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Hidden Vulnerabilities: Why Should I Care?

Woman monitoring a cyber security system

“Vulnerability” is a term packed with negative connotations. Being vulnerable is uncomfortable. Unfortunately, in the present era, digital vulnerabilities are widespread. Your devices have vulnerabilities – whether that be your personal devices, or your business devices. But what does this mean for your business, and what can you do about it?

vulnerability:

noun.

  1. Openness or susceptibility to attack or harm.
  2. Weakness in an information system, system security procedures, internal controls, or implementation that could be exploited or triggered by a threat source

What Are Vulnerabilities?

Sparing any technical jargon, vulnerabilities are holes in your computer systems that need to be patched.

Leaving these holes open makes the device or system susceptible to damage from threats. Fortunately, there are ways to fix this. Before exploring these methods, this article will look at the implications of vulnerabilities.

Implications of Vulnerabilities

In the instance of a hacker finding a vulnerability, it creates multiple opportunities for them to access your sensitive data. If they choose to exploit this weakness for malicious reasons, it can result in various forms of attacks against you.

In a business scenario where an exploited vulnerability has led to a data breach occurring, there are three areas of concern that are likely to arise.

1. Reputational Damage

Data breaches must be disclosed to customers, as their confidential information may be compromised. This leads to a lack of trust from the customers involved, and the public who may hear of the event.

An organisation’s reputation is arguably the most important asset that they have, and suffering damage to this can have debilitating consequences.

2. Financial Damage

  • Paying ransoms
  • Restoring systems
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Regulatory penalties

3. Operational Disruption

A business may not be able to run whilst compromised by a hacker. For ransomware attacks it can mean that all business operations are forced to halt whilst the issue is analysed and resolved.

All three of these damage points are intertwined, with issues in one area leading to issues in another.

It is evident that potential implications of a hacker exploiting a vulnerability are to be avoided whenever possible.

But how can it be avoided?

Importance of Vulnerability Management

Whilst establishing a network that is 100% secure is complex, effectively managing vulnerabilities remains a crucial step to achieving this goal. Vulnerability management refers to identifying, assessing and remediating vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities arise daily, so it is vital to be proactive in your cyber security approach. In light of this knowledge, a plan for managing vulnerabilities must be put in place which involves essential practices.

Best Practices for Vulnerability Management

  1. Regular vulnerability scanning. Daily scanning is the most optimal approach.
  2. Prioritising vulnerabilities based on severity and exploitation likelihood.
  3. Timely remediation of vulnerabilities.
  4. Continuously monitoring systems for new vulnerabilities and adapt your strategy accordingly.
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