Cybersecurity Alert: Hackers Target Fortinet VPNs

The FBI and CISA have issued an alert due to the increased rate of cybercriminal attacks against Fortinet VPNs. Are you sure your remote workers are secure?

VPNs have been in use for years, but with the recent rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re even more commonplace.

Because of this, cybercriminals have doubled down on their attacks against VPNs, working harder and harder to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. The FBI and CISA have issued an alert to warn organizations about a recent surge in attacks against Fortinet VPNs.

If you use Fortinet technology to secure your remote workers, then you need to be sure you’re not at risk.

How Does A VPN Work?

A VPN creates a secure tunnel for your data to transit the Internet, using a network of private servers.

When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted, or hidden, as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the Internet through what’s called an exit node. A VPN creates the appearance that your data is coming from the VPN server, not from your device.

Therefore, it’s harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data. Even if attackers can intercept your data, the encryption means the attackers can’t understand your data or use it to their advantage.

When you put your data out to the VPN server, it exits back out to the public internet. If the site you’re visiting has HTTPS to keep the connection safe, you are still secure.

Why Are Fortinet VPNs Under Attack?

This surge in attacks against Fortinet VPNs is based on a number of vulnerabilities identified back in 2019. Although Fortinet issued patches to resolve these vulnerabilities that year, the software may still be unpatched by some users. That, combined with the increased dependency on VPNs during the COVID-19 pandemic, put users at an extremely high risk of having their networks penetrated by malicious third parties.

The fact is that VPNs like this were not designed for this scale of use. Originally, VPNs were used by around 10% of a given company’s workforce, but since the start of the pandemic, usage rates have skyrocketed. That’s why you need to be extra careful about the security of your VPNs, no matter what vendor provides them.

What Do You Need To Do To Secure Your VPN?

  1. Check with your IT team to find out whether you use a Fortinet VPN.
  2. If so, make sure it is patched, and ensure that any vulnerabilities are addressed according to this cybersecurity advisory.
  3. Ensure that all your systems are patched and updated on a regular basis.

Why Is Patch Management So Important?

The fact is that the most common way cybercriminals get into a network is through loopholes in popular software, applications, and programs. That’s why patch management is so important.

Despite how advanced modern software is, it is still designed by humans, and the fact is that humans still make mistakes. That’s why much of the software you rely on to get work done every day could have flaws — or “exploits” — that leave you vulnerable to security breaches.

Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting those programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users. This is why it’s important for you to keep your applications and systems up to date.

Get in touch with the Accelera IT Solutions team to discover how we handle patch management for our clients.

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