To understand the 5 common types of cyber vulnerabilities faced within the cybersecurity space, it is necessary to understand what a vulnerability is.
What is a Cybersecurity Vulnerability?
A cybersecurity vulnerability is a weakness in an information system, system security procedures, internal controls, or implementation that could be exploited or triggered by a threat source. (Defined by the Computer Security Resource Center of NIST.gov)
These vulnerabilities can be exploited by a threat (such as a cybercriminal, adversary, or attacker) to compromise assets and advance their attack paths across an organization’s environment.
Identifying security vulnerabilities before an attack can take place is significant to improving and strengthening an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
5 Types of Cyber Vulnerabilities
Your organization’s cybersecurity posture are in your hands, not the threats. This means that your security gaps and vulnerabilities are within your control to patch up and remediate, given that there are proper security policies in place to stay secure.
Lets dive into the most common types of cyber vulnerabilities and how organizations can mitigate their risk exposure.
1. Outdated, Obsolete or Unpatched Systems & Software
Vendors periodically release application updates containing new features, functionalities, and fixes to older vulnerabilities. Not having an asset management policy to periodically update your software and systems leaves you open as an easy target for advanced cyber threat actors.
These updates can be easy to miss and leaves companies with limited IT budget unaware. The inability to stay on top of these updates can potentially expose your organization to costly damages and consequences. Unfortunately, all it requires is one machine to be exposed, and an attack path can be developed for ransomware, malware, and other attack vectors to exploit the vulnerability.
Recommendations: To help mitigate and prevent these issues from occurring, it is vital to have an asset management policy that allows you to prioritize updates continuously. Having an automatic process implemented will ensure all systems and endpoints are secure as possible.
Misconfigurations are one of the largest threats to cloud and application security. Many application security tools require manual configuration, which leaves organizations to human error, with huge time commitments to managing and updating their tools.
Something as simple as a misconfigured firewall opens an organization’s externally facing assets open for adversaries to discover any potential systems exposed. According to recent publicly reported breaches, attackers start with misconfigured S3 buckets as the initial entry to their attack path. These issues allow web crawlers to discover and target them easily.
Recommendations: To mitigate these vulnerabilities, there should be an automated configuration process for security tools and technologies to reduce the risk exposure of human errors being present within the environment.
3. Compromised User Credentials
Whether the credentials are considered weak or stolen, many users continue to fail when it comes to password hygiene practices. Their passwords are not unique or strong enough to protect their accounts. Many users reuse and recycle the same passwords from other accounts, which makes it easier for attackers to exploit.
Often times, these credentials are exploited through brute force attacks. This is when an adversary attempts to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems by trying as many combinations of username/email and passwords to guess correctly. If these adversaries are successful and there isn’t any Multi-Factor Authentication active, they will gain access to the user account they’ve exploited. With this, they can take their attack path further by laterally moving across environments, install back doors, and gain more information regarding the system and the user for future cyberattacks.
Recommendations: To help address this issue, organizations should set and enforce clear password policies that require:
- Strong, unique passwords
- Periodic password rotation
- Use of Multi-Factor Authentication
This doesn’t make your defense infallible, as a Man-in-The-Middle attack could allow an adversary to sit as a proxy between the target and the desired application the target is looking to use, where they can authenticate one-time security MFA tokens, obtain session cookies, and authenticate as the user. It is worth noting that these type of attacks require more effort and can be difficult, so having good password policies is still mandatory for security reasons.
4. User Permissions and Access Controls
Organizations will often grant employees more access and permissions than required for their roles and responsibilities. This creates identity-based threats and allows threat actors to expand their attack exposure in the event of a breach.
Recommendations: Companies should limit users to only the rights based on the tasks necessary to perform their job functions. One of the most effective practices for strengthening your security posture is the principle of least privilege (POLP). This practice allows you to control and monitor your network, environment, and access controls.
Zero-Day Vulnerabilities are security flaws that are unknown to the enterprise and software vendor, but have been discovered by a threat actor. The term “zero-day” refers to the idea that they have had zero days to work on patching and fixing the issue, while it remains open for threats to capitalize upon.
Recommendations: Zero day attacks are extremely dangerous and are difficult to detect. Although there isn’t a true prevention of this attack, you can mitigate the risk with a proper incident response plan. Having prevention technologies and a policy will allow you to combat these stealthy cyberattacks. Combining endpoint security solutions will help for attack preparation.
What is Vulnerability Management?
You can help identify these common types of cyber vulnerabilities through the use of Vulnerability Management. Vulnerability management is the continuous process of identifying, assessing, mitigating, and reporting on cyber vulnerabilities across assets within a network/environment.
Want To Learn More?
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