To protect against cyber threats, you should close any excess and unused ports on your business’s network. Ports are used to send and receive data. Both servers and host computers have ports that can connect to other machines. While ports are typically used for legitimate purposes, they can also be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing data or installing malware. You can protect against cyber threats such as these, however, by using a port scanner.
What Is a Port Scanner?
A port scanner is a program or application that’s designed to scan a network for open ports. When you run a port scanner, it will scan your business’s network for open ports. The port scanner will then compile the results, revealing which ports are open on which machines.
Each server and computer on your business’s network has many open ports. Some machines, in fact, have thousands of open ports. Unfortunately, cyber criminals often leverage these open ports to conduct their malicious activities. With a port scanner, you’ll be able to see which ports are open on your network-connected computers and servers so that you can take action to close them.
There are several types of port scanners, some of which include the following:
TCP port scanners
SYN port scanners
UDP port scanners
FIN port scanners
ACK port scanners
Why You Should Use a Port Scanner
Using a port scanner will protect your business’s network from cyber threats involving open ports. Most cybersecurity experts will agree that it’s best to limit the number of open ports on a network. The more open ports your business’s network has, the greater the risk of a cyber attack. Identifying open ports manually, though, it’s easy. With hundreds or even thousands of open ports, you’ll need to use a different solution, which is where a port scanner comes into play.
A port scanner isn’t a silver bullet to defend against all cyber threats. Rather, it only offers protection against cyber threats involving open ports. Nonetheless, using a port scanner in conjunction with other cybersecurity solutions will lower your business’s risk of sustaining a cyber attack.
Cyber criminals often target computers and services through one or more open ports. If a port isn’t needed, you can close it to protect against intrusion. A port scanner is a program or application that allows you to easily identify open ports on your business’s network.
If your business regularly connects to a public network, such as the internet, it will likely encounter cyber threats. A firewall can mitigate your business’s risk of an attack by monitoring, as well as blocking, suspicious traffic. There are different types of firewalls, however, including distributed. Distributed firewalls work like all other firewalls by controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic, but they use a unique architecture that distinguishes them from their counterparts.
What Is a Distributed Firewall?
A distributed firewall is a host-oriented firewall that’s designed to monitor network traffic for cyber threats. Like traditional firewalls, they are typically capable of blocking cyber threats as well. Distributed firewalls look for various signs of a cyber attack, such as suspicious Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, while blocking the respective traffic if it contains them.
Distributed firewalls are distinguished from traditional firewalls by the way in which they operate. Traditional firewalls typically operate on a single computer where they monitor traffic on the same network used by the computer. Distributed firewalls, on the other hand, operate across the entire network while using the resources from many computers or machines.
Benefits of Using a Distributed Firewall
By using a distributed firewall, your business will be better protected against cyber threats. Distributed firewalls are unique because they can protect against cyber threats on both sides of your business’s network. Traditional firewalls work under the assumption that all the traffic on your business’s side of the network is secure. Normally, this is true, but cyber attacks can occur anywhere, including within your business’s network.
A distributed firewall offers a more complete and robust level of protection against cyber attacks. Unlike traditional firewalls, they don’t assume that all traffic on your business’s side is secure. Instead, distributed firewalls will use the power from multiple computers or machines to deep-scan all the traffic that comes into and out of your business’s network.
Choosing Between a Distributed Firewall and a Traditional Firewall
Rather than only using a distributed firewall or a traditional firewall, consider using them both. There’s no rule stating that you can only use a single firewall. Many businesses use multiple firewalls for increased protection against cyber attacks.
With both a traditional firewall and a distributed firewall, you’ll reap the cybersecurity benefits of both types. The distributed firewall may catch a threat on your business’s side of the network that may be overlooked by the traditional firewall.
Of all the cyber threats facing businesses today, computer viruses are among the most problematic. Not only can they steal data; they are called “viruses” because they have the innate ability to replicate and spread — just like pathogenic viruses faced by us humans.
There are many different types of computer viruses, however, one of which is macro. Macro viruses can replicate and spread like all other computer viruses, but they are designed in a specific way that distinguishes them from the rest. What is a macro computer virus exactly?
Overview of Macro Computer Viruses
A macro computer virus is a type of self-replicating malicious program that’s written in a macro coding language. Without getting into its technical specifications, a macro is a series of multiple commands that’s embedded within a program. From word processors and spreadsheet editors to photo-editing and accounting software, countless programs contain macros. Macro viruses consist of malicious macros that run within otherwise legitimate programs.
Because they run within legitimate programs, macro computer viruses are oftentimes overlooked by antivirus software and other traditional cybersecurity measures. As previously mentioned, many programs use macros. Microsoft Word files, for instance, often contain multiple macros. Therefore, antivirus software may assume that macro is legitimate when it’s actually malicious.
How Macro Computer Viruses Infect Hosts
Macro computer viruses infect hosts through a particular program. Normally, infection occurs when a host downloads a legitimate-looking file — which contains the macro computer virus — and then opens the file in a particular program.
Email is a common vector of transmission for macro computer viruses. You may download a file attachment believing it’s a legitimate file, only for it to infect your computer once you open it.
Tips to Protect Against Macro Computer Viruses
Although they are difficult to detect, macro computer viruses still leave a digital footprint. As a result, performing a deep scan of your computer using the right antivirus software can lower the risk of infection.
Since most macro computer viruses infect hosts through email, you should use caution when downloading file attachments. Always verify the sender’s identity before downloading a file attachment. If you aren’t confident about the sender’s identity, don’t download it.
If your computer runs Windows, make sure it has the latest version. Macro computer viruses are often embedded in Microsoft Office programs, so Microsoft regularly updates its Windows operating system (OS) to protect against them. If your computer runs an outdated version, though, it will remain vulnerable to infection.
Not to be confused with a virus, a computer worm is a self-replicating program that’s designed to perform some type of malicious activity. They can strike any poorly secured computer, resulting in a fast-spreading infection. Even if you’re familiar with the basic definition of a computer worm, though, there are probably some things you don’t know about them. Below are five facts about computer worms and why they are so destructive.
#1) Spread on Their Own
Computer worms have the ability to spread on their own with the need for a host. This is essentially how they differ from viruses. Most computer viruses work by attaching themselves to a legitimate host program. Once the victim runs the host program, the virus will begin to replicate. Computer worms are more sinister in the sense that they can replicate without the need for a host.
#2) Described in the 1970s
The idea of a self-replicating and self-propagating computer program was originally described in the 1970s by American author John Brunner. During that year, Brunner published a novel titled “The Shockwave Rider” that described a self-replicating malicious program as a “worm.”
#3) A Computer Worm Infected 10% of the Internet
Perhaps the most notorious computer worm of all time is the Morris worm. Developed by Cornell University alumni Robert Morris in the late 1980s, it’s believed to have infected one in 10 internet-connected computers at the time. Thousands of other worms have since emerged, though none have compared to the Morris worm in terms of infectability.
#4) Infect Client Computers and Servers as Well
Computer worms can infect more than just a target computer. Rather, they can also affect client computers and servers on the same network. This is part of the reason why worms have such high infection rates. After infecting a victim’s computer, the worm may spread to other computers and servers on the same network to which it’s connected.
#5) Spread via OS Vulnerabilities
Although they can be spread in many different ways, worms typically make their way onto a victim’s computer via a vulnerability in the computer’s operating system (OS). All computers and servers run at least one OS. Unfortunately, many users neglect to update their device’s OS when a new version is released. The outdated OS may contain a vulnerability that, when exploited, allows a hacker to infect the device with a worm. Keeping the device’s OS up to date is essential for protecting against a myriad of cyber threats, including computer worms.
Keyloggers have been used for over a decade to steal sensitive data from unsuspecting victims. Also known as keystroke loggers, it consists of software or programs that record a victim’s keystrokes. If your computer is infected with a keylogger, a hacker might be able to see everything you type — including the usernames and passwords to all your accounts. However, there are tools available to protect against keyloggers, one of which is an anti-keylogger.
What Is an Anti-Keylogger?
An anti-keylogger, as the name suggests, is a cybersecurity tool that’s designed to detect and/or neutralize keyloggers. A keylogger is a type of software, and like most software, it leaves behind a digital footprint. Anti-keyloggers look for the digital footprints of keyloggers to reveal whether a computer or device is infected with one.
All anti-keyloggers are able to detect keyloggers. They run in the background while scanning files to see if there’s a keylogger present. With that said, some of the more advanced anti-keyloggers are also capable of blocking or even removing keyloggers.
Anti-Keylogger vs Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is also capable of identifying and neutralizing keyloggers. Unfortunately, though, it’s not as effective. Keyloggers generally consist of small and discreet files that are overlooked by most types of antivirus software.
Anti-keyloggers are able to detect all types of keyloggers, including hardware-based keyloggers. Keyloggers can be categorized as either software or hardware based. The most common type, software-based keyloggers consist of software. Hardware-based keyloggers, on the other hand, consist of devices or components — such as USB flash drives — that record keystrokes. You can protect against both software- and hardware-based keyloggers by using an anti-keylogger.
It’s important to note that anti-keyloggers are designed to detect all forms of keystroke logging, including legitimate keystroke logging activities. Not all keystroke logging is performed with malicious intent. Some businesses and individuals use keystroke logging software to create a record of everything they type. If you use keystroke logging software for a legitimate purpose such as this, an anti-keylogger may flag it for removal.
Keystroke logging is an age-old cyber threat that involves logging a victim’s keystrokes. Whether it’s software or hardware based, though, an anti-keylogger can help defend against this otherwise common cyber threat. Anti-keyloggers work by scanning files in search of the digital footprints left behind from keyloggers. At minimum, an anti-keylogger can reveal whether your computer is infected with a keylogger. Some anti-keyloggers go one step further by blocking or removing detected keyloggers.