By Josh Anton– UVA McIntire Alumni, the founder of Digital Element
Cybercrime never sleeps; there are simply too many bad actors worldwide actively trying to gain access to corporate networks, be it to steal sensitive data or harm the corporation’s reputation. In 2022 alone, there have been data breaches of enterprises with extremely sophisticated cybersecurity networks such as Microsoft, Cash App, and News Corp. This leaves cybersecurity teams and network professionals constantly searching for new ways to bolster their network security and prevent bad actors from accessing their data illegally, a process that is easier said than done.
How IP-Based Data Enhances Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity professionals can enhance their network security by leveraging IP data to lend context to the users attempting to access their network. While IP data itself won’t provide greater security, the information it provides enables cybersecurity professionals to enhance the security strategies they employ.
Every IP address provides a wealth of contextual data useful to network security professionals. For example, through a user’s IP address, a network administrator knows from where the traffic originates and whether or not it is proxied, masked, or circumvented in some way or another.
This IP data can, in turn, be used to enhance traffic and threat analytics, allowing network security professionals to understand where attacks originate and what that nefarious traffic looks like going forward. This will enable them to set preexisting rules and parameters for traffic that does not meet certain criteria, either flagging potential threats for further review or outright blocking the traffic from accessing the network.
Web Application Firewall
A Web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that filters out, monitors, and blocks certain traffic from accessing a web service. IP location data provides network security professionals with the necessary context to bolster their WAFs so that they block potential threats without limiting legitimate users.
For example, if traffic originates from a region of the globe that is notable for cyber threats, it can raise an alert to be monitored or blocked outright. Russia, for example, does not restrict the hacking of systems outside of its borders, nor does it extradite hackers who have attempted to, or succeeded in, breaching another nation’s digital systems.
Preset internal rules can process traffic from suspicious regions, limiting access or requiring multifactor authentication.
VPN usage is increasing worldwide and not just for nefarious purposes. Both household consumers and businesses are adopting VPN usage in record numbers to enhance privacy and keep remote workers connected to internal systems, respectively.
Therefore, the outright prevention of any user attempting to connect to a network-based solely on their employment of a VPN would likely result in blocking legitimate users along with potential bad actors. IP data lends context to the VPNs being used to inform which users are legitimate and which warrant further investigation.
For example, not all VPN service providers are created equal. Certain VPN providers offer their services for free, while others do not log user activity on their servers. If a user attempts to access a corporate network using a VPN from one of these VPN service providers or if the provider is located in one of the suspect regions mentioned above, it can raise a flag to further inspect the user before granting access to the network.
IoT devices have become a focal point for bad actors looking to bypass network security protocols. When a consumer introduces a smart device into their home, they typically don’t consider it a weak point that can be exposed to access all other devices on the network. However, many of these devices become exposed for one reason or another, such as their manufacturers going out of business and ceasing to release security patches.
If a remote worker has a vulnerable IoT device that is attacked, their work laptop could be at risk, thus putting the corporate network at risk. But with IP data, network security teams can ensure that data from employees’ devices originates in their homes and not some other location worldwide. Even if an attacker uses a VPN to access the corporate network via an employee’s home network, IP location data is sophisticated enough to distinguish between the employee’s home and a nearby town or city.
Overall, as cyber threats grow more sophisticated, cybersecurity professionals need to be ready with every tool in their toolbelt to take preemptive action against threats and limit damage when attacks do occur. With IP data, security professionals have access to the information needed to differentiate legitimate traffic from that of bad actors looking to access the network illegally and cause harm.