In this blog, we will describe the six most common vulnerabilities that every cyber security professional should be aware of.
Knowing most common vulnerabilities is essential because it helps individuals and organizations better understand the risks associated with common security vulnerabilities so that they can take steps to mitigate those risks.
Additionally, understanding common security vulnerabilities can help organizations identify potential threats and take steps to prevent or defend against them.
1. Unpatched security vulnerabilities
An unpatched security vulnerability is a flaw in a system or piece of software that attackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access or cause other malicious activity.
The term “unpatched” means that a patch (a software update that fixes the security flaw) has not yet been released or installed.
One of the most popular and known malware that took advantage of an unpatched security flaw is WannaCry.
WannaCry is a ransomware that encrypts a computer’s files and demands a ransom be paid in order to decrypt them.
It took advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system that had not yet been patched. The result was a global outbreak that affected hundreds of thousands of computers in over 150 countries.
2. Unvalidated and untested inputs
A serious flaw is feeding unvalidated user input directly into web application functions, such as search results, comments, and user information.
If inputs are not validated or tested, it can allow malicious users to exploit vulnerabilities in the system.
This can lead to data loss, corruption, or theft, as well as denial of service attacks.
Attackers can access and manipulate data entered into web applications through user input, such as via SQL or script injection.
3. Broken authentication and session management
These are weak and easily guessed passwords, session ID vulnerabilities, and cookies that are either easily guessable or stolen by third-party attackers.
If authentication and session management are not implemented properly, it can lead to security vulnerabilities.
Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information or to take over user accounts.
For example, they can use brute force attacks and try to guess passwords by trying out different combinations of characters.
Attackers can also use session hijacking to steal session cookies and use them to impersonate legitimate users.
Man-in-the-middle attacks can be used to intercept communication between a user and a website and also eavesdrop or tamper with the data.
4. Insecure communications
Using outdated or unsalted encryption methods, not verifying SSL/TLS certificates, and not verifying message integrity can also lead to vulnerabilities.
Insecure communication can be exploited by eavesdroppers who can listen in on the conversation or by attackers who can intercept the communication and read its contents.
A famous attack that used insecure communication was the leaking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails in 2016.
The emails were intercepted by hackers who were able to read their contents and then release them to the public. This caused a major political scandal and led to questions about the security of email communications.
5. Security misconfiguration
These are weak passwords, easily guessable default accounts, and leaving servers and applications publicly exposed without protection.
One of the famous misconfiguration attacks, Heartbleed, is a security vulnerability that allows attackers to access sensitive information from a server that is using the OpenSSL protocol.
This information can include user passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data.
The attack exploits a flaw in the way that the OpenSSL protocol handles data, which makes it possible for attackers to gain access to this sensitive information without needing to login into the server or decrypt any data.
6. Broken access controls
These arise due to granting users too much access, misconfigured role-based access controls, and lack of least privilege.
The most famous attack which used privilege escalation is the Stuxnet worm. This worm exploited a flaw in the Windows operating system to gain elevated privileges.
It then used these privileges to spread itself and damage industrial equipment.
7. Insufficient logging and monitoring
Not tracking activity or knowing what has happened in the past makes it difficult to determine what is happening on the systems today and makes it more difficult to find and fix issues.
8. Backdoor Applications
Sometimes administrators install applications for remote service or monitoring.
Once compromised, these programs can do anything the attacker wants, including recording your keystrokes, taking screenshots, or stealing your personal information.
To protect yourself from these types of attacks, you should only install programs from trusted sources, and pay attention to what permissions the program is asking for.
If a program is asking for more permissions than it needs, it may be up to no good.
9. Insecure direct object references
The insecure design of the application can lead to access control issues, thus allowing unauthorized access to the information.
This includes granting access to objects based on user-supplied input. In this situation, the attacker can tamper with the application to bypass the access control check.
Common vulnerabilities are the major threats to the security of any organization.
To mitigate these, it is important to train employees about it and implement strong security measures in place.
This includes things like secure coding, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and strong passwords.