Cybercriminals are constantly seeking to take advantage of your computer security vulnerabilities.
The move to remote-first has underlined the increasing reliance on cloud and web technologies while also confirming what the software development world has known for at least a few years: that web-only is finally a viable option.
While the goals of these cybercriminals may vary from one to the next (political motives, monetary gain, or just for kicks/prestige), they pose a significant threat to your organization.
Part of protecting your business against modern cyber threats is being aware of the different types of vulnerability that might put your network at risk—and then securing those weaknesses before an attacker can use them. What are some common network security vulnerabilities, and how can you counter them?
IT security pros have never faced more threats, whether it’s from the huge increase in remote work. While there will always be new holes to plug, security vulnerabilities usually stem from the same few causes: unpatched vulnerabilities, misconfigurations or user error, and even the most tech-savvy companies are vulnerable to these mistakes.
Here are some of the most common IT security vulnerabilities. By taking a proactive stance against the most common cyber vulnerabilities and security misconfigurations, you can prevent many cyber attacks from happening.
- Missing Data Encryption. When your data is not properly encrypted before storage or transmission, your vulnerability to a cyber threat increases.
- OS Command Injection. OS command injection, or shell injection, happens when an attacker executes operating system (OS) commands on your server while it’s running an application. This vulnerability can be used to prey upon other parts of your infrastructure to gain deeper reach into your organization. It is typically caused by incorrect or complete lack of input data validation.
- Buffer Overflow. Most software developers understand the threat posed by buffer overflow. Even still, the occurrence is common because of the wide variety of ways buffer overflows can occur, and the error-prone techniques often used to prevent them.
- Missing Authentication/Authorization. This vulnerability is due to insufficient authorization or authentication limitations. Attackers step in to take advantage where weak authentication or privilege limitations exist.
- Cross-Site Scripting And Forgery. CSRF, also referred to as XSS, XSRF, Sea Surf or Session Riding, tricks a web browser into executing an unwanted action. When it works, CSRF can impact both the business and its use.
- URL Redirection To Untrusted Sites. Redirects can leave the door open for attackers to drive users of your application to an untrusted external site, creating security issues for your user and leaving your reputation at risk.
- Path Traversal. Directory traversal (also known as file path traversal) is a common vulnerability that allows a potential attacker to read files on the server that is running your application, such as code and data, credentials for back-end systems and sensitive OS files.
- Poor password policies. Brute force attacks do no longer try to attack an account with thousands of passwords. Instead, they try to login to thousands of accounts with two or three common passwords, like abc123 or your company name plus the year number, and it’s likely to succeed in most cases.
- Unused accounts: keeping inactive accounts enabled increases the attack surface. It’s important to disable or remove accounts of former employees or contractors.
Vulnerability assessment, scanning, penetration testing and patch management are important steps for controlling vulnerabilities. They should be conducting regularly, if not continuously.
Misconfigured web servers and applications make easy targets for hackers to exploit. Misconfigurations can happen at any level of the tech stack – from your web server to its database to your framework or virtual machines. Cybercriminals take advantage of security misconfigurations through unauthorized access to default accounts, rarely accessed web pages, unprotected files and folders, directory listings, etc.
There is a relatively high chance that some security misconfigurations exist in your system at this very moment. If you want to see how common they are, just see this white-hat hack of Apple from a few months ago. Businesses that use a hybrid approach of in-house and cloud environments can experience the highest level of risk exposure. Keeping a careful watch for security misconfigurations during the frequent updates is an essential factor for protection. Visibility and attention are key.
Common Types of Security Misconfigurations
These are some common misconfigurations that security and IT teams should be on the lookout for:
- Applications and products under production phase in debug mode
- Running unwanted services on the system
- No proper configuration for accessing server resources and services
- Leaving default keys and passwords as is
- Incorrect exception management—can disclose unauthorized data, including stack traces
- Using default accounts with default credentials
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