Welcome to the digital age, where everything from our personal information to the critical infrastructure of entire nations is stored and managed online. The value of the aforementioned data is immense and cyber criminals are eager to capitalize on ill-gotten gains.

A combination of extortion and dark web data sales allow cyber criminals to create livable wages for themselves, to recruit others to join their operations, and to finance endeavors that law-abiding people would not endorse (think intellectual property theft and terrorism).

Protecting data and systems is crucial for all organizations. By staying informed about potential vulnerabilities and cyber threats, we can safeguard what we own and keep cyber opportunists from accessing and monetizing it.

In this article, we’ll deep-dive into the 10 of the top cyber security vulnerabilities to be mindful of in 2023. Let’s work together to prevent data breaches and to ensure that our resources stay safe and secure.

10 top cyber security vulnerabilities

1. Zero day. These types of vulnerabilities are discovered by cyber criminals and exploited before a patch becomes available. Zero day vulnerabilities, such as Log4j, often become high-profile, and tend to cause an inexorable amount of damage due to the fact that hackers are able to exploit them before security professionals can resolve them.

2. Remote code execution (RCE). An RCE vulnerability enables an attacker to execute malicious code on vulnerable systems. This code execution can permit hackers to steal sensitive data, to deploy malware, or to engender other malicious actions.

3. Poor data sanitization. Many attacks, such as SQL injection and buffer overflows, involve an attacker submitting invalid data to an application. A failure to properly validate data ahead of processing leaves these applications vulnerable to cyber attack.

4. Unpatched software. Software vulnerabilities are common. They can be corrected by applying patches or updates that fix the issue. A failure to properly patch out-of-date software renders it vulnerable to exploitation.

5. Unauthorized access. It’s common for enterprises to assign employees and contractors more access and privileges than they require to perform their roles. These extra permissions result in security risks. For instance, a cyber attacker who gains access to an employee’s account might then access sensitive data, which he/she otherwise may not have been able to do with the implementation of zero trust principles.

6. Misconfiguration. Software commonly has a series of configuration settings that enable or disable specific features, including security functionalities. A failure to configure applications securely is a common issue, especially within cloud environments.

7. Credential theft. This can occur via phishing, malware and credential stuffing attacks. An attacker with access to a legitimate user’s account can leverage the access to conduct espionage, manipulate other employees, steal data or to otherwise engage in malicious activities.

8. Human error. Between lack of security expertise and employees clicking on malicious content, human error represents a significant area of concern. Is your organization providing professional development opportunities for security staff and separately, employee awareness training for rank-and-file employees?

9. Vulnerable APIs. Often, web security strategies focus on web applications, which are the more visible components of a digital attack surface. However, APIs can be particularly worrisome if not properly secured against unauthorized access or exploitation.

10. Third-party risks. More than a third of cyber security professionals report that supply chain/third-party risks are a top threat to their organization’s security. Many organizations do not have anyone assigned to manage third-party risk – something that may need to change in 2023.

Protecting against vulnerabilities

  • Vulnerability scanning. A vulnerability scanner can automatically identify many of the vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems. Performing a vulnerability scan provides insight into the issues that need correction and can show where a company is most likely to encounter an attack.
  • Access control. Many vulnerabilities arise from weak authentication and inadequate access control. Implementing least privilege and deploying multi-factor authentication (MFA) can help to limit the risk of account takeover attacks.
  • Validate user input. Many exploits take advantage of poor input validation. Applications should be designed to fully validate input before trusting and processing it.
  • Automate security monitoring. Many companies have sprawling IT architectures, making it difficult or impossible to manually track configuration settings and cyber defenses. Automating security monitoring and management enables security teams to scale and quickly remediate issues.
  • Deploy security solutions. Many common attack types can be identified and stopped with cyber security solutions. These include firewalls, endpoint security tools and cloud security tools. Beyond that, implementing a comprehensive, integrated cyber security architecture can reduce the risks posed by vulnerabilities.

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