Cyber security is an indispensable aspect of any business operation. Recognising and understanding vulnerabilities - the potential risks that could compromise an organisation's cyber security - are critical. These latent risks become real and potentially damaging threats when exploited by a threat actor or accidentally by user error, leading to disastrous consequences like data breaches, malware infections, financial loss, and/or a loss of business-critical services.
Top Eight Cyber Security Vulnerabilities
Understanding the types of vulnerabilities that pose threats to cyber security is key to implementing robust defensive measures. Here are the top eight vulnerabilities that you should be aware of:
Zero-day vulnerabilities are a significant concern in cyber security. These potential risks are discovered and exploited by cyber criminals before a patch becomes available, leaving systems exposed to attacks.
Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Services are your biggest ally when it comes to tackling zero days. MDR services, in conjunction with underlying detection technology detects the anomalous behaviours such as lateral movement or privilege escalation of attackers in the environment who have potentially successfully exploited a zero-day vulnerability before they have completed their nefarious activities. Digital Risk Protection Services can also help as they can detect threat actors' discussion on a dark web criminal forum of their intent to attack a named customer with a zero day or picking up leaked credentials quickly after the event.
Remote Code Execution (RCE)
An RCE vulnerability, if exploited, allows an attacker to run malicious code on the victim's system. Remote Code Execution (RCE) attacks can initiate unauthorised access, providing a foothold for attackers to install malware or meet nefarious objectives. They also risk data exposure, either through data-stealing malware or direct data exfiltration commands. Moreover, RCE vulnerabilities can disrupt application operations, resulting in Denial of Service (DoS). These vulnerabilities are often manipulated for crypto mining, exploiting the device's processing power for cryptocurrency mining. Finally, they pose a threat by enabling ransomware deployment, blocking users from their files until a ransom is paid.
Firewalls and Managed Endpoint security services can help prevent RCE attacks. Moreover, routine vulnerability assessments and penetration testing can help identify and patch potential RCE vulnerabilities.
Poor Data Sanitisation
This vulnerability surfaces when an application fails to validate data before processing it properly. Many attacks, including SQL injection and buffer overflows, are facilitated through this pathway, with an attacker submitting invalid data to an application, thus opening the door for exploitation.
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) shield against common web application vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injections. They're critical for industries like e-commerce and those accepting website credit card payments, aiding in achieving Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.
Patching software is a fundamental aspect of maintaining cyber security. Failure to regularly update software can leave known vulnerabilities open to exploitation. There have been many occasions where a company has failed to patch a vulnerability in a timely manner and who have then fallen victim to it months or even years after the vulnerability was first discovered. Utilising Threat and Vulnerability Management solutions give instant visibility into software, hardware and digital infrastructure so that you can identify where you might be vulnerable.
Use it to learn what you need to patch and how to protect yourselves during patching. Continuously secure your infrastructure and maintain compliance in the face of tight regulations.
Risks of Unauthorised Access
Unnecessary access permissions can present a considerable security risk. If an employee misuses their privileges, or an account is compromised, it can lead to a significant breach. Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions help manage user identities and control their access to resources, reducing the risk of unauthorised access. Utilising Zero Trust policies and MDR services can greatly reduce the risks posed by unauthorised access.
Application misconfigurations, especially in cloud settings, pose a substantial security risk. Enforcing secure configurations is key to a strong cyber security framework. Build reviews contribute significantly to this, offering consistent testing that informs IT and security teams of their configurations' effectiveness against potential attacks. Furthermore, by pinpointing issues early in the deployment stage, build reviews become crucial learning resources, averting repetitive problems and reinforcing overall security in the long run.
Cybercriminals often resort to phishing, malware, and credential stuffing attacks to gain access to a legitimate user's account, which they then use to launch attacks on the organisation and its systems.
Digital social engineering employs deceptive tactics and false identities to assess an organisation's staff reactions to information gathering attempts. By utilising prevalent attack techniques such as phishing, it gauges whether the employees are sufficiently aware of common cyber threats to avoid harmful links, or if they pose a potential security risk to the company. To counter this a business can use social engineering tests to evaluate how vulnerable they are to such threats. They can influence future employee security awareness training as well as identify vulnerabilities that aren’t always discovered.
Misconfigured and vulnerable APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) can expose sensitive data and functions to unauthorised users. Attackers can exploit these insecure APIs to gain access to sensitive information or carry out malicious actions. API security and MDR services can play a key role in detecting and responding to such threats.
The Importance of Proactive Cyber Security
Recognising these exposures and taking proactive measures to mitigate them is paramount in today's digital age. The cost of remediation before an attack is significantly lower than the potential fallout of a cyber breach. Thus, a proactive approach to cyber security, identifying and managing vulnerabilities and exposures, patching, and vigilant threat detection and response is the best defence against the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.
If you're ready to minimise cyber security risks and catch incidents before they snowball into more significant issues, reach out to us and discover more about our top-tier managed security services.