Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Common cybersecurity vulnerabilities and how to fix them

In the past two years, we’ve seen a swift turn to remote and hybrid work models. Recent findings show that data thefts welcomed that shift and took advantage of businesses’ vulnerabilities and gaps in security.

On a global scale, cyber vulnerabilities are the biggest concern for companies in 2022. The risk of data breaches, ransomware attacks or severe IT outages worries organisations even more than businesses, supply chain disruption or a global pandemic, all of which have brutally affected firms in the past years.

This post will focus on the most common cybersecurity vulnerabilities and how they can impact affected services. Then, we’ll discuss several basic strategies for remediation.

Issue 1: Software supply chain vulnerabilities

Now more than ever, software dependencies are pervasive. Companies are massively reliant on hundreds of open-source dependencies – 203 per repository on average– with functionalities that the company itself doesn’t write. Recent data hints that 99% of codebases contain open-source code, and nearly 97% of business codebases come from open-source (code that you didn’t write). Such vulnerabilities in your open source or third-party dependencies, which apparently you can’t control as tightly as the code you wrote, create considerable potential security risks.

Supply chain vulnerabilities are rare but real. This happens when malicious code is purposefully integrated into a component that distributes the code to its targets.

Supply chain attacks are as real and scary as possible. The most common forms of attack involve directly inserting malicious code as a new committer to taking over someone’s account without noticing or compromising access points to distribute software that isn’t officially part of a component. But rarely is a mere supply chain attack the end goal for hackers. In fact, they see it as an opportunity to insert backdoors for botnet access or malware for crypto mining.

The good news is that you can spot and remove these vulnerabilities using vulnerability detection and an automated code-scanning solution.

Issue 2: Cross-cloud compromise

Cloud attacks explore vulnerabilities in cloud services and servers, like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Services, Microsoft Azure, and any other cloud computing service.

Cloud assets are massively exposed to cybersecurity threats because they’re often poorly patched, misconfigured, or use weak authentication, making them an ideal target for cybercriminals. But that’s not all. Cloud services also have wide-ranging permissions that endow attackers with access to an abundance of data, workloads, and other critical assets. In turn, they can easily compromise a business network infrastructure and cause irremediable damages from a single breach. 

Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming even more dangerous. According to LegalExpert.co.uk, multiple cloud infrastructure breaches occur due to “inadequate security practices within companies’ cloud configurations.”

Cloud attacks are more common than ever, showing no signs of slowing down. At the same time, cloud-reliant organisations worry about their security, but they do nothing to impede these risks.

To avoid common cloud attack patterns, businesses must first understand what cloud threats are and how to stop them.

Issue 3: Too many permissions and access vulnerabilities

The most critical vulnerability takes place when all of the service’s stack components are weak. This places application permission on top of the vulnerability list.

The solution? By strongly regulating access to the system and permissions for performing specific actions, you can avoid potential security threats. The more administrative access rights the staff has, the larger the vulnerable attack surface.

The “least-privileged” concept enabled through role-based access control or Identity, and Access Management has become a prerequisite in today’s business environment.

While employing the principle of least privilege throughout your business processes is critical, its integration should first focus on a company’s development team. If the least privilege becomes a critical part of your business’s critical processes, it is more easily applied to interaction across services and systems.

Issue 4: Poor network monitoring and segmentation

Many security attacks rely on inadequate network monitoring and segmentation to gain full access to systems in a network’s subnetwork. This vulnerability has been no stranger to large enterprise networks in the last three years. In fact, it has further encouraged the stubbornness of the attackers to compromise new systems and maintain access for longer periods of time.

The main cause of these attacks is a lack of subnetwork monitoring. In larger companies, a lack of monitoring outbound activity is a challenging initiative, as thousands of systems communicate within the same network.

To fix this, businesses should carefully monitor network access among systems within these subnetworks and focus on creating better detection and alerting strategies.

They should also focus on unjustifiable DNS lookups, odd behavioural trends in network traffic, and system-to-system communication with no apparent use.

Issue 5: Zero-day exploits and mass vulnerabilities

Attackers rely on security flaws in widely used software to access endpoints around the world. Today, applications and digital data are imperative for nearly every aspect of a business. Only last year, the average number of SaaS applications each business uses has reached a staggering 110 apps. For hackers, uncovering vulnerabilities in any of your organisation’s SaaS apps isn’t difficult.

In fact, we’re aware of the fact that criminals will leverage zero-day exploits and mass vulnerabilities to infiltrate your network, install malware, steal credentials and data, and then expand their reach to execute commands.

With more and more software vulnerabilities and code libraries, mass vulnerability abuse peaked in 2021 and is expected to continue in 2022. To reduce the risk of an attack, organisations should first require their software vendors SBOM (Software Bill of Materials). This inventory presents all software components and codebases: from open-source software, vendor agents, packages, APIs, SDKs, and everything used in a software program. Having this information at hand will ensure companies know what’s in their environment, helping them respond swiftly in the event of a mass exploit.

As the cyber threat landscape changes, so should organisations in need of protecting critical business assets and ensuring continuity. Of course, they should know that effective risk management strategies will keep them ahead of the cybercriminals.

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