A data breach can be catastrophic for any organization. One way to help curb potential exploits is to understand potential attack vectors. In this post, we'll cover what an attack vector is, the most common ones you should be aware of, and key ways to reduce the ability of attackers to exploit system vulnerabilities.

What is an attack vector?

An attack vector is an opportunity for an attacker to gain access to an information system (IS) or damage its operation. An attack vector is defined by a set of conditions that allow an attacker to carry out an attack. For example, an attack vector can be defined as a set of actions that an attacker can perform to gain access to an IP, such as exploiting software vulnerabilities, social engineering, phishing, etc.

What are examples of common attack vectors?

Some of the most common attack vectors include

  1. Weak passwords or damaged biometric security
  2. Attacks through a virus that creates its own attack vectors
  3. Incorrect or broken data encryption on your device(s)
  4. Visiting questionable sites or the darknet
  5. Software vulnerabilities in the operating system
  6. Alienated or disgruntled employees who may have access to corporate security systems
  7. Using improperly optimized and weak devices
  8. Using hacked versions of applications or torrents
  9. Installing jailbreak/root on mobile devices
  10. DDoS attacks: such attacks typically flood the target's inbox with spam and inappropriate emails, rendering their devices unusable, as well as causing network outages that can impact the target's performance at work or in daily life.
  11. Phishing: This is a social engineering attack that involves sending emails or text messages that appear to come from a legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company. Emails or text messages often contain a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, installs malware on the victim's computer.
  12. Malware: it is software designed to harm a computer system. Malware can be installed on your computer in a variety of ways, including clicking on a malicious link, opening a malicious attachment, or downloading a file from an untrusted source. Once malware is installed on a computer, it can steal data, corrupt files, or disrupt operations.
  13. Zero-day attacks: these are attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in software that the software vendor is unaware of. Zero-day attacks are often very difficult to defend against because there is no patch available to address the vulnerability.
  14. Denial of service (DoS) attacks: These attacks aim to overload a computer system with traffic, making it inaccessible to legitimate users. DoS attacks can be carried out by sending large amounts of data to a server or by flooding the network with requests.
  15. Insider threats: These are attacks that are carried out by someone who has authorized access to a computer system. Insider threats can be caused by malice, negligence, or accidental disclosure of confidential information.

These are just a few examples of common attack vectors. There are many other ways that cybercriminals can try to gain access to a computer system or network. It is important to be aware of these attack vectors and take steps to protect your systems from attack.

Here are some tips to protect your systems from attacks:

Keep your software up to date. Software vendors often release patches to address vulnerabilities in their software. By keeping your software up to date, you can help protect yourself from zero-day attacks.

Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Passwords must be at least 12 characters in length and include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Be careful what links you click and what attachments you open. If you are unsure whether a link or attachment is legitimate, do not click or open it.

Use a firewall and antivirus software. A firewall can help protect your computer from unauthorized access, and antivirus software can help detect and remove malware.

Be alert to social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks are designed to trick you into giving up sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link. Be careful about the information you share online and be suspicious of emails or text messages that seem too good to be true.

By following these tips, you can help protect your systems from attacks.

Best practices to reduce risk from attack vectors

  • Monitor and manage your endpoints . If you don't control the systems people use, the effect will be like blindfolding yourself. The best way to anticipate and avoid an attack is to know what's happening on all the devices in your environment, and then configure those devices for limited functionality. This means reducing the risk of something exploiting an application or operating system feature.
  • Limit administrator rights whenever possible . Do your users really need full administrator rights on their company-issued devices? Of course, it's nice that they don't have to escalate privileges, but the downside is that they can easily install their own programs.
  • Constantly re-evaluate permissions — instead of rare one-time monitoring, monitor changes in permissions. Your goal is to monitor frequently so that if you discover a vulnerability, you can minimize the damage from it. It's better than stumbling upon it and hoping it's long gone. If you don't brush your teeth for a couple of months, you'll pay for it, and the same is true for monitoring.
  • Monitoring suspicious behavior . Let's assume that a new network service account has appeared in the last few days. IT didn't create it. Why was it created? Who needed it? For what? It could be completely benign, but it could also be something malignant. The same applies to unexpected hardware devices. Make sure you can explain every new development on your network.
  • Back up your data regularly and securely . In the event of a failure or natural disaster, you can restore data from backups and resume operations. But if your production machines are attacked by ransomware, there is a chance that your backups will also be infected, in which case restoring will not solve your problem. Instead, create a backup on a system with a different authentication scheme than your production environment. This way, if attackers steal a domain administrator account on your product's network, they can't use it to attack your backups.
  • Coordination with the organization . While spending money on security is a no-brainer, figuring out how much money to spend on security isn't. Network security competes for budget just like operations, marketing, sales, research and development, and all other company functions. To keep the tail from wagging the dog, it's important to align your security budget with all your other budgets. “Risk mitigation” could mean investing in protection against one attack vector this quarter and another the next.
  • Train employees on security issues . No organization can afford to ignore the human element inherent in almost every attack vector. This is why it is important to inform and remind all online users of the ramifications and consequences of their actions. You reap the benefits of good training every time an employee pauses before opening an attachment or clicking an unrecognized link.


You may not have control over the next attack vector the attacker will use, but you do have control over protecting your organization from it. As important as it is to understand attack vectors, it is much more important to understand endpoint security issues and install and maintain strong endpoint security. Learn more about endpoint protection find out in this article.

It's always a good idea to turn to flexible endpoint management software that can help you discover, manage, and protect your devices using traditional and modern methods.

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