Data breaches continue to be a challenge for US companies. During the first six months of 2019, there have already been 4.1 billion records compromised. Email and password security are the top vulnerabilities.
There is more than one type of security vulnerability when it comes to IT in your office. Learn the various types and how to protect against them in this guide.
What is IT Security Vulnerability?
IT security vulnerabilities arise because designers and programmers don’t fully consider the security of the systems they create. The failure to design and engineer security into these systems leave them vulnerable to human error and criminal activity.
When a computer is connected to a network or the internet these weaknesses are exposed. They can then be compromised. The software and data can then be made available to unauthorized users breaking confidentiality obligations as well as the integrity of the system.
Impact of IT Vulnerability
The impact of breaches of IT security can be very significant. Some breaches can result in risks to the organization’s survival. They easily justify the need for a vulnerability management policy.
User information confidentiality may be a legal obligation. Breaking confidentiality can lead to substantial fines. It can also result in major reputational damage.
Undermining the integrity of the system is essential if data is to be relied on. A breach in security could mean that data is no longer reliable. This can undermine operations, customer service, and financial accuracy.
IT Systems operate to a large extent with automated diagnostics that produce alarms if actions are required. False alarms can disrupt operations and the efficiency of the system.
If the security of IT systems is breached it may be necessary to withdraw IT systems from use for a time. The availability of IT systems is necessary for most organizations to operate. Lack of continuity of service can disrupt operations and customer service, damaging the business.
Types of IT Vulnerability
A shortlist of IT security vulnerabilities can only illustrate the scale of risk. They do illustrate the importance of good software design, security habits, and user training.
A software bug is an error or mistake in a computer program. It produces an unintended or unexpected result such as an incorrect answer to a calculation or a failure in functionality.
It may be the result of a design flaw or a coding mistake. Sometimes bugs arise because of problems with operating systems or interfaces with other programs. Bugs can result in subtle effects that are difficult to detect or they can cause major malfunctions and system crashes.
The introduction of bugs into IT systems is a vulnerability in its self. Security bugs are a category of bugs which allow malicious users to avoid normal access controls. They can then acquire system privileges that enable them to further breach security.
2. Weak Passwords
Passwords are a key means of controlling access to IT systems. If passwords are not managed effectively this security measure is weakened. An example of poor password management is to allow weak passwords.
The strength of a password is increased by requiring it to be long, to have a mix of letters included different cases, and to include numbers and symbols. It is further strengthened by good user practice such as not using personal information such as dates.
Weak password controls and user practices such as writing down passwords, sharing passwords, and using personal information undermines password security.
3. SQL Injections
Web security is vulnerable to attack by malicious users who application code to gain access to a database. Once they have access to the database they can write, read, amend and delete data. They may do this simply to disrupt operations or to gain financially.
4. Broken Authentication and Session Management
IT systems rely on recognizing the identity of a user. This allows the system to provide appropriate access and system privileges to users.
Broken authentication and session management covers a range of security vulnerabilities whereby a malicious user can impersonate a legitimate user. By doing this they gain their access rights and system privileges. This may allow them to hijack an active web session.
If this web session provides access to a bank account they could withdraw funds. If it provides access to confidential information that could breach that confidentiality. It is access to system settings they could disable the system.
5. Upload of Dangerous Files
Dangerous files are ones that contain code that can cause harm. They may be programs that damage software or they may open up the IT system to further risk.
A typical example of malicious software or malware is one which replicates itself continuously. This can slow down computer systems to the extent that they become inoperable. Other dangerous files breach the confidentiality of systems by allowing malicious users to access data.
Dangerous files can be uploaded by users if they open files attached to emails. Protection against such vulnerabilities relies on effective virus and malware protection systems. These are only effective if routines and user training are effective.
6. Security Configuration Failures
Configuring web application can be a complex task. This task is further complicated by the number of interfaces between systems that typically exist. Failure to configure systems correctly can introduce security risks into the system.
This vulnerability is primarily a human one. Lack of training, carelessness or poor management can all conspire to expose the system to an IT security breach.
7. Cross-Site Requests and Forgery
Users may be tricked into giving somebody access to the functionality of a web site they have been authenticated against via a third-party website. This may provide the attacker with access to a bank account, social media or another web interface.
So-called, cross-site request forgery, is a powerful tool for the attacker. It can provide them with damaging access to data and systems. It relies on a vulnerability in web browser security and human error.
Preventing IT Vulnerability
Preventing IT vulnerability is about more than just preventing breaches of IT security. It’s about controls on data and maintaining the confidentiality of customer data. It can also be about ensuring business continuity.
Software security tools and services can go some way towards protecting against vulnerability. Effective systems management, back up and update routines and system monitoring are also vital. Analysis of the human as well as systems aspects of IT security vulnerability can lead to more effective strategies.
Talk to us about your security vulnerability here.