Contributed by George Mack, Content Marketing Manager, Check Point Software.
Nearly all security incidents stem from cyber security vulnerabilities.
What is a cyber security vulnerability?
A vulnerability is a weakness in a system, such as outdated software or unauthorized access, that allows a threat actor to exploit it for malicious purposes.
Therefore, to protect your company, you need to conduct a careful analysis of where potential weaknesses may exist and fix them immediately.
However, which weaknesses should you look at fixing first? In this article, we’ll list six of the most common cyber security vulnerabilities and how to remediate them.
Sometimes, mistakes are made when configuring system settings, software, or network components – inadvertently exposing weaknesses and creating opportunities for threat actors to exploit. These misconfigurations can range from simple oversights to complex issues, such as weak passwords, access controls, and open ports. When it comes to cloud security, misconfigurations cause far more issues than any other vulnerability. To mitigate these risks, organizations must prioritize configuration audits, strong security protocols, and ongoing monitoring.
2. Unpatched software
The failure to patch and update outdated software presents a massive security risk. Software vendors release updates and patches to address known security flaws. When companies neglect to apply these patches, they are leaving their systems exposed to security risks. One report discovered that unpatched vulnerabilities are the leading cause of ransomware attacks. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest vulnerabilities to address as long as you implement proactive software update schedules.
3. Unauthorized access
Unauthorized access refers to unauthorized entry or usage of restricted computer resources. For example, an admin might have permission to add new users to a system, but new users shouldn’t have that privilege. However, if the application has a bug or doesn’t limit access to that function, then a regular user could essentially act as an admin and add new users to the system.
When a threat actor gains unauthorized access, the consequences can be far-reaching, especially if they attempt a lateral movement to access additional systems and data. Risks include unauthorized disclosure of information, disruption of services, financial loss, legal implications, and even blackmail.
To prevent unauthorized access, organizations should implement multi-factor authentication, a strong password policy, user monitoring, and endpoint security.
4. Vulnerable APIs
Organizations are rapidly adopting APIs for their operations. An API, or an application programming interface, allows one computer program to interact with another program. An API vulnerability allows attackers to gain access to or intercept sensitive data, and these vulnerabilities occur when an API is not properly secured.
There are multiple ways in which an API can be insecure, such as broken access control, excessive data exposure, and broken authentication issues. To defend against these risks, it’s important to not only use strong passwords and security measures, but to also ensure that only authorized users have access. In addition, you should regularly test your APIs for security risks.
5. Credential theft
It’s no secret that phishing is one of the most dangerous cyberattacks in the current threat landscape. In fact, 91% of all cyber attacks begin with a phishing email. Often, the aim of a phishing attack is to steal the victim’s credentials in order to gain access to restricted systems and wreak havoc. In addition, threat actors can brute force their way into a system by using bots and a list of username and password pairs that have been exposed in a data breach. To minimize the risk of credential theft, companies should implement password security best practices, such as requiring the use of complex passwords and scheduling to force routine password changes.
6. Zero day
Zero-day vulnerabilities are weaknesses that cyber criminals discover before a patch is available. For example, Log4j was one of the most infamous vulnerabilities that enabled attackers to take full control over vulnerable systems without having to go through any security measures. Protecting against zero-day attacks requires access to a high-quality threat intelligence solution, giving you the power to predict what could be a potential security vulnerability.
Vulnerabilities are difficult to identify. They often don’t make themselves known until a hacker exploits them, forcing the company to contend with the aftermath and remediate any vulnerabilities that may have led to the incident.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Act now to prevent any potential future cyber incident.
A crucial first step to preventing cyberattacks is identifying vulnerabilities within your network, which is why Check Point offers a free security checkup service.