Top 8 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability is a weakness in an application, system, process, or person that an attacker can exploit. If an attacker takes advantage of this vulnerability, it could have significant negative consequences for an organization, its employees, and its customers.

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The Threat of a Vulnerability

While a vulnerability is a potential risk to an organization, it does not pose a threat to an organization in and of itself. A vulnerability only becomes a problem when it is exploited. This exploit may be performed intentionally by an attacker or unintentionally by a legitimate user. For example, a buffer overflow vulnerability that leads to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack could even be triggered by a cat walking across a user’s keyboard.

Regardless of how it is exploited, a vulnerability poses a significant threat. Vulnerabilities can lead to data breaches, malware infections, and a loss of critical services.

The Importance of Identifying Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability is a future threat to an organization’s security. If an attacker identifies and exploits the vulnerability, then the costs to the organization and its customers can be significant. For example, data breaches and ransomware attacks commonly have price tags in the millions of dollars.

Identifying vulnerabilities before they are exploited by an attacker is a much more cost-effective approach to vulnerability management. The sooner that vulnerabilities are identified and remediated in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), the lower the cost to the organization. This is one of the main reasons why many organizations are working to adopt DevSecOps and shift security left initiatives.

Top 8 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities come in various forms, but some of the most common types include the following:

#1. Zero Day

A zero-day vulnerability is one that was discovered by cybercriminals and exploited before a patch was available. Zero-day vulnerabilities like Log4j are often the most famous and damaging vulnerabilities because attackers have the opportunity to exploit them before they can be fixed.

#2. Remote Code Execution (RCE)

An RCE vulnerability allows an attacker to execute malicious code on the vulnerable system. This code execution can allow the attacker to steal sensitive data, deploy malware, or take other malicious actions on the system.

#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 before processing leaves these applications vulnerable to attack.

#4. Unpatched Software

Software vulnerabilities are common, and they are corrected by applying patches or updates that fix the issue. A failure to properly patch out-of-date software leaves it vulnerable to exploitation.

#5. Unauthorized Access

It is common for companies to assign employees and contractors more access and privileges than they need. These additional permissions create security risks if an employee abuses their access or their account is compromised by an attacker.

#6. Misconfiguration

Software commonly has various configuration settings that enable or disable different features, including security functionality. A failure to configure applications securely is a common problem, especially in cloud environments.

#7. Credential Theft

Cybercriminals have different means of stealing user credentials, including phishing, malware, and credential stuffing attacks. An attacker with access to a legitimate user’s account can use this access to attack an organization and its systems.

#8. Vulnerable APIs

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

How to Protect Against Vulnerabilities

Some of the ways that companies can help protect themselves against attack include the following:

  • 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 where the company is most likely to be attacked.
  • Access Control: Many vulnerabilities arise from weak authentication and 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 types of attacks can be identified and blocked by cybersecurity solutions such as firewalls or endpoint security tools. Deploying a comprehensive, integrated security architecture can reduce the risks posed by vulnerabilities.

Secure Your Business from Vulnerabilities with Check Point

Companies face a variety of cybersecurity threats, and understanding these risks is vital to protect against them. To learn more about the current state of the cyber threat landscape, check out Check Point’s 2022 Cybersecurity Report.

Check Point can help you identify the vulnerabilities in your applications and help identify solutions. To start, sign up for a free Security Checkup to identify the main threats in your organization’s IT environment.

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