8 Types Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

8 Types of Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Cyber security vulnerabilities refer to any weaknesses in an information system’s security procedures and internal controls that threat actors can exploit to gain unauthorized access. Examples include unpatched operating systems with flaws as well as weak credentials due to poor password hygiene among employees.

These vulnerabilities may lead to data leakage or breach. It’s important to keep in mind that vulnerability does not always equal risk.

What is Cyber Security Vulnerabilities?

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are weaknesses in devices or systems that allow cyberattackers to gain entry. These could range from poorly protected wireless networks to misconfigured firewalls that don’t secure the whole network effectively.

Vulnerabilities may also occur when software applications fail to receive updates with patches for any updates available, leaving the OS and devices running those apps vulnerable to attack – sometimes across their entire networks.

Cybercriminals take advantage of device vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information. To mitigate the risks associated with this, organizations should implement and execute a patch management strategy in order to install software updates as soon as they become available, training employees on cybersecurity best practices, and decreasing the number of vulnerable devices within their ecosystem.

Vulnerability Vs. Cyber Security Attacks

Vulnerabilities are weaknesses that cybercriminals and hackers exploit in order to gain illegal entry to an organization’s digital infrastructure. Vulnerabilities may take the form of physical devices like routers and switches, software applications like operating systems or web browsers, network configuration issues such as misconfigured firewalls or human error such as weak passwords or lack of security awareness training.

There has long been an ongoing discussion surrounding whether known vulnerabilities should be made public, with those supporting immediate disclosure citing its benefits as faster patching and increased software, information system and operating system security. Conversely, those opposed believe doing so increases chances of exploit by attackers and may harm business operations – and must also remember that vulnerability and risk do not mean the same thing.

Difference Among Vulnerabilities Threats and Risk

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are flaws that make it easier for threat actors to gain entry to networks. They may result from human errors, misconfiguration of internal controls or software and hardware malfunction.

Risk can be defined as the probability and impact of an attack. To effectively calculate it, it is crucial to distinguish between vulnerability, threat and exploit.

Threats are forces that create risk by exploiting vulnerabilities, with hackers exploiting such flaws to bypass security measures and steal sensitive data. Vulnerabilities may arise due to human, process or technical error – for instance when users open email attachments containing malware or leave their laptop or mobile phone unattended – creating vulnerabilities exploitable by threat agents for attacks like phishing, ransomware and SQL injection.

Causes of Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities arise from various issues. They could include missing software updates or network misconfigurations; attackers often target these types of system errors as potential entryways to gain unauthorized entry to networks.

Some experts advocate disclosing all known vulnerabilities publicly so as to slow or stop cybercriminals; while others believe limited disclosure reduces the risk of exploitation.

Process vulnerabilities occur when procedures designed to protect data fail, like when users fall prey to phishing attacks or fail to maintain good password hygiene. Other sources of vulnerabilities may include system complexity, which increases the chance of flaws, misconfigurations and unwanted network access; increased connectivity such as when employees use personal devices on work networks; or poor access control measures which grant some users more access than they require to data and hardware.

8 Types of Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities in hardware, software or processes that hackers exploit in order to gain entry. They should not be confused with cyber threats which aim to exploit such vulnerabilities to cause harm and harm others.

Complex systems and increased connectivity increase vulnerabilities due to an increase in flaws, misconfigurations or unwanted network access. These flaws could be exposed by unpatched software or overly permissive account settings that allow for uninvited network access.

1. Zero Day

Experts refer to this form of cyber security vulnerability as “zero-day threat.” Once an attacker exploits such vulnerabilities, they can use them to steal data or compromise systems before software developers detect it and devise a patch solution – giving attackers an edge both in terms of scope and effectiveness of attacks.

Zero day vulnerabilities refers to software flaws which have yet to be fixed by their vendor and which haven’t been reported by researchers, malicious actors, or users themselves. Once discovered by hackers or researchers they might choose not to report it and instead sell it on an underground market for other criminals to exploit.

Zero-day vulnerabilities allow attackers to steal sensitive data, compromise systems or launch denial of service (DDoS) attacks against target organizations. For instance, Stuxnet used four Windows zero-day exploits to compromise control systems at an Iranian nuclear reactor while WannaCry and Petya ransomware outbreaks were both caused by zero-day vulnerabilities.

2. Remote Code Execution RCE

RCE cyber attacks provide attackers with total control of compromised devices, making them one of the most devastating types of vulnerabilities.

An attacker can exploit remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities found in web applications, operating systems and various software programs to execute arbitrary code. The consequences of such an attack can be severe; ransomware uses RCE vulnerabilities to lock victims out of their files until payment is made; it also used for theft, financial fraud and Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS).

Hackers use various techniques to carry out RCE attacks, including injection and deserialization vulnerabilities. Sanitizing and validating user input are effective strategies for mitigating these vulnerabilities, while appropriately managing memory can also help.

Injection attacks occur when applications accept user-controlled data directly into queries and commands that are then executed by them, including using functions for evaluating code like PHP’s eval function to evaluate code. Deserialization vulnerabilities enable attackers to embed malicious code within serialized data strings that then get read by target programs for interpretation, leading to remote code execution (RCE). Buffer overflow attacks are another means by which attackers may perform RCE attacks.

3. Unpatched Software

Cyber attackers rely on exploiting software vulnerabilities found in popular applications to launch attacks against victims. Software vendors typically discover, report and address these vulnerabilities through patch updates; however, IT teams often struggle to keep pace due to limited time or logistical considerations.

Tenable’s research indicates that, in 2022, long-standing vulnerabilities that had already been remedied were exploited more frequently than newly disclosed or critical vulnerabilities, showing the importance of patching as part of any cybersecurity strategy – thus justifying organizations prioritizing rapid deployment of patches on systems which are exposed to internet-facing attacks.

Human vulnerabilities arise when security procedures that were intended to secure systems fail, such as an employee opening an email attachment containing malware or using weak passwords. Such vulnerabilities pose risks for all types of businesses and should therefore be managed as part of any comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

4. Misconfiguration

Misconfiguration flaws allow attackers unauthorized access to system data and functionality, leading to either data breaches or complete system compromises. Unfortunately, security misconfigurations often go undetected until it’s too late; their impacts include financial costs from remediation efforts, regulatory fines, or compensation paid out to affected parties.

Security misconfigurations may receive more press than software vulnerabilities; however, they remain an important cause of cyberattacks and data breaches. They occur when security settings, permissions, and configurations are improperly specified – leaving systems, applications, or devices open to attack from cybercriminals.

Examples of misconfiguration include forgetting to turn off verbose debugging for production environments (which occurs frequently), leaving default accounts with standard passwords active, and not encrypting sensitive data stored in databases or cloud storage.

Other examples of misconfigurations include failing to update security tool signature files regularly and missing new malware variants; as well as failing to secure an application’s private API or server directory – factors which landed misconfiguration on OWASP’s list of the Top 10 Web Application Security Risks last year.

5. Credential Theft

Vulnerabilities give cybercriminals an opening to attack your business, typically by bypassing security controls, gaining unauthorised access or performing other forms of theft or misdeed.

An attacker employs phishing techniques to obtain sensitive data such as login credentials. Once obtained, this data may be sold on the dark web or used to launch further attacks; this type of attack is known as credential harvesting and it can have devastating repercussions for a company’s reputation.

Attackers have exploited numerous vulnerabilities to obtain passwords and other sensitive data that they use for phishing attacks, brute force attacks or selling on the dark web. Furthermore, attackers use this data to exploit other vulnerabilities or systems.

Attackers can exploit numerous vulnerabilities to access sensitive data, including code injection and OS command injection, which allow them to exfiltrate information or take over systems. Furthermore, attackers can utilize LDAP query injection in order to manipulate Lightweight Directory Access Protocol queries in such a way as to gain entry and exfiltrate sensitive files.

6. Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized access occurs when someone gains uninvited entry to a system, application, data, or network without authorisation – one of the most prevalent cyberattacks that can have devastating effects for its victims ranging from data breach and financial losses to service outages and critical system disruption.

Unauthorized access attacks use various attack methods, but generally involve exploiting weaknesses in an organization’s IT infrastructure and bypassing security measures. Attackers might employ Wi-Fi eavesdropping to steal passwords or personal data or send phishing emails purporting to come from banks in order to trick users into providing sensitive data or following instructions they believe come from them. Furthermore, SQL injection is another strategy attackers employ in order to gain entry to databases.

As long as vulnerabilities remain unused, their risks may seem minimal, but that depends on both the likelihood and impact of being exploited. A data breach, for example, can have lasting repercussions including lost business opportunities and reputational harm; ransomware attacks could likewise render systems unusable until payment has been received in order to recover data stored therein.

7. Out-of-date or Unpatched Software

Outdated software or applications expose organizations to significant risks. Cyber attackers exploit them, using outdated applications or programs as leverage against organizations by taking steps such as stealing information or installing malware onto systems or networks. One way of mitigating such vulnerabilities is through regular monitoring and applying updates/patches as soon as they become available.

Hackers continue to find new ways to breach computers, yet companies continue to release patches to close these security holes. But these solutions only work if applied as promised – many data breaches occur due to outdated software left untouched.

Mirai Botnet in 2016 exploited out-of-date vulnerabilities in Internet of Things devices to exploit out-of-date vulnerabilities; while Stuxnet used out-of-date versions of Windows to disarm Iran’s centrifuges. As one of the easiest and most effective cybersecurity measures, keeping IT systems updated should always be top priority – however this often isn’t done consistently, leading to data breaches or cyberattacks.

8. Malicious Insider Threats

Malicious Insider Threats occur when current or former employees pose a cyber security risk to an organization. This could include disgruntled workers seeking revenge, former colleagues still possessing access, or an outsider looking for ways to steal trade secrets or other forms of sensitive data.

These types of attacks have become an increasing risk in today’s Internet-of-Things environment, where physical systems are connected to the cloud and can be controlled remotely from an attacker. An attacker could use any data breached from an organization as leverage against these linked systems.

malicious insider threats typically seek financial gain or revenge; other motives could include boredom, ideology, or political allegiance. Other motivations might include wanting to sabotage cybersecurity measures, gain access to sensitive data for sale or other illicit use, or further an attack plan by accessing privileged IT systems – this type of cyberattack can often be difficult to detect and stop. Negligent insiders pose additional threats as well; for instance when employees download pirated software containing malware and backdoors onto company computers–exposing networks against external hackers.

Final Thoughts

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are holes in an organization’s information systems, security procedures or internal controls that cybercriminals can exploit to access confidential data and gain entry. Once in, hackers may take the data either for sale on the dark web or ransom payments or sell it back outright to another entity.

Software bugs, system complexity and human error all pose vulnerabilities to systems. Users could fall prey to phishing attacks or practice poor password hygiene that exposes them to malware.

Lack of monitoring network anomalies, such as communication between systems that shouldn’t interact or unnecessarily high outbound traffic. A CISO can mitigate these vulnerabilities through effective subnet and outbound monitoring solutions, and improving network segmentation strategies.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.