A backdoor attack uses a specific type of malware so hackers can avoid normal authentication procedures to gain access to a target system. As a result, perpetrators can go through all resources such as file servers and databases to issue commands and change system settings without being discovered.
Hackers install backdoors to take control of vulnerable network components, allowing them to carry out targeted attacks. These attacks include website defacement, data theft, server hijacking, watering hole attacks, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, among others.
Imagine this scenario. A burglar scouts your house for possible entry points. A check of the front door reveals a complicated security system with cameras to boot. A similar check of the back door, however, reveals a pet door that remains unlocked at night. That pet door can let the thief enter the target home without getting caught.
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What Are the Common Intrusion Strategies Used in Backdoor Attacks?
Backdoor attacks not only allow perpetrators to disguise points of entry. They also let attackers carry out unobtrusive intrusion strategies that include:
Cybercriminals who intend to exploit a system for longer periods commonly set up connect availability group listeners, which provide “open-door” access during backdoor attacks. This technique lets them extend the time for stealing data. In this process, the attackers can gain access to the network via the backdoor and install malware that can allow them to stage their attack over an extended period without being detected.
This strategy is commonly employed if the target server has a firewall. Hackers use the connect-back approach via the installation of a backdoor. This backdoor establishes a connection between the target network and the hackers’ command-and-control (C&C) server. With it, the attackers can send stolen data to their server or issue commands from it to the network without getting detected.
Port-binding strategies were commonly used before firewalls became a thing. In it, hackers change system configurations to identify how and where messages should be sent from a backdoor-infected system.
In some cases, hackers use connected but insufficiently protected platforms to sidestep even the most sophisticated security system. An example would be using a company’s blog to hide malicious C&C server communications.
According to experts, backdoor attacks are not only limited to software. They can also work with hardware such as surveillance systems, authentication tokens, and communication devices.
How to Prevent Backdoor Attacks
Backdoor attacks can be challenging to detect, as they are designed to be undiscoverable. In most cases, users are not even aware that their systems are backdoor-infected. But there are preventive strategies to help reduce risks such as:
Users can employ robust anti-malware that can detect website vulnerabilities and prevent malicious attacks. Since most backdoors are remote access Trojans (RATs), they can be detected by anti-malware.
Employing Firewalls and Network Monitoring Tools
Firewalls and network monitoring tools should also be standard parts of security systems. Firewalls can limit access to authorized users. Network monitoring tools, meanwhile, can flag suspicious activities such as unauthorized data deletion or addition.
Updating Software Regularly
It will also be a huge help if users constantly update and patch software. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for software bugs to exploit to gain entry into target networks. Applying patches as soon as they become available lessens users’ chances of vulnerability exploitation.
A backdoor attack is a threat to all users, particularly businesses that hold confidential corporate and customer data. Understanding what it is, how attackers use it, and how it can be prevented can help ensure user protection.