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The real cost of software vulnerabilities and how to avoid it

Vulnerable software has always been the Achilles’s heel of any system. Many small organizations believe they are perfectly safe because they’ve implemented a patch management plan, but a reactive approach has always proven to be a bad security strategy.

Software vulnerabilities are a big deal

In computer security, the term vulnerability is applied to a weakness in a system, which compromises its integrity. Vulnerabilities may result from weak passwords, software bugs or misconfigurations, a computer virus or other malicious software, to name a few.

Recently, a four-year zero-day vulnerability in the Linux kernel was discovered to give full control to tens of millions of Linux PCs and 66 percent of all Android devices. And this happened despite the fact that Linux is one of the most stable and secure systems used today.

At the other end of the spectrum, one of the most heavily-exploited programs is Internet Explorer. Over the years, it was plagued with many critical vulnerabilities, including remote code execution, elevation of privilege, information disclosure and security feature bypass. In 2015, Internet Explorer 9 through 11 ranked seventh among the most vulnerable software programs in use.

Cyber-criminals exploit these flaws to breach company systems and get hold of sensitive proprietary data which can be used for blackmailing purposes, to be sold on black markets or permanently destroyed.

And they are unstoppable. Finding zero-day vulnerabilities has become a multi-million dollar business. Not long ago, Forbes published a profile of a company called Vupen, whose business is selling zero-day exploits to governments and…anyone interested. They are willing to pay six-figure amounts for the most valuable ones.

The first thing you can do is acknowledge the consequences of running outdated apps:

  • System crashes and downtime, as you waste time fixing IT issues rather than focusing on your busines
  • Increased costs and decreased productivity
  • Exposure to cyber attacks
  • Permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information
  • Legal and regulatory compliance risks

Secondly, take action.

Why is a vulnerability assessment indispensable for the security of your corporate network? Well, vulnerability scanning means testing, identification, analysis and reporting of potential security issues on a network.

Running a vulnerability assessment may reveal:

  • Default easy-to-crack passwords
  • Rogue devices connected to your systems
  • Dangerous applications such as peer-to-peer apps or exploitable third-party apps
  • Potentially dangerous services
  • Faulty script configurations
  • Unnecessary open ports
  • Old user accounts

Here is simple attack scenario: the account of an old employee who has been fired is still active on your network. He remembers his password, logs in and deletes business-critical files to create chaos and revenge himself. This operation will cause hours of downtime, frustration for your IT team and financial losses, depending on your business activity.

A vulnerability assessment will bring these issues to light and help prevent them. With the help of automated tools such as network scanners, port scanners, IP scanners and network mappers, you will know your network assets and weaknesses.

The downside is that vulnerability assessment tools discover current vulnerabilities, but they don’t separate dangerous flaws from harmless ones. Here is where penetration testing comes in. Penetration testing doesn’t stop at uncovering flaws, it also exploits possible gateways of intrusion and measures the severity of each.

To find out the real-world effectiveness of your existing security controls against a skilled attacker, you need to understand his mindset. That is why hiring the right white hat hackers is crucial.

The benefits of vulnerability assessment and pen testing

When combined, the two techniques will offer you a more detailed view of the threats your applications face, enabling you to better protect systems and data from malicious attacks.

This way, you:

  • avoid costly security breaches and interruptions
  • prioritize security risks
  • meet regulatory requirements and avoid fines.

 How Cyber Secure accommodates these services?

Cyber Secure Ltd provides vulnerability testing, often working with awarded solutions to cover all angles of your network security. Order a pen test right now!