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(also software weakness)

Vulnerability definition

A vulnerability refers to any flaw in an organization’s information system, internal control systems, system operations, software, or network that exposes users’ devices to the risk of hacker attacks. Vulnerabilities make it easier for cybercriminals that exploit them to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, perform malicious activities, or cause harm to users’ systems. Hackers use various methods to exploit vulnerabilities.

See also: SQL injection, cybercrime

Vulnerability exploitation

  • Cross-site scripting. Attackers use this method to inject malicious code into websites. The code then steals users’ data, such as financial information and login credentials.
  • SQL injection. By inserting malicious code, SQL injections try to access database information. Compared to cross-site scripting, this method allows cybercriminals to steal confidential information, impersonate identities, and engage in other types of harmful activities.
  • Security misconfiguration. Hackers can intercept security configurations so that the security system will face errors. Then they use the errors to create a data breach and steal sensitive data.
  • Cross-site request forgery. A Cross-site request forgery attack tries to persuade an authenticated user to do something they did not plan to. It can trick users into unintentionally giving an attacker their personal information.

Vulnerability causes

  • Complex systems. Complex systems increase the risks of unauthorized access and errors, making them more challenging to maintain.
  • Familiarity. Attackers can be familiar with specific types of code, hardware, operating system, and software, which makes it easier for them to interfere with users’ devices.
  • Connectivity. Devices that share data on one server are more likely to experience vulnerabilities because they usually have the same IP address.
  • Improper password management. Weak or frequent passwords can cause data breaches because they are easy for hackers to guess.
  • Flaws in operating systems. Unsafe operating systems may provide unrestricted access to users and be a target for viruses and malicious activities.
  • Bugs in the software. Programmers may sometimes leave a bug in the software that hackers can use to their advantage.
  • Unmonitored user input. If the software identifies that the user input is secure, attackers can easily inject SQL without users’ being aware.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security