Working from home has become our new normal, with many of our jobs being performed remotely. The experience of working remotely can be as seamless as it was from our workplace, with all the technological advancements available today. Businesses have also put network security on the forefront by implementing use of virtual private networks (VPNs). This enables users to securely access confidential information hosted on the organizations’ servers. But even with the use of VPNs, as well as firewall rules deftly configured to make network security airtight, there is still a risk of malicious remote user attacks.

Network devices that run on vulnerable firmware are the most common channel for cyberattacks. There have been several cases reported recently where firewalls running on vulnerable firmware have been exploited by attackers for data and identity theft. More frightening is that attackers can accomplish even more when they exploit the firmware vulnerabilities on your network.

 Here are five common risks involving vulnerable devices in your network:

1. Not staying current with vulnerability assessments

While vulnerabilities that arise from network devices that are not configured correctly could wreak havoc, firmware vulnerabilities pose a bigger threat. Let’s say a major firewall device vendor has reported a firmware vulnerability. The vendor needs time to release upgrades or patches but, in the meanwhile, attackers who follow news of the vulnerability could attempt to break into your network.

The worst part is that exploit codes for vulnerabilities are also made available on the internet. Some of them are made available for free and some for thousands of dollars by bad actors. Irrespective of how much these cost, the threat they pose for businesses is huge. The number of potential attacks grows exponentially. If you’re not proactively monitoring forums that announce your firewall vendor’s vulnerabilities, then attacks on your network could cause damage before you are even aware of a threat.

2. Data theft

Most firmware hacks result in data theft. Once attackers penetrate your firewall, the network’s outer line of defense, it’s only be a matter of time before they start accessing your servers. Your business’ confidential data will then be at high risk.

Data theft can lead to several other crimes as well. For example, a healthcare network data theft could lead to crimes like identity theft and insurance frauds.

3. Ransomware

Another threat stemming from vulnerable firmware is rogue users that launch ransomware attacks on your devices. Instead of stealing your data, attackers encrypt it and make it inaccessible to everyone. Businesses are forced to pay a ransom to the hackers to make their data available to them again.

If ransomware is injected into your email servers, or other sensitive systems that contain confidential information, it could mean big trouble. Imagine an attack like this inflicted on financial institutions. It could leave thousands of people unable to make monetary transactions, and might impact the economy if accomplished on a large scale.

4. IoT devices hijacking

With the expanded adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices for personal and commercial use, the risks of attacks also increase. Hackers can take over your devices and its functions, exploiting them in many nefarious ways.

Your personal IoT devices can turn out to be bugs you innocently planted in your own home. Attackers can use them to spy on your conversations, and the obtained information can be used to coerce you into paying them a ransom. Industries have also been using IoT to automate production processes and gain quicker insights. But if these devices are hijacked, it can lead to a theft of data, or reputation and goodwill for your brand and organization.

5. Network outages

Attackers, after exploiting firmware vulnerabilities in your network devices, can start controlling how the devices behave. They can also bring down your network communications by repeatedly rebooting devices.

Network outages cause problems within the organizations like disrupting business continuity. For online businesses, this could mean loss of revenue and reputation. But they can prevent this from happening by utilizing a solution that continuously runs vulnerability scans on their network devices and keeps their devices updated with the latest firmware.

Network Configuration Manager, a network change, configuration. and compliance management solution from ManageEngine, can help you easily identify devices running on vulnerable firmware versions. It also gives you information on how severely the vulnerability can affect your network. The automatic synchronization with the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) database ensures your network’s vulnerability assessments incorporate the latest information available.

 Download your 30-day free trial and start managing your network device firmware efficiently.

Apart from configuration management, ITOM also has solutions to streamline network monitoringserver monitoringapplication monitoringbandwidth monitoringfirewall security and compliance, IP address management and switch port management. Truly, this makes ITOM solutions an ideal choice for over 1 million IT admins, worldwide.

Arjun Premkumar
Product Marketer