20 Jan What is the biggest vulnerability to cyber and information security?
Technology developments mean that the amount of data we generate is growing at an exponential rate. With this growth comes the increasing threat to our data. As we have so much digital information available to us, hackers and cybercriminals are constantly looking for opportunities to breach data security. With vulnerabilities in your technological systems, leaked or destroyed information can lead to loss of business revenue, client trust and reputational damage. These elements can quickly derail your company and the success you’ve spent years building.
It’s important to gain an in-depth understanding of your information security to ensure you know what to do if a breach occurs. Robust Cybersecurity and data protection solutions are critical at this stage to ensure you can restore your data back to its original state.
What is a vulnerability?
A vulnerability in cyber and information security refers to a weakness in the system that could lead to failure if exploited. Though a vulnerability exists, it won’t impact your system if a cybercriminal or attacker doesn’t take advantage of it. In order to fail, the vulnerability must be of accessible to an attacker that chooses to exploit the weakness, often for financial gain, but also to disrupt to business operation, or to cause economic damage. Though the phrases are often used interchangeably, a security threat differs from a vulnerability. A threat refers to an external act that intends to disturb your digital systems and data. This can include malware, phishing, spam, ransomware, and Trojans that infect your systems. A vulnerability is an internal weakness that can be present in key parts of your IT systems such as software and hardware firmware and it must also be remembered that users themselves can constitute a vulnerability. Here are three of the biggest vulnerabilities to your cyber and information security:
The end-user refers to your employees sat at the other end of the computer. Even with solid systems in place to secure your data as much as possible, a lack of awareness for how systems work and how to operate them is a significant risk. Carelessness over data confidentiality and technical functionality can expose your data to internal and external threats. As users frequently enter your business systems to access files and programmes, failing to apply access restrictions and limitations can compromise your IT systems. If your data is mistreated by an end-user, simply leaving a file unlocked or visiting an unsecured website can open your system up to attackers looking for ways to gain access to your IT systems and valuable data. The vulnerability users potentially pose isn’t just exclusive to external attackers – USB drives, laptops and other devices that aren’t encrypted can mean that files are unsecured and this can lead to opportunistic data theft.
Failing to update software
One of the biggest causes of cyber and information security vulnerabilities is that systems and software are not regularly updated. After implementing an application, system or device, updates are frequently issued by the manufacturer, and although they can distract us from our activities, they’re distributed for a reason and must be installed as soon as possible. Software updates can contain important improvements to the speed, functionality, performance, and security of your applications. The updates help protect your system from bugs, malware and attackers who are looking to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software, or code. If a cybercriminal becomes aware you’re using old software that has vulnerabilities present, it can effectively create a gateway for them to exploit. Continuing to input important data and carry out business-critical tasks on old versions of your software puts it at risk of a targeted attack. Hackers can enter your network and install software that steals your personal information and removes your control privileges.
Inefficient data backup and recovery
Cybercriminals prey on poor backups of data and lack of recovery software. Ransomware is becoming so advanced that failure to run regular backups that are stored securely can lead to losing access to your business’ digital information. Ransomware involves hacking an individual’s or businesses data and holding it ransom for a fee in return. Some attackers will erase this data completely if ransom is not met or if they’re feeling malicious. Without rigorous backups of your data, deletion or publishing will lead to severe data breaches that violate GDPR and company regulations. Automated backups with secondary or tertiary storage systems ensure you have multiple backups if a hacker gains access to your data. Testing the speed at which your backups can be recovered is the key to ensuring there is little downtime when an attack strikes.
While other important cyber and information security vulnerabilities exist, these are some of the most common issues that should be recognised by your business. It’s important to learn how these vulnerabilities occur and the solutions that need to be put in place to counter them.