While programmers are among the smartest of folk, mistakes can happen during the coding process. These mistakes or “bugs” can lead to cybersecurity vulnerability exploitation by cybercriminals.
If a bug is exploited in a certain way, hackers can launch a slew of attacks to steal data or hold it for ransom. And once they launch an attack, it can be hard to defend against. You’re racing against the clock trying to get ahead of the hackers.
According to statistics by Symantec, an average of 4,800 website breaches occur every month. Worryingly, 71% are financially motivated. Data breaches increased by 68% between 2020 and 2021, and by another 38% in 2022. As incidences rise, the need for better security becomes more pressing.
We often take security for granted until it’s too late — but you can avoid learning things the hard way. Let’s explore the world of cybersecurity vulnerabilities including the most common types and how to prevent them.
What Is a Cybersecurity Vulnerability?
A cybersecurity vulnerability is a flaw or weakness in a computer system. Cyberattackers exploit these flaws to gain access to systems and steal data. If you look hard enough, you can usually find vulnerabilities in any type of software or hardware. They mostly result from poor design, coding errors, or configuration issues.
Vulnerabilities allow unauthorized access to systems, data, or networks. In some cases, cybercriminals use vulnerabilities to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Sometimes vendors find vulnerabilities and patch them before anything goes wrong. Other times, independent experts discover them and notify the relevant people about it. If a vulnerability is critical, experts who discovered it might disclose it publically. This raises awareness and prompts vendors to issue a patch.
The downside is it gives hackers time to develop exploit code. You can bet they’ll try to take advantage of the public notice and exploit the flaw before it’s fixed. For this reason, it’s important for organizations to roll out security patches before anyone else takes advantage of the bugs.
Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are a major concern for businesses and individuals alike. As long as people use computers and networks, vulnerabilities will arise. The sad truth is, it also means plenty of people will seek to exploit them.
What Is an Exploit?
An exploit is a computer program or code developed to take advantage of system flaws or vulnerabilities. People use exploits for malicious purposes like installing malware or gaining unauthorized access.
A vulnerability itself can be harmless provided it goes unnoticed by cybercriminals. But, if an attacker notices it, it becomes a problem. The unfortunate truth is hackers are getting better at exploiting every day.
It’s more important than ever for people to protect themselves against digital threats. Many of us use digital devices for sensitive activities, like banking, and they have a lot of personal information. If this information gets into the wrong hands, it can turn your whole life upside down.
Following a major breach, you’d likely have to call every subscription, financial institution, and platform to alert them and change your passwords. If you’re running a business, all of your data would be at risk and it could put you at a serious disadvantage.
Keep on top of your digital security by using a trusted anti-malware system and VPN. CyberGhost VPN protects your digital security, hiding your IP address and traffic so cybercriminals can’t find you online. Plus, our latest independent audit by Deloitte proved just how secure we really are. Get CyberGhost VPN to protect against identity theft and hacks.
10 Most Common Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
- Outdated Software
The most obvious way to protect your device is to keep its software up to date. Whether you’re using Windows, macOS, Android, or iPhone, updates contain security patches for bugs found in internal audits. By updating your device, you make it more difficult for hackers to target you.
- Firewall Weakness
A firewall is a network security architecture monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic. Based on defined security rules and criteria, a firewall decides to either block or allow traffic. It’s the first line of defense in virtual systems and private networks.
Imagine the network is a nightclub. In this case, the firewall would be the bouncers deciding whether you can enter or not. The security rules or inclusion criteria might be a dress code, so, if you’re wearing baggy sports pants and carrying a knife, you can’t enter.
- Unsecure APIs
Application program interfaces (APIs) are sets of rules allowing digital interfacing between programs or computers. Communication occurs over the internet or through a private network. If an API is insecure, it’s easier for hackers to infiltrate it. Then, they can gain access to computers, applications, and IP addresses communicating over the API.
- Zero-day Vulnerabilities
A zero-day vulnerability is a security flaw attackers are aware of before vendors. They’re named “zero-day” vulnerabilities because security teams don’t know about them, so they had 0 days to fix the bug. These vulnerabilities always have vendors falling behind cybercriminals in a race to patch before too much damage ensues.
