In the world of cybersecurity, a vulnerability is a term to describe a weakness that opens up an opportunity to be exploited by cybercriminals to gain unauthorised access to a computer system. After exploiting a vulnerability, a cyberattack can install malware run malicious code as well as steal sensitive data.
Vulnerabilities are open to exploitation by a variety of ways including SQL injection, buffer overflows, cross-site scripting (XSS) and open-source exploit kits that look for known vulnerabilities and security weaknesses in web applications.
Many vulnerabilities impact popular software, placing the many customers using the software at a heightened risk of a data breach, or supply chain attack. Such zero-day exploits are registered by MITRE as a Common Vulnerability Exposure (CVE).
There are currently more devices connected to the internet than ever before. This is exactly what hackers want to hear, as they make good use of hardware like printers, cameras and televisions that were never designed to avert advanced invasions. It has led companies as well as individuals to reevaluate how safe their networks really are.
As the amount of these incidents increase, we must likewise increase the way we classify the dangers they may pose to businesses and consumers alike. Two of the most common terms thrown around when discussing cyber risks are vulnerabilities, risks and exploits.
It is important to note that vulnerability and risk are not interchangable, even though cyber security risks are commonly classified as vulnerabilities.
Think of risk as the probability and impact of a vulnerability being exploited.
If the impact and probability of a vulnerability being exploited is low, then there is a low risk. Inversely, if the impact and probability of a vulnerability being exploited is high, then there is a high risk.
A vulnerability with at least one known, working attack vector is classified as an exploitable vulnerability. The window of vulnerability is the time from when the vulnerability was introduced to when it is patched.
If you have strong security practices, then many vulnerabilities are not exploitable for your organisation.
For example, if you have properly configured S3 security, then the probability of leaking data is lowered. Check your S3 permissions or someone else will.
Likewise, you can reduce third-party risk and fourth-party risk with third-party risk management and vendor risk management strategies.
Vulnerability management is the process of identifying, evaluating, treating, and reporting on security vulnerabilities in systems as well as the software that runs on them. When implemented alongside with other security tactics, this process is vital for organisations to prioritise possible threats and minimise their “attack surface.”
This process needs to be performed constantly when keeping up with new systems being added to networks, changes that are made to systems, and the discovery of new vulnerabilities over time.
The vulnerability management process can be broken down into the following four steps:
At the heart of a typical vulnerability management solution is a vulnerability scanner. Vulnerability scanners are able to identify a variety of systems running on a network and cross-check their attributes against a list of known vulnerabilities.
After vulnerabilities are identified, they need to be evaluated so the risks posed by them are dealt with appropriately and in accordance with an organisation’s risk management strategy.
Once a vulnerability has been validated and deemed a risk, the next step is prioritising how to treat that vulnerability with original stakeholders to the business or network. There are different ways to treat vulnerabilities, including remediation, mitigation or acceptance.
Vulnerability management solutions typically allow exporting and visualising vulnerability scan data with a variety of customisable reports and dashboards. This helps teams understand which remediation techniques are most effective, monitor vulnerability trends over time and helps support organisations’ compliance requirements.
Gridware is proud to be a thought-leader in cybersecurity, creating and leading conversations in this space. Check out a selection of our published work from our Sydney based Cyber Defence Centre (CDC), and learn how our cyber expertise has led to partnerships with leading Australian Universities.
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