The Evil Trinity: Vulnerabilities, Exploits, and Threats
With the changing environment everything is becoming complex than ever. With more and more devices getting connected via internet , hackers have more devices to exploit and access user’s data. As a matter of fact, no device is safe from such attacks. So, what can we do to keep our data safe and lower the risk? We need to have knowledge about things that can pose a threat and stand up strong against them.
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The main objective of any business or user is to protect their digital assets by taking necessary security measures.
Protect Your Assets
Assets are things that have a value, we can broadly divide it under 2 categories. Tangible assets like: servers, database, the network that provides connections and many more. Other fall in the category of intangible assets but have more value like: personal and private information. Therefore, to secure our assets we need to understand how attackers work and what all they have to use against us.
In respect to cybercrimes three are three essential terms we need to understand that we hear almost every day: vulnerabilities, exploits, and threats. In this article, we will discuss them and how they pose danger.
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Before we go deep into the topic, let’s know how it all started.
This started with an Application Program Interface (API), a software which comes in different forms and provides guidelines about how a program should interact with network and system hardware. In simple words, API is the interface that allows users to give commands to a particular software.
A vulnerability, is nothing more than a flaw or an unintended API which helps attackers to exploit the asset. It exists in the system, once detected by the attacker is used to identify what they can get away with before an outbreak. Attackers use this API to give instructions to the software to collect user’s data, security defenses and much more.
How hackers know about the vulnerability?
Vulnerability scanner makes it easy to detect susceptible in API’s. When an API is parsed through the scanner it identifies the weak API’s that pose threat to system security. Hackers collect this data and store it in a vulnerability database which can be used to spot potential victims and to design a more accurate attacks.
Once a vulnerability is reported hackers perform various tests to see how they can exploit it. API alone is not responsible for a vulnerability; many other factors also add on to it. Configurations of a software, hardware or social account, privacy settings all matters a lot. This all make your system security either weak or strong.
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It is the next step in hacker’s playbook. Once a vulnerability is found it is used to exploit the unintended API, whether documented or not. Exploits are used to gain financial information, to track user’s activity and other details. If an exploit is able to bypass a firewall it becomes more dangerous, as it is hard to sport such exploits. They cause severe damage when go undetected.
Hackers can install a malware that will sit in the system and will wait for the weakest point to come. Say, when you connect your system with an unsecured network it then exploits the vulnerability to hack data and perform other malicious tasks.
If an exploit is detected at the initial stage it can be easily dealt with, but if it sits in your system for weeks then it becomes difficult to detect and handle both the vulnerability and exploit.
A threat is the outcome of both the stages. When the hacker uses both vulnerability, and exploit to make a move and to get a rewarded. A cybercriminal can easily make multiple exploits once he knows what he will be rewarded with.
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All this can be taken care of if the vulnerability was detected by the software developer rather than the hacker. There has been no risk of the threat, a knowledge about what is a vulnerability, how it can be exploited and the outcome can save us. This all will help to make an action plan that can help us take necessary security measures in time.
Risk of getting infected with a malware cannot be eliminated but prioritizing the things can help to reduce threat level. No machine is hacker proof it is the knowledge and security management which can tell what will be next level of the game that we are playing.