A network vulnerability is a hole in your security that attackers can use to access your data and steal valuable information. Knowing what types of vulnerabilities exist and their risks, you can proactively protect your sensitive information.
Vulnerabilities can be classified into four broad categories. Those that are human-based can be prevented by regularly updating systems, ensuring passwords are secure, and using default settings rather than allowing customized options.
Authentication and authorization go hand in hand, and since web applications are so dependent on correctly enforcing access control to protect sensitive data, these types of vulnerabilities are at the forefront of cybersecurity issues. These are sometimes called auth vulnerabilities or even auth attacks and can stem from flaws in application logic, security measures that don’t take effect, or a missed step in the verification process.
A typical example involves the use of weak cryptography on passwords. This makes it easier for attackers to crack or decipher a password. Another is the inability to implement multifactor authentication, which uses multiple forms of verification, such as a password and a fingerprint or a password and a token, to prevent unauthorized access to an account.
Companies often rely on the common vulnerabilities guide by Fortinet to enhance their cybersecurity measures and fortify their digital defenses.
One of the biggest challenges in preventing authentication-based cyber attacks is that end users are often unaware of how their behavior impacts the integrity of an organization’s cybersecurity measures. They should be trained to identify and report phishing emails and suspicious attachments and given access to tools that will help them keep their information secure.
Other ways to mitigate this cyber attack include requiring strong passwords, implementing multifactor authentication, and setting up alerts for recurring attempts to log in to accounts, such as email, social media, or online banking. This is important because stolen or weak credentials caused most data breaches in 2020.
Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities to access a network, steal data, and disrupt business operations. Effective vulnerability management helps mitigate these threats.
A vulnerability, a weakness in a computer software system, allows unwarranted access. For example, software processing credit card numbers shouldn’t allow nefarious parties to read those numbers. But if that software is vulnerable, those infamous parties can use that weakness to gain entry into the IT environment and steal credit card numbers.
In cybersecurity, a CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) is a catalog-type reference system that defines, identifies, and publicly discloses information security vulnerabilities. Each of the thousands of vulnerabilities in the CVE list has a standardized identification number and one or more public references.
Malware is a broad term that includes programs used to exploit vulnerable systems and steal data, as well as those that hide malicious activity and compromise the integrity of a system. These tools can include ransomware, bots, keyloggers and trojans.
To reduce the risk of malware, ensure your IT environments are updated regularly to benefit from the latest security patches and updates. Also, consider upgrading outdated hardware to contemporary devices with built-in security features. This can help protect your critical networks, programs, and user credentials from threat actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. This is an essential part of a comprehensive vulnerability management program.
Phishing attacks are the source of many cybersecurity incidents, including account and password theft, ransomware infection, credentials hijacking, business email compromise (BEC), and data leakage. Attackers use phishing to trick victims into revealing personal or financial information, and they may even exploit vulnerabilities like spoofing or exploitation of web browsers to gain access.
Modern phishing attacks have come a long way from the low-level “spray and pray” AOHell and Nigerian Prince scams. Attackers now target specific individuals or companies with various schemes requiring high social engineering skills. For example, a spear-phishing campaign targeting HVAC vendors resulted in the 2013 Target data breach, and a 2016 phishing attack against Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign led to the release of her private emails. Attackers also use techniques like homograph spoofing, where attackers register domains using different characters but close enough to trusted well-known domain names, and graphical rendering, where all or part of an email is rendered as a visual image, to bypass phishing detection.
Security awareness training is a must for all employees to mitigate phishing attacks. Employees should be educated on phishing and recognizing suspicious behavior, and they should learn to independently verify URLs and websites rather than clicking links in unfamiliar emails. In addition, system administrators can deploy security software that alerts users to suspicious URLs in incoming emails, effectively reducing phishing attacks.
Remote Access Vulnerabilities
Keeping remote access vulnerabilities at bay is critical for business operations. Many attackers exploit this vulnerability to gain a foothold within the network and launch more damaging attacks. Organizations must utilize security tools like zero-trust policies and network segmentation to mitigate these risks and prevent lateral movement. They must also use security tools like application isolation and sandboxing to ensure third-party vendors are not granted privileged access or elevated privileges.
Many employees use their home computers to access systems or applications remotely, which can create serious security issues if these devices are not secured. Attackers can eavesdrop on these connections, steal data, and even use compromised systems to attack other networks or users. To mitigate these risks, businesses can implement layered security, including strong passwords and two-factor authentication, VPNs, firewalls, and encryption.
Threat actors constantly innovate, but the basic techniques they use to infiltrate a system remain the same. By understanding how hackers manipulate these weaknesses, businesses can develop a more robust defense against these types of attacks. In addition, regular vulnerability scans can help organizations discover and remediate these gaps in their security posture. As a best practice, fixing these known vulnerabilities promptly is essential. Exposures should be prioritized based on their impact on the organization’s system and the information that is at risk.