How Do Bad Guys Break Into Corporate Computer Networks?

19 November 2020
 Categories: Technology, Blog


For most folks outside of the cybersecurity services field, it can be hard to imagine how someone breaks into a network. There are, however, a handful of relatively easy-to-understand ways that malicious parties will attempt to get into an organization's systems. Let's look at four of the most common attack vectors.

Probing for Open Ports

A port is a communication channel that a computer system uses to talk with other devices. For example, unsecured web page traffic sent from a server is usually transmitted through port 80. There are individual ports for all kinds of services, from file transfers to emails.

One of the simplest tactics is to probe for open ports that might allow an attacker to access certain services. Using automated systems, a hacker will send requests to different ports that might offer opportunities. When they get a response, these systems will either log that something is there or try to communicate with the other computer.

Even if this doesn't yield fruit, it still gives a hostile party a map of where they might attack later. For this reason, network security services professionals typically shut down all ports unless they're absolutely needed for communicating with others.

Studying Bug Reports and Security News

Tons of data are published every day about bugs and unsecured systems. Bad guys often study this information to learn about potential vulnerabilities. They can then use the maps of their targets to decide which available services might be worth attacking.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Sometimes it's easier to attack a target by staying away from the main infrastructure. A hostile actor might elect to set up fake Wi-Fi networks, for example, to hit your employees when they're out and about. When someone uses these systems to browser the web or check emails, the in-between component will add a bit of malicious code. This code can then activate once it's on the inside of your operation to open ports, assign administrative privileges, and execute code.

Injecting Data

Especially when you have ports for necessary services, injecting data becomes a viable approach. An injection attack uses one of two methods. The first involves flooding the target with garbage data in the hope that the network security services crash.

The second method is to try to nest commands within seemingly legitimate requests. For example, a hacker might submit a message through a company's contact page. When the server records the message to a database, the commands will execute. This can lead to everything, from deleted data entries to elevated administrative privileges.

If you're worried that your company might be vulnerable to attack, consider hiring a network security service.