A zero-day vulnerability in cybersecurity is particularly dangerous because the people most capable of rectifying the bug are at a disadvantage. Zero-day vulnerabilities are often only discovered after an attack — or not at all.
Since zero-day vulnerabilities are difficult to defend against, a solid prevention policy is the best measure. Regular internal and external auditing plays a key role in identifying bugs before hackers do.
- Poor Backup Protocols
For some organizations, data is key for day-to-day operations. For example, a business can’t sell to clients without access to its client list. Or, a university can’t continue researching without its hard-won data. For these types of organizations, ransomware can be a show-stopper — but not if it’s properly backed up.
If data is backed up, operations can continue as normal while the tech team deals with damage control and patches vulnerabilities. If data is important to your organization or job, make sure you’ve got a solid backup protocol to not get caught out.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least three backups. A mix between physical storage and cloud storage is ideal. You have to be prepared for mishaps to avoid letting them crash operations.
Misconfigurations occur when security settings aren’t properly configured and fail to protect the system. They’re the single biggest cybersecurity vulnerability for cloud-based systems and apps — attackers actively seek them out. Misconfigurations occur because of human error, which is why automating configuration can be an effective preventative measure.
- Weak Passwords
If you’ve ever tried guessing someone’s password, you might have realized it’s pretty much impossible to do. With too many variations to try and not enough time, it’s not a task worth pursuing.
But AI doesn’t have the same limited capacity as humans — yes, it’s terrifying.
Ever heard of a brute force attack? It’s when hackers use AI to crack passwords on a trial-and-error basis. Sure, it might take some time, but it’s infinitely faster than a human doing it.
- Lack of Awareness
The digital world is constantly evolving, and not everyone has high-end digital skills or knowledge. The landscape is significantly different than it was twenty years ago – back then, Yahoo & MSN were the main search engines. Even the young and tech-savvy find it tough to stay afloat sometimes. It’s not always possible to be aware of the newest scams, attacks, and vulnerabilities.
Delegating digital security to professionals can be a good idea. But, it’s important to know the company you invest in is doing everything it can to mitigate risk. Choose a company with a regular auditing and updating protocol.
CyberGhost VPN uses military-grade encryption to secure your information and mask your IP address. This makes it harder for hackers to get your data or infiltrate your devices, especially when you connect to free Wi-Fi. Try CyberGhost VPN risk-free with our 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Insider Attack
It’s scary to think someone within your organization is plotting to expose you to a cyberattack. But Statista reveals most cyberattacks are inside jobs — they make up about 60% of cyberattack incidents. Insider attacks are difficult to guard against, and it’s important to be thorough when vetting and monitoring employees.
By doing a rigorous background check and creating maximizing accountability, you can reduce the risk of an inside attack.
- Poor Encryption
If a network lacks strong encryption, it’s easier to leak sensitive data. While tough encryption won’t stop seasoned attackers, it does make a difference. It might be worthwhile researching your ISP to find out what encryption they use to protect your data. Take the time to shop around for the ISP offering the strongest encryption.
You can also use a VPN to encrypt traffic. The encryption hides your online activity and data, which means hackers have no idea you’re there — or what you’re doing. And even if they could access your data, they can’t read it because good encryption scrambles your traffic. Using a VPN also masks your IP address with one in another location, so it’s tougher for attackers (and websites) to monitor you online.
Cybersecurity Vulnerability Management Strategy
Vulnerability management is a dynamic process. You have to keep updating security to combat new threats. Cybercriminals always find new ways to exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities, so ongoing management is key. Below, I’ve outlined the five-stage cycle of cybersecurity vulnerability management.
- Assess: At this stage, you find potential vulnerabilities. To do this, it might be helpful to ask a trusted third party to stage a pseudo-attack. That way, you can identify the most obvious vulnerabilities and work on patching them.
- Prioritize: You might find more than one vulnerability and some will be more detrimental than others. Prioritize them in order of importance and work on the vulnerabilities posing the highest threat first.
- Act: Update security, fix bugs, and patch up the holes in your security system.
