the network to an external location, a process known as exfiltration, where it is then used for illegal and malicious purposes.
At Cyber Sainik, we know how integral endpoint security is to a comprehensive network security strategy. That is why we provide laptop security to ensure that cybercriminals can not gain access to sensitive information and data within your network. With our laptop security service, we offer round-the-clock security on your devices to ensure that they are secure. We have rules in place to automatically detect network attacks and provide an immediate response. In addition, each of your devices can be uniquely customized to suit the needs of the users. Contact us for more information.