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Blog Post: Top Cybersecurity Access Attack Vectors and How to Prevent Them

5 minutes read

As cyber threats continue to grow, the different techniques cyber attackers utilise advance and improve in order to gain initial access to networks, which ultimately leads to disastrous and costly consequences for your organisation.

Did you know that 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of cyber-attack?

Cybercriminals use advanced, automated scanning tools that will search across the internet to seek out any kind of vulnerability that can be exploited, if you are connected to the internet, it is likely that you will, or have been targeted. Once inside your network, cybercriminals will infect your systems with malicious code (malware), allowing them take control of your systems, and gain access to your company data. Attackers can have many motives, including the intention to corrupt your systems, disrupt your business, disable your access, or to exfiltrate and sell your data.

But what are the top cybersecurity access attack vectors that we’re seeing more commonly used today with cyber-attacks?

Not Applying Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Having a traditional single-factor authentication that requires users to provide only one verification factor, e.g., a password, is no longer enough. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) systems requires two or more factors for verification to enable the user to access the account. Providing an extra barrier of security, makes it far more difficult for attackers to get through gain access.

Microsoft has previously stated that utilising multi-factor authentication can prevent 99.9% of attacks on your accounts.

Weak Passwords

Having a weak password continues to play a major role in many cyber-attacks. Hackers can perform “ password spraying” which is the process in which they use a software utility or “bot”, to automatically attempt to log into multiple user accounts in parallel using weak or common passwords.. This attack can evade account lockout policies by only testing a few passwords on each account in a given period of time. Organisations that do not force the use of complex passwords and do not have strong password policies implemented, are at a greater risk of becoming breached.

Verizon reported that weak passwords make up 80% of company data breaches.

Reused Passwords

Having the same password on multiple services provides an opportunity for hackers to perform “credential stuffing”. If a service such as a website is compromised and a data breech occurs, hackers can use the database of usernames and their corresponding passwords to perform a targeted attack on user accounts in the corporate network and other websites. Organisations that do not encourage the use of unique passwords through training and by utilising a password manager are at greater risk.

A useful site for checking if your email address has appeared in a known data breach is

Unprotected or Misconfigured Cloud Services

There has been a substantial increase in the use of cloud services, offering attackers an additional avenue for exploitation. With hybrid working, businesses are reliant on cloud services such as Microsoft O365. But poor configurations and weak security on cloud services can leave your systems susceptible to cyber-attacks.

In Zscaler’s 2021 “Exposed” report, where the attack surface of 1,500 organisations was analysed, hundreds of thousands of vulnerabilities were discovered, including 392,298 exposed servers, 214,230 exposed ports and 60,572 exposed cloud instances, all of which can be discovered over the internet.

Unpatched Systems

Exploiting unpatched system vulnerabilities continues to be one of the top ways for cybercriminals to gain unauthorised access. With security gaps and vulnerabilities being identified in software and applications daily, unpatched systems are considerably more vulnerable and much more accessible to hackers than those that regularly patch their devices. Technology vendors are endlessly working to fix underlying issues within their systems to ensure their users are provided with updated and secure systems, however for many organisations that do not have the resources available to proactively identify, prioritise, and patch their systems, it can be a time consuming and often overlooked process.

Keeping your systems and applications updated is a critical process for your network security. Having unpatched systems offers an easy opportunity for attackers to gain access.

Failure to detect Phishing Attempts

A more common cyber-attack we’re seeing in today’s cyber threat landscape is social engineering attacks such as phishing. In phishing attacks, Cybercriminals are attempting to exploit human error, rather than a technology vulnerability. Sending emails where they impersonate a familiar person or reputable organisation, encouraging the user to click on a fraudulent link, in attempt to trick users into sharing personal information, payment information, or login information, by directing them to a malicious website.

With 6.4 billion fraudulent emails reported as being sent daily, it is not surprising that this is one of the most successful ways in which cybercriminals are gaining access to personal information and infiltrating business systems.

Did you know that in 2021, 83% of organisations experienced a successful email-based phishing attack?

As phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated, companies need to become aware of the steps they need to do to avoid these attacks.

So, there are multiple techniques attackers use to gain entry, but what are the best precautions organisations need to take to prevent falling victim to such attacks?

  • Use a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) tool – Using Multi-Factor Authentication is one of the most secure and effective ways of providing additional protection to your password-protected account. This process involves having additional factors to log in, meaning that users must present two or more different methods in order to prove their identity.
  • Use a password manager tool and follow password best practices – Securing the core of your organisation with password management software is a simple and effective way of bolstering your internal security measures within
  • Educate your users on Phishing techniques – Regularly educate and test your users to ensure that they recognise a phishing attempt and they do not open suspicious email attachments or click on unknown links.
  • Maintain security patches across all systems and software – Regularly patching vulnerable software is an important task that will help fight against potential attacks.
  • Have an immutable copy of your backup – Just backing up your data will not necessarily protect your data in the event of a ransomware attack. Having an immutable, ideally offsite, copy of your backup ensures that you have a copy of data that is secure and recoverable.
  • Maintain an up-to-date antivirus/zero day threat security software – This will ensure that your organisation will have the best and latest protection from any new threats, therefore minimising the risk.
  • Having updated security software and strong firewall policies – This is critical, however, be cautious of any fake software, and always use a reputable company.
  • Remove any unnecessary software/plugins or add-on’s – Removing any plugins and add-ons that are not needed in applications will help to prevent ransomware attacks.
  • Use a vulnerability scanning tool – Having a vulnerability scanning tool will highlight where your systems are vulnerable and will report on your remediation actions, in order of severity and priority.

With so many unprecedented security challenges to consider, organisations need to be prepared for, and protected against numerous kinds of cybersecurity access attack vectors. If you need any assistance implementing an effective IT security strategy; minimising risk, maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information, meeting compliance regulations, blocking access and preventing successful cyberattacks on your organisation, get in touch with us today on 01932 232345.

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