In the world of IT security, the term “servers hacked” is one of the most widely known terms. However, what is more unknown is just how often servers are hacked. While it is generally accepted that at least some attackers target servers regularly, there is a very large range of potential causes for server compromise. As such, the way companies fight off these attacks varies greatly.
One of the most common ways servers are compromised is through malware or a “rooting tool”. These are programs installed on the targeted system which then allow for remote code execution, or attackers can break into and steal confidential information. Of course, not all malware is harmful, but many of the most prolific malware authors today have been known to deploy these into their malware campaigns.
Another way that servers are hacked is through compromised websites. Some websites, such as those that trade in finance or credit card numbers, are particularly targeted by attackers. The most common way in which this occurs is through phishing attacks. These typically involve emails purporting to be sent from legitimate financial institutions, or websites that appear to be selling financial services. If the email message cannot be read by the recipient, or if the website is unreadable when opened, attackers then exploit the hole in a server by installing malware onto it.
A more common scenario that servers are hacked is through data breach. This is when hackers gain access to a company’s database, either by infiltrating it or by compromising a host. In the former instance, data breach usually results in data being stolen. In the latter instance, hackers use stolen customer data to make fraudulent transactions in a variety of ways.
Other ways in which servers are hacked are through “rooting” tools and cryptosystem vulnerabilities. A rootkit is a program which simulates a legitimate operating system but embeds itself into the operating system’s files and settings. By using a vulnerability in such a way that it can only be understood by the operating system it emulates, attackers can install their own software on infected machines. For instance, if an attacker gains access to a Linux server through compromised servers, they may install a rootkit which enables them to access any files on the machine, and to execute their own code.
To protect against this, companies running servers should run systems check each day. The check will identify any corrupt, damaged, or mis-connected files, as well as any insecure network connections. Security firms should contact the relevant vendors to assist them in repairing any damaged machines. After any suspected compromised system has been patched, security firms should advise their customers to disconnect from the affected servers.
In addition to stealing customer financial data, attackers may also infiltrate servers to locate outbound traffic and gather information on the company’s employees. If a server is hacked, malicious software may be installed on it, or data stolen from it. An example of a rootkit is Stuxnet, malware used against Cisco servers. By configuring Stuxnet to capture system information, it was able to locate any employee’s IP address. This enabled the attackers to remotely control the computers of the affected organizations.
Prevention is better than cure. Companies should do their utmost to prevent their networks from being compromised. Some measures include performing systems check each day, and installing up-to-date anti-malware and firewall applications. Companies that don’t have servers regularly scanned may be at risk of having their entire networks compromised by attackers who use remote servers.
In addition to protecting sensitive data from being stolen, companies need to be careful with confidential data. Hackers can obtain access to databases, including confidential customer lists, by infiltrating networks. They can use these data to make fraudulent charges, send spam, or even use the accounts for unauthorized purchases. A company’s confidential data can be used for illegal activities, such as conducting identity theft. Preventing hackers from getting into networks will ensure that data is safe.
Companies should also avoid compromising their servers’ security with too much internet security. For instance, installing too many security measures may hamper network activity. Also, servers that are always reaching the internet may pose a security threat. By not putting too much stress on servers and installing only those that are truly necessary, a company will reduce its exposure to risk.
Companies that keep their data in servers should consider physical security as well. The safety of the network can be assured through security guards, alarms, software, firewalls, and other technologies. These devices will help protect data from unauthorized users. Additionally, a company should take measure to protect its applications. Regular updates to applications and patches are essential to keeping systems up-to-date.