The 6 Phases of a Network Intrusion Attack

by Tashina

A network intrusion attack is an unauthorised attack on a digital network that can occur in various ways. It often involves stealing valuable network resources and jeopardising the security of the network and/or its data.

There are six phases of a network intrusion attack:


The first step of the attack involves getting familiar with the target. All open-source information that is available over the internet plays a crucial role in this step. The documents regarding the organisation and information related to associated people are also a critical aspect.

Solution:  Penetration tests can assist you at this stage.

Initial Exploitation

If a hacker gets past the reconnaissance stage they then proceed towards initial exploitation. In this phase, they get access to the target network by spear phishing, water-hole attacks, SQL injection attack, or exploiting a known CVE vulnerability.

Solution: It is also important to set up best security practices such as setting up least amount of privilege, whitelisting applications and segmenting parts of network.

Establish Persistence

When a hacker gains access to the network, they aim to establish persistence. Thus, in this phase, the hacker escalates privileges and creates numerous methods to regain access if required.

Solution: Whitelisting is one of the ways in which to stop hackers proceeding further. Through Whitelisting you can separate some assets from the rest of the network.

Install Tools

Once hackers are sure that a strong ground is set for them to proceed they may begin installing small logging tools.

Solution: Ensuring the use of behavioural based detections may aid in discovering that there is malicious activity coming from the internal network.

Move Laterally

If you are unable to stop the attacker by now, then they start moving laterally in the network. In other words, they begin to search for additional targets.

Solution: Network segmentation and monitoring can somewhat help in detecting and preventing such issues.

Extract and Exploit

The attacker reaches the final stage which means they have a strong grasp over the target and just need to extract data.

You don’t want to know about a breach after an attacker has already extracted your sensitive information. Hence, it’s important to have a monitoring plan in place, create data backups and also ensure the company gets a penetration testing quote from a reputable supplier such as Aardwolf Security.


Get in touch with Aardwolf Security today to find out more about how we can help you with our network penetration testing services.

You may also like