- Reassess: Once you’ve dealt with the vulnerabilities from your assessment, start a new assessment. You might find more.
- Improve: Never stop updating and improving your security system. The wicked don’t rest so neither can you!
If your work involves handling sensitive data, following this five-stage auditing cycle will help you identify vulnerabilities. It’s a dynamic process, so be sure to do it continuously!
Does CyberGhost VPN Have a Security Audit?
CyberGhost VPN undergoes regular internal audits by our highly competent tech team. We’ve also received an independent audit from Deloitte, a professional auditing firm that assesses security features for leading organizations.
CyberGhost VPN invited Deloitte to audit our services and provide an assessment of its findings. The aim of the scrutiny was to identify the validity of our claims and their feedback was positive. If you’re interested in seeing the full report, you can read more about the results here.
Special consideration was given to our No Logs policy and its implementation. This stops us from keeping any of your data or tracking what you do on our end. As digital privacy advocates, we genuinely care about your privacy and experience — our frequent transparency reports prove as much.
Why Choose CyberGhost VPN?
When you get a CyberGhost subscription, you’ll enjoy game-changing privacy and protection. Here’s how:
We use encrypted VPN tunnels to keep your internet traffic hidden. When you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, they keep you safe from shared-network attacks.
The AES 264-bit encryption limits what data websites can collect about you. It won’t stop all data collection, but you’ll be protected from deep-packet inspection — when a third party is trying to collect very detailed information about you. It also means your ISP can’t see what you’re up to online.
CyberGhost VPN releases transparency reports to keep you in the loop about threats and how we resolve them. We document what organizations request data from us, and, due to our strict No Logs policy, we don’t have anything to hand over.
The Battle Against Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are a plague on the digital landscape. Flaws themselves can be harmless, but when hackers exploit them to launch attacks, things get serious really fast. Vulnerabilities usually resort from human error. Whether it’s a mistake while coding, an inside attack, or social engineering, you can often link it back to a person.
It’s best to use dynamic management for vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. This is a cyclical process involving assessment, action, and reassessment. Since hackers never stop, we can’t either.
Enhance your cybersecurity by using CyberGhost’s military-grade VPN. It’s compatible with all devices, so you can stay protected on every gadget you own.
Connect with thousands of servers worldwide and enjoy 24/7 customer support. Try CyberGhost risk-free and don’t let yourself be vulnerable to attack.
According to cybersecurity statistics, insider attacks are the most common cybersecurity vulnerability. Making up about 60% of cybersecurity incidents, they require special attention to defend against.
To avoid this vulnerability in your organization, adopt a thorough vetting process and closely monitor employee activity. Download CyberGhost VPN to improve your digital security.
Like all security systems, VPNs can have security vulnerabilities, but especially free VPNs. That’s why it’s important for VPN companies to undergo regular auditing. This helps to identify potential vulnerabilities before attackers do.
CyberGhost VPN undergoes regular internal auditing and was independently audited by Deloitte, a global leader in auditing tech services.
While each organization’s method can be unique, cybersecurity vulnerability management should follow a five-stage life cycle:
These are the basic steps in security auditing. At CyberGhost VPN, we consistently practice this process as part of our regular internal audits.
The four basic types of vulnerability in cybersecurity are:
1. Network vulnerabilities: These can be physical or non-physical and occur in a network’s hardware or software, usually resulting in a security breach.
2. Operating system vulnerabilities: If an operating system is damaged or not up-to-date, it’s seen as a vulnerability in cybersecurity and may lead to infiltration.
3. Human vulnerabilities: Human errors are the main weakness in cybersecurity. People can make mistakes through coding or falling victim to social engineering.
4. Process vulnerabilities: These vulnerabilities arise from a process not being stringent and controlled enough. While difficult to define, process vulnerabilities are easy to exploit.
Yes, CyberGhost was audited by Deloitte, an international leader in auditing tech companies. The audit verified CyberGhost VPN’s No Logs policy, so you can feel safe knowing your data isn’t being stored. CyberGhost VPN also releases quarterly transparency reports to keep you up-to-date on our most recent security measures.
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