What is a Security Vulnerability?

March 7, 2019 Jerry Vasquez

Uptime, profitability, and resource management are all essential topics, and all of them need proper attention. In fact, most of these ideas are at the forefront of your mind all the time.

But what about security?

“Of course!” is usually the response.

Unfortunately, most of the time security is an afterthought or handled as a reaction when issues arise. Those of us in the industry know the truth: good security practices save resources before there’s an issue.

At Liquid Web, we’re here to help mitigate your security woes before they become a problem.

what is a security vulnerability

What is a Security Vulnerability?

So what is a security vulnerability?

Security vulnerabilities come in many forms, from lapses in procedure, to recently discovered, to zero-day issues.

Think of a security vulnerability as a crack. It may not be immediately visible. It may not be causing you issues right at this moment. You may not even know it exists.

But it’s there waiting to be exploited.

Most software developers don’t even know exploitable vulnerabilities exists. Hackers, on the other hand, make it a daily mission to look for possible entry points in standard operations so they can gain access to your systems and data.

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hacker exploiting security vulnerability

From a Security Vulnerability to an Exploit

The transition from security vulnerability to exploit, if done well, is often silent. Once access is gained, it’s in a hacker’s best interest to keep it hidden so they can continue to exploit as they please.

This usually includes removing or hiding logs and stopping reporting functions all while maintaining other running processes in working order. This approach gives them the time to use the system or its data as a perpetual resource and makes it hard to catch them.

There are many services, including Liquid Web’s Protection and Remediation product, which help to clean up after a malware or exploit incident, but wouldn’t it be better just to avoid the issue altogether?

Here are a few things that can be done to help avoid the long, costly, and often painful process of cleaning up after an exploit.

Managing Access

control who has access for security

Control Who Has Access

To stay in business, some people need access to systems. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. Just keep in mind who has access to which of those systems.

Granting everyone access to everything is easy: there’s no tracking necessary. But this is opening your world up to multiple vectors of unauthorized entry.

Only give people access if it’s required, map those users to the systems to which they have access, and keep it up to date.

Stronger Passwords

Passwords are another necessary evil. I would love to live in a world where I didn’t have multiple 12-character-long strings in my head and on my password manager, but that’s not the real world. The real world needs passwords, and it’s your job to make sure they’re secure.

Setup a password policy and enforce it.

General Security Practices

It’s hard to keep this type of stringent access in your visibility at all times, especially when you’re working from home or a coffee shop.

Just remember that people don’t need to hack into your secure systems to gain access. Just looking over your shoulder, listening in on a conversation, or pretending to be someone else is enough.

Keep your screen locked and ensure you have an authorization protocol that’s followed.

New Features and Security Updates For Software

Most malware entry points are found in out-of-date systems. In fact, most updates to software are about sixty percent feature updates and forty percent security updates.

That means, if you’re using outdated software, you’re easy pickings.

Check all your software systems and keep them updated.

report security vulnerability exploits immediately

Reporting Exploits Immediately

Time is money.

Truer words have never been spoken. And, in the case of an exploit, time is the most valuable resource you have. The longer a compromise goes, the more difficult and more expensive it becomes.

Don’t allow an issue to balloon simply due to lack of reporting. Have a mitigation plan in place and harp on reporting anything suspicious as soon as it’s noticed.

Security Vulnerability Scanning

Finally, let’s explore how we can mitigate an exploit before it’s an issue.

Liquid Web’s Vulnerability Assessment and Scanning runs thorough scans, from an external source, with the intent to discover known vulnerabilities.

The scans can be set up for any server with a public IP address, are scheduled once a month. Once completed it emails you a comprehensive and concise report on the findings. This allows you to patch the cracks before the security vulnerability becomes an exploit.

Security is also built-in. The scans, though external to your server, originate from servers on our network, so there’s no need to unnecessarily open your server to a foreign or third-party IP address.

You get the dependability of an external scan and the security of a local device.

Ready to Find Security Vulnerabilities?

While you get your mitigation plan, password policy, access control, and software updated, let our Vulnerability Assessment and Scanning get started on finding any security vulnerabilities – before they become exploited.

The post What is a Security Vulnerability? appeared first on Liquid Web.

About the Author

Jerry Vasquez

A self-professed pirate captain with two decades of leadership experience, Jerry has lead teams from 60+ cooks and chefs to 16 Networking engineers in his current role as Liquid Web's Head of Network Operations and Platform. When not working or sleeping, Jerry can usually be found eating and having a good conversation with good people.

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