Various ways to detect malicious activities in a network
Businesses are not reacting promptly to malicious activities. Technology is constantly and rapidly evolving and expanding the attack surface in multiple ways. At the same time, cybercriminals are adapting advanced courses and escalating the threat landscape. They are adopting sophisticated ways to attack, and the struggle to deal with the changes is real. Malicious or unauthorized activities occurring inside your network are causing damage without even you knowing that. How can you detect those malicious network activities inside your network as quickly as possible and respond efficiently to avoid or reduce the potential damage?
There are a variety of network protection tools available for this purpose. Some are enhancements or evolutions of others, and some are mainly focused on certain types of malicious activities. However, all network intrusion detection systems are intended to detect malicious or suspicious activities on your network and enable you to act promptly against them. This article will discuss these tools to see malicious activities on your network. But before that, let’s discuss the malicious activities.
What is a malicious activity?
Malicious activity is an unauthorized breach of network traffic or processes on any connected device or system. Malicious threat actors perform these suspicious activities using various attack vectors and looking for financial gain. These actors differ widely in attack techniques, sophistication, and whether they are linked to a cybercriminal group or not. There are multiple types of malicious software, and cybercriminals use many of them. Therefore, it is essential to find out how to detect malicious activities on various platforms for different uses. Evidence of what an antagonistic activity on a network can do is everywhere.
For all organizations connected to the Internet, using it to store a company’s data or communicate with the employees, it is necessary to understand what a malicious activity can do. As digital transformation is in full rage, cybercriminals know how to use this digital shift to mold and escalate the threat landscape they create.
Malicious activities can come in various forms, particularly from an organizational point of view. It includes
- Network anomalies
- Strange network behavior
- Problem with the network traffic flow
- System downtime
- Vulnerabilities exploitation in the system
- Data breach and compromised system
- DDoS (Denial of service) attacks
There are several tools and best practices to avoid malicious activities. Let’s discuss some of them.
Network Security Tools
Here is a list of tools you can use to detect malicious activities in a network.
1. Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
An Intrusion Detection System analyzes activities on a network and vulnerabilities in a system to search for patterns and reasons for known threats. Here are two main types of IDS, Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS) protects an individual host system, and Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) monitors an entire subnet at a network level. IDS raises flags for malicious or suspicious activities or any intrusion detected and sends notifications to the IT team. It does not take action to prevent or avoid that activity.
2. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is an evolution of IDS. The capabilities and functions of an IPS are similar to an IDS. However, there is a difference that an IPS can take action to prevent or avoid malicious or suspicious activities. IP can also be referred to as an Intrusion Detection Prevention System (IDPS).
3. Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM)
A Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) tool are designed to help companies manage the massive volume of data and signals and tie up threat information for a centralized view of IT infrastructure. SIEM comes in various sizes and shapes, but it is promising to monitor, analyze, and record network activities to detect potential security events or incidents in real-time and send alerts to IT teams. So they can take appropriate actions.
4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Data protection is the most important thing for most organizations. It is the primary target of most cyberattacks, whether sensitive data of employees or customers, bank or credit card information, corporate data, or confidential intellectual property. Data loss prevention, also referred to as Data Leak Prevention or Data Loss Protection protects data and ensures that personal or sensitive data is secured and not exposed or compromised. DLP often enforces data handling policies based on how information is classified. In most cases, it can automatically detect things like Social Security numbers or credit card numbers depending on the data format to alert the IT team and avoid unauthorized disclosure.
5. Network Behavior Anomaly Detection (NBAD)
A simple way to identify suspicious or malicious activities is to detect a move out of the ordinary. NBAD, also termed as network detective establishes a baseline of normal activities on a network and gives real-time monitoring of activities and traffic to see unusual events, trends, or activities. Anomaly detection can identify emerging threats, such as zero-day attacks, because it looks for unusual activity instead of relying on indicators of compromise of specific threats.
Best practices to prevent malicious activities in a network
Apart from these tools, you can follow these best practices to avoid malicious network activity.
- Identify malicious emails_ Malicious actors use phishing emails to access sensitive data. It’s a growing trend in cyberspace, and employees should practice safe email protocol and must be careful while clicking on the links from unknown resources. It’s also important to have network security protection in place.
- Report a slower-than-normal network_ A malware outbreak or hacking attempt often results in a slower network. Employees should quickly inform the IT security department when they face slower than typical network speed.
- Identify suspicious pop-ups_ Increased security in a business environment means safe web browsing. Employees should not click on the pop-up windows appearing on the websites. Unknown pop-ups can be infected with spyware or malware that compromise a network.
- Note abnormal password activity_ If an employee is locked out of their system and gets an email saying that a password has been changed, it can signify that the password is compromised. The best practice is to ensure that all employees use strong and unique passwords for all accounts and update the network every six months.
The threat of a cyberattack on your organization is real. Protecting your business network comes down to ensuring that security controls exist across the organization. The security tools and best practices mentioned in the article are simple and allow organizations to focus on their core business activities. It lets them take advantage of a modern world of digital business opportunities. Adequately configured network security tools are helpful for monitoring and analyzing overwhelming network traffic in a rapidly changing, dynamic environment and detecting potentially malicious activities.
Malicious activities can often go undetected in a network because they are disguised as regular traffic. By properly configuring your security tools, you can monitor and analyze network traffic to detect any activities that may be malicious. Protected Harbor provides 360-degree security protection from most threats and malicious activities. Our expert tech team is a step ahead of phishing and malware attacks with a proactive approach. Partner with us today and be secured from malicious activities.