Are you familiar with lateral network movement? It’s a fundamental component of many cyber attacks. If your business’s network is breached, the hacker may rely on lateral network movement to identify and steal your business’s sensitive data. Maybe the hacker wants to sell your business’s data on the black market, or perhaps the hacker wants to use the data for other nefarious purposes like identity theft. Familiarizing yourself with lateral network movement will allow you to safeguard your business’s data more effectively.

What Is Lateral Network Movement?

Lateral network movement refers to the methods and techniques that a hacker uses to navigate a victim’s network after breaching it. It allows follows an intrusion. A hacker must breach your business’s network before he or she can navigate it. Intrusion, of course, typically involves a vulnerability. The hacker may exploit a network vulnerability, thus gaining access to your business’s network. The hacker will then move around your business’s network while trying to identify and steal sensitive data — a process known as lateral network movement.

Breaking Down the Stages of Lateral Network Movement

While it’s often performed in different ways, lateral network movement may consist of several common stages. The first stage is reconnaissance. During the reconnaissance stage, the hacker’s goal isn’t to steal sensitive data. Rather, the hacker’s goal is to evaluate your business’s network and its defenses while remaining undetected. The reconnaissance stage lays the groundwork for data theft.

Following the reconnaissance stage is the credential acquisition stage. Credential acquisition, as the name suggests, involves the hacker obtaining the credentials of a legitimate user. The hacker may use any number of processes to acquire the credentials of a legitimate user. The hacker may rely on phishing emails, or he or she may use a brute-force attack.

After obtaining the user’s credentials, the hacker will use them to access an otherwise protected part of your business’s network and, thus, steal your business’s sensitive data. Administrative privileges will give the hacker free reign over your network. If the hacker is able to move around your business’s network under the guise of an administrator, he or she will have access to all of your business’s data.

In Conclusion

In cybersecurity, lateral network movement consists of the methods and techniques that hackers use to navigate a network following a breach. It typically involves several stages, including reconnaissance, credential acquisition and then data theft. Hackers may breach your business’s network, after which they may rely on lateral network movement to navigate it.