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Understanding Security Vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities, Threats and Exploits

Understanding Security Vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities, Threats & Exploits

Australian companies face an average loss of $30,000 per cyber attack.

In cybersecurity, a vulnerability refers to a weakness that exposes a computer system to potential exploitation by cybercriminals, granting them unauthorised access. Once a vulnerability is exploited, cyberattacks can implant malware, execute malicious code, and pilfer sensitive data.
Vulnerabilities can be exploited through various means, such as SQL injection, buffer overflows, cross-site scripting (XSS), and open-source exploit kits, which search for known vulnerabilities and security flaws in web applications.

Numerous vulnerabilities affect widely used software, significantly increasing the risk of data breaches and supply chain attacks for many customers relying on such software. These zero-day exploits are registered by MITRE as a Common Vulnerability Exposure (CVE).

BE PREPARED: Understanding the Potential Threat to Your Business

With an ever-growing number of devices connected to the internet, hackers find ample opportunities to exploit hardware like printers, cameras, and televisions that were never designed to withstand sophisticated invasions. Consequently, both companies and individuals must reassess the security of their networks.

As cyber incidents rise, it becomes crucial to accurately assess the dangers posed to businesses and consumers alike. Two common terms often discussed in the context of cyber risks are vulnerabilities and exploits.

Distinguishing Between Vulnerabilities and Risks

It is essential to recognise that vulnerabilities and risks are not interchangeable, even though cyber security risks are sometimes referred to as vulnerabilities.
Risk can be understood as the likelihood and impact of a vulnerability being exploited.

When the probability and impact of a vulnerability being exploited are low, the risk is also low. Conversely, when the probability and impact of a vulnerability being exploited are high, the risk is likewise high.
Identifying an Exploitable Vulnerability

A vulnerability that has at least one known, functioning attack vector is classified as an exploitable vulnerability. The window of vulnerability is the period between when the vulnerability is introduced and when it is patched.

Implementing robust security practices can make many vulnerabilities non-exploitable for an organisation.
For instance, appropriately configuring S3 security can significantly reduce the probability of data leakage. Regularly checking S3 permissions is crucial to avoid potential data breaches.

Similarly, employing third-party risk management and vendor risk management strategies can help mitigate third-party and fourth-party risks.