4 min readBy Published On: February 23, 2023Categories: Cybersecurity News

How to secure your IT systems in 2023

The first step towards understanding cybersecurity is knowing basic terms like bugs, vulnerabilities, and exploits. 

A bug is a software error that causes systems to function unwantedly. Software vulnerabilities are bugs that hackers can use to launch a cyberattack, whereas an exploit is a malicious code used to take advantage of the vulnerability. 

Let’s understand software vulnerabilities and exploits in detail, their differences, and how businesses can secure their IT systems from these security issues. 

What is a software vulnerability?

A software vulnerability is a bug in your IT system that cybercriminals can leverage to undermine your cybersecurity defences. 

Say your website has an input field wherein users can upload unvalidated files. Hackers can take advantage of this vulnerability by uploading an executable code file that executes instructions to give them access to database credentials. Other common software vulnerabilities include system misconfiguration, flaws in an organisation’s codebase that are yet to be discovered (zero-day vulnerability), out-of-date software, poor data encryption, and missing authorisation credentials

What is an exploit?

An exploit is a medium used to take advantage of a software vulnerability for launching a cyberattack. Examples of exploits include open-source exploit kits, malicious code, and a series of commands. 

Say you don’t have a strong password for admin access to your website. A cybercriminal can use a brute force tool to find your admin login information and gain access to confidential information. Here, not setting a strong password is a vulnerability, and the brute force tool is the exploit. 

There are two main types of exploits: zero-click exploit and pivoting. A zero-click exploit includes exploits that don’t require user interaction, such as clicking on phishing links, to take advantage of a vulnerability. Pivoting refers to using a compromised system to launch a cyberattack on other systems on the same network. 

Software Vulnerability vs. Exploit: