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Building a Secure and Intrusion-Proof Network for the Digital Society

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Cybersecurity has become one of the most demanding skills of this decade. Primarily because the increased technological advancement and accessibility have reduced the cost of cybercrime, increasing cyberattacks. Moreover, people have made themselves quite familiar with digital life. That means the stakes of cyber security have risen; Now, cybercriminals can get access to more data for the same effort. The popularity of IoT devices has also complicated the matter of security. All of these points show who is responsible for making sure the digital society has a safe network. In this article, you will see three concepts for building an intrusion-proof network: (i) an intrusion detection system, (ii) an intrusion prevention system, and (iii) zero trust security.

What is network intrusion?

Network intrusion means performing unauthorized tasks on a network, causing corruption, loss, and data theft. To create an intrusion-proof digital society, one must comprehensively understand how networks operate and how to monitor, detect, and respond to threats.

People can break into a network for many different reasons, such as stealing money, getting information, or doing activism. The last reason is hacktivism, a combination of hacking and activism. Stealing money is the second most common cause of hacking; the first is stealing information.

Companies must understand how network intrusion works to prevent damage to their company efficiently. Two methods for preventing network intrusion are the Network Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and the Network Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS). IDS aims to monitor and detect attacks passively, while NIPS actively monitors, notices, and blocks all malicious activity. 

Stakes of network intrusion

A network intrusion can result in significant damage to a company. For example, it can be costly and may reduce performance and ROI. Below, you can read about the losses that can happen as a result of network intrusions:

  • Illegal requests in extreme quantities may corrupt the organizational data, causing interruptions in the business processes.
  • Interruption in business processes results in reduced ROI. And the stakeholders may pull their funding. 
  • Hackers intruding on your network can access your confidential data and expose them to the public, making you lose your competitive advantage. 
  • Getting hacked decreases respect among the clients and partners, leading to reduced company share value. 

Types of threats that Intrusion Proof Networks must consider

Malicious hackers can use various methods to gain access to your network, including the following:

  • Buffer Overflow Attacks: Flooding lots of signals to your server cause the buffer to overflow, leading to network service disruption.
  • Common Gateway Interface Scripts: Malicious actors can deploy programs in a gateway that automatically perform maliciously upon receiving data with a particular signal.
  • Trojans: Malicious files can enter your network, posing as a legitimate application.
  • Worms: Some programs are self-replicating and do not need a host application. These are worms, and they can cause various disruptions, including degrading performance and stealing information.

Cyber attack types

You categorize network intrusion into the following groups:

  • Denial of Service (DoS): Blocks or restricts servers, making it impossible to access them.
  • Probing Attacks: Acquires information from the target
  • User-to-Root (U2R) attacks: Provides root access to a user
  • Remote-to-Local (R2L) attacks: Aims to control the remote computer of a user

Stages of Network Intrusion

To create an intrusion-proof network, you need to understand everything about the process. Read on to learn the Network Intrusion stages below:

  1. The first stage is reconnaissance. This step involves scanning and gathering information about the target and detecting vulnerabilities. Hackers use several tools for this step; understanding these tools may help you prevent a potential attack.
  2. The next stage is exploitation, where the attackers exploit the vulnerability and gain access to the network. So the hackers have already intruded in this step; however, they won’t act because exploitation might have triggered a response from the network’s defenses. And they want to remain hidden.
  3. The next stage is to elevate their access level and remain hidden from the monitoring tools. 
  4. After gaining elevated privileges, they can perform acts such as installing malicious tools to perform more damage to the network.
  5. These tools will allow intruders to move around the network without detecting and infecting more parts of the network.
  6. Hackers can then infect the entire network, control the processes, send information, delete files and perform other malicious acts.

Intrusion Detection Systems

Intrusion detection systems, which can be divided into signature-based and anomaly-based systems, are one part of networks that can’t be broken into. IDS uses machine learning techniques to try to find malware faster than a traditional firewall. 

Signature-based IDS

Signature-based IDS match the pattern of an attack. It tries to identify activities similar to a previous episode and creates an alert. An attack signature consists of the sequence of actions that take place. Hence, IDS alerts the cybersecurity experts if it sees specific processes being executed in succession and that exact pattern matches an entry in the signature database.

Anomaly Based Intrusion Detection System (AIDS)

One problem with the signature-based method is that it can’t find new patterns that aren’t normal. AIDS can solve that problem; AIDS tries to understand the network and finds irregularities instead of trying to identify a suspicious intrusion signature. So the system will learn what a normal state for your network is by using machine learning. And AIDS creates alerts when it sees any deviation from the usual pattern. So the primary difference between AIDS and SIDS is that AIDS tries to identify a departure from a signature pattern, while SIDS tries to identify one. AIDS can detect zero-day attacks because any attack introduces changes in the system’s state. And AIDS can notice it. 

Intrusion Prevention Systems

The Network Intrusion Prevention System, or NIPS, detects and blocks the attack; it constantly monitors the networks and uses various machine learning techniques to identify, disable, and eliminate threats. They are four types:

  1. Network-based IPS monitor the entire network
  2. Wireless IPS monitor the wireless networks
  3. Network Behaviour Analysis detects threats based on anomalies in the network behavior
  4. Host-Basedsed IPS monitor a single host.

IPS identifies the threats using three methods:

  • Signature-based detection aims to identify known attack signatures
  • The statistical anomaly-based system detects any deviation from the baseline activities of a network
  • Stateful Protocol Analysis detects threats by comparing events with profiles of benign activity.

Zero Trust Security

Even though IDS and NIPS can help create intrusion-proof networks, with advancements in hacking techniques, security becomes uncertain. Moreover, with the popularity of managed services, your company may need to grant access to a third-party organization. So Zero Trust Security aims to supplement NIPS and IDS by adding an extra layer of security in which no device or user can be trusted indefinitely. Validation of devices and users will have an expiry date; if someone intrudes on a network, they won’t have access to the resources for long.

Zero-trust security has the following characteristics:

  • Every device and user will have to revalidate themselves periodically.
  • Devices and users will only get privileges necessary for their function.
  • The network will have microzones, each with different security practices.
  • Zero Trust Network will prevent the movement of an intruder within the network as they would need to revalidate themselves for moving to a different part of the network.
  • All users will need another factor of authorization besides a password.

In conclusion, building an intrusion-proof digital security network requires great diligence in monitoring, detecting, and blocking security threats. Systems like intrusion prevention and detection backed by a zero-trust architecture are necessary for creating a secure digital network. Moreover, companies can now hire network design services to ensure that their network is intrusion-proof. 

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