What are Network Security Attacks?

You may have heard of the concept of ‘hacking’ in some shape or form in the past years. There has been a significant rise in digital attacks on companies and organizations recently for political causes or profiteering. The hacks, as stated in popular publications, are namely called ‘network security attacks.’

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Increased dependence on technology and reliance on networks for our daily lives opens up new avenues for attackers. One of the most effective methods to preventing disruption in your organization is understanding network security attacks. This article will highlight the definitions, key factors, and solutions to preventing them.

Defining a Network Security Attack

A network security attack is an unauthorized attempt to gain access to private data. It is usually stored within the computing infrastructure of an organization. The action involves practices to steal, change or destroy significant digital assets. Motives behind network security attacks tend to vary between profiting from data and disrupting organizational operations.

Network security attacks can be split into two categories – passive and active. Passive attacks involve the practice of breaching networks to steal or monitor data without leaving any footprints of intrusion. Active attacks take the opposite approach of intentionally damaging, destroying, or altering assets stored within the network.

Society’s current transformation into a more digitally-based workplace sees more network security attacks. Many hackers make a full-time operation of the process considering the profits it yields. The disruptive potential of a network attack underlines why network security is particularly essential – and will be more in the future.

Why is Network Security So Important?

Network security has been an integral part of IT infrastructure for decades. It is becoming more essential today, considering more sensitive data is migrated onto organizational networks. The increase of remote working has also led to more network vulnerabilities – holes hackers and interlopers seek to exploit.

Network security is the protective measure between efficiency and disarray. Businesses rely on networks for communication and storage of significant assets – any interruptions could seriously harm a company’s prospects for survival. It’s now imperative to have network security that’s up-to-date on potential threats. Current information is most effective at deterring them.

What Happens in a Network Security Attack?

There are many methods by which a hacker will attempt a network security attack. They can be generalized into passive and active attacks – both with their distinct processes. We can define how both categories of attacks come to fruition below.

Passive Attack

Passive attacks occur when a hacker observes, monitors, or intercepts data being transmitted from one to another. The attacker will use the information gathered to their advantage without disrupting any of the network systems. The hackers frequently gain access to the communication channels through unsecured network devices.

Active Attack

Active attacks have a lot more malicious intent from the hacker. These intrusions will attempt to change or destroy the assets accessed or intercepted. Although they can be identified quickly, the damage that these attacks cause may cause organizations significant grief. Active attacks also occur when devices are unsecured or have weak protective measures in place.

7 of the Most Common Network Security Attacks

The attacks can loosely be defined into two categories, but explaining the details help understanding network security attacks. There has been a significant increase in network security attacks over the past few years due to the rise in hacktivism and the opportunities of exposed organizational weakness from onboarding more devices. We define 7 of the most recent common network security attacks below:

1. Man-in-the-Middle Attack

A man-in-the-middle attack is when an interloper places themselves in the center of communications between one entity and another – namely, a client and a server. This passive attack sets up to make the client look like it’s harmlessly communicating sensitive information to the network. In reality, the attacker is siphoning any data that can be used for their objectives.

2. SQL Injection

Any website or network that uses a lot of data is subject to an SQL injection attack. Most networks will use the SQL language to manage their databases with commands that modify, delete, or upload new data fields. Hackers can use any unprotected aspect of a website to write their own SQL commands – with the potential to delete or retrieve sensitive data permanently.

3. Eavesdropping Attack

Eavesdropping attacks are another passive attack where a hacker will intercept network traffic and listen to any messages. This is a well-observed attack in e-commerce and retail – where attackers will intercept data being exchanged during purchases. Credit cards and personal information are the main assets that become vulnerable.

4. Phishing Attack

Phishing is a network security attack that has been around for a long time – one of the most tried and tested methods of a breach. The process involves an attacker sending an email that looks like it’s from a trusted source. It will request a recipient to input sensitive information to solve a ‘crisis,’ only for the attacker to obtain and exploit that data.

5. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack

One of the most prominent active attacks strives to disrupt a network’s functions by overwhelming them. The purpose of the DDoS attack is to cause damage and disruption to a system’s resources by firing off a series of access requests that the network can’t handle.

6. Malware Attack

Malware is a type of software that is created to disrupt, siphon or destroy essential network resources. In a malware attack, a hacker will gain access to an organization’s network and scour infrastructure. It will then plant the malicious software within the system. It has the potential to copy itself across many connected nodes – overwhelming the entire network.

7. Password Attack

Password attacks are the easiest and one of the most common network security attacks. Hackers will ‘sniff’ out passwords by entering networks and searching for sensitive information such as passwords stored there. They can even be obtained by searching physical assets such as desks or drawers.

Other Network Security Attacks

While these are the most traditional methods of attack – it is worth noting that there are plenty more styles of intrusion. Some may be unfounded to an unsuspecting network. Social engineering is a developing concept where attackers will create trusted personas to gain authorization to networks. Ransomware is another where hackers gain access and encrypt essential data in exchange for profit.

The near-endless methodologies conjured by attackers do not mean they can’t be prevented, though. There are ways to stay ahead of any potential digital threat.

What Can I Do to Prevent Network Security Attacks?

The varied and evolving network security attacks make it impossible for an organization to be completely protected against intrusion. However, there are some measures you can take to maximize defense against hackers and interlopers. Most companies will use traditional solutions such as firewalls and detection systems.

The sophistication of attackers in the modern-day will need more effective measures, though. A well-rounded organizational collaboration to network security is almost exclusively the best option for prevention. It further recommends resulting action on network security attacks. This approach would include:

  • Training staff and arming them with knowledge about network security attacks
  • Ensuring network security software is consistently aligned with past, current, and future threats
  • Backing up network data regularly
  • Make sure access to networks is meticulously controlled
  • Stricter authorization measures such as personal biometrics
  • Employing a dedicated network security company to monitor and manage attacks

Other methods of preventing network security attacks involve penetration testing and vulnerability audits. Either internal or external entities can test the integrity of your network by replicating an assigned attack method. The resulting reports can provide invaluable data on how to improve protection against network security attacks.

Understanding Network Security Attacks Better

Network security is always a process that needs to keep building rather than finalizing a solution. The evolution and changing of the internet are consistently facilitating new styles of network security attacks. Staying on top of the last practices and trends in malicious intent is essential to a better network environment – and understanding network security attacks.

Using the concept of passive and active attacks as a foundation – you can further understand the attack potential by network reviews. You can understand what areas of infrastructure are exposed to attacks, subtly placing themselves to intercept the information. Also, you will comprehend the network aspects that may crumble if actively attacked.


As sure as the sun will rise – network security attacks will always be a threat. The growing reliance on technology, expanding use of organizational networks, and an increasing number of devices. These all present more opportunities for hackers. You can rely on the fact that attacks will always seek to leverage any weakness or loopholes for their advantage.

No organization is safe from attack – but understanding what are network security attacks assist in minimizing any damage or disruption. There are always companies dedicated to preventing network security attacks available should your organization need significant protection. Better stay secure than sorry!

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