A vulnerability is any weakness in an Internet-connected system that can be used to launch and deliver a successful cyber attack. In most cases, a vulnerability in a cybersecurity system is either a flaw, a feature, or caused by user error.
Cybercriminals can use any of these weak points to infiltrate a company's cyberspace and access its data without authorization. A flaw is where a feature or function does not operate correctly.
It could occur during the design and implementation process and go unnoticed for a significant amount of time until a cyber attack occurs. Cyber attacks that exploit flaws are often successful because they are unexpected and unforeseen. However, the company has not included steps to mitigate such an incident in its incident response program.
Features refer to functionality that can be misused. For example, cybercriminals could use certain features to breach a system, obtain data or gain control of the system. Features are parts of programs or systems that aim to enhance user experiences. However, when used in a cyber attack, attackers use them to obtain unauthorized access to a company's cyberspace.
User error is one of the most common ways threat actors gain access to a company or individual's cyberspace. The most robust and secure system could be breached if users fail to practice cybersecurity awareness and safety.
Users could, for example, fail to change default passwords, use weak passwords, or leave their laptops or mobile phone unattended and unlocked. They could also make people vulnerable to installing malware or fall victim to phishing.
How Do I Know If My Data System Is Vulnerable?
You can run a vulnerability assessment to establish whether your data system is vulnerable. This is sometimes called a vulnerability scan and assesses Internet-connected networks and computer systems for weaknesses that could lead to data breaches.
Cyber security vulnerability scans are an excellent vulnerability detection starting point to identify where attackers might exploit a system. Although a vulnerability assessment can be run manually, it is a good idea to automate it regularly. Any identified vulnerabilities can then be addressed timeously.
Ethical hacking is one form of vulnerability assessment and vulnerability detection. Here the company employs ethical hackers to try to hack its systems. This way, a company can identify areas vulnerable to severe cyber attacks. For example, ethical hackers could identify injection attacks, broken authentication, sensitive data exposure, the use of components with known vulnerabilities, and security misconfigurations.
Once an ethical hacker (or hackers) has tested a system, they will compile a thorough report detailing potential vulnerabilities. Companies can then work with cybersecurity experts to address these vulnerabilities.
What About Phishing
Phishing is a cyber security threat and/or vulnerability. The threat comes from threat actors that could target individuals to gain sensitive information. These individuals cause a vulnerability in a system because they could provide attackers with a point of access for a data breach.
What Is the Best Way to Monitor and Contain My Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities?
Once identified, companies should work to secure and eliminate any cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Any known vulnerability needs to be monitored if this cannot be done. Additionally, companies should closely watch any weak points (or known vulnerabilities) in their systems to respond quickly and manage incidents that can not be prevented or mitigated.
In most cases, vulnerabilities caused by flaws or features of a system can be mitigated. User error, however, is more difficult to contain. Companies can monitor this vulnerability by ensuring staff adheres to good cyber security awareness practices. Educational programs should be held regularly, and users should be encouraged to change passwords often.
You could also implement some automated vulnerability management practices.
What Are the Best Management Practices to Handle Cyber Vulnerabilities?
It is not always possible to anticipate and mitigate every cyber vulnerability. Here are a few things you could do to handle cyber vulnerabilities in your company:
- Plan and establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- Understand and prepare for your elastic attack surface.
- Build your Vulnerability Management Database.
- Have up-to-date Threat Intelligence.
- Use automation.
- Have thorough reporting practices.
- Prioritize vulnerabilities based on how big a risk they pose.
- Use a risk management system to manage cybersecurity risks instead of only relying on managing vulnerabilities.
Can Risk Reduction Defend Against System Vulnerabilities?
While risk reduction is a good practice, it cannot wholly defend a system against vulnerabilities. Risk reduction focuses on reducing any cybersecurity risks (including operational risks) posed by real current and potential vulnerabilities. They do not mitigate system vulnerabilities entirely.
How Can RiskRecon Help Me?
Managing vendor cyber risk through periodic assessments is insufficient. A lot can happen between assessments, even if they are conducted annually. Critical vulnerabilities in vendor environments could go unaddressed, exposing your dependent operations and data to compromise.
RiskRecon's continuous monitoring capabilities can help organizations identify and better manage cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Contact us today to see where potential system vulnerabilities may exist within your system by taking advantage of our 30 Day Trial.