Tips for Detecting Suspicious Changes in Your Network

By infohub — Dec 11th, 2017

Tips for Detecting Suspicious Changes in Your Network

 Ever since the Internet was born, there have been multiple security concerns associated with it. Cybersecurity is now a major focus of governments, organizations, and individuals with the ever-looming threat of malicious cyber-attacks. The recent WannaCry and Petya cybercrimes exposed the vulnerability of computer systems to virus and malware attacks. Millions of dollars have been lost, not to mention the reputation damage for many organizations and governments, thanks to data breaches. Yahoo! has been subjected to two malicious cyber-attacks resulting in sensitive user data being stolen, while banks like JP Morgan suffered huge financial losses, thanks to cybercrime.

A data breach can be very tricky to deal with. As with everything else, prevention is better than cure when it comes to cyber-attacks. Many organizations can take more than six months to identify a data breach and a longer time to fix it. Recognizing the red flags of suspicious activities in the network is the first step towards taking preventive action before these become full-scale attacks.

Antimalware and anti-ransomware software are available that need to be constantly updated to prevent cyber-attacks. For businesses or websites, experts also recommend using remote scanners which are also available as free tools to catch malicious code on the website.


Detecting suspicious activities

Here are some tips to detect suspicious changes in the network:

Different user access patterns: This is the most commonly encountered method of attempting a hack. Failed log-in attempts, password change requests, remote access, and odd hours access are some of the red flags that indicate attempts to hack your account. Unusual or suspicious user account activity can be also seen in the log data.

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Unusual database activities: Most organizations maintain a database that is central to its operations. Unusual database-related changes such as admin or user permissions, sudden growth in data or other strange database actions can indicate hacking attempts.


Changes in file configuration: Cybercriminals attempt to modify critical files as soon as they gain access to avoid being detected. Files being deleted or replaced, changes in file content or system file configuration are sure indicators of a cyber-attack.

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Updating patches: Cybercriminals take advantage of a scheduled security patch update to carry out malicious activities in the system. If the security patch update is an online process, the system could be highly vulnerable to external threats. Some antivirus software or firewall also needs to be disabled to enable security updates. Investing in a monitoring tool that contains inbuilt intelligence to detect negative changes during security updates will be prudent. Smart automation tools are available that by default permit only the changes that are directly related to the relevant patch update.

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Privileged account hacks: Carried out by insiders, the privilege account abuse is one of the most common hacks according to Verizon. Employees may share privilege account details or modify audit trails leaving the organization open to external threats. System administration monitoring and employee background checks are absolutely essential to prevent insider hacks.

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Port access: A large number of data breaches could be the result of a lack of knowledge in insiders. But intended data theft can happen by insiders in collaboration with external entities. Unauthorized port access is a red flag that shows data theft or uploading of malicious software to a network. It is possible to block unauthorized access by accessing the Windows Registry for Windows users.


Mismatch of device and user: Mismatch between user and device can indicate an attempt at hacking. Frequent scheduled log reviews can indicate a mismatch between device and user when the former is directly linked to the user.
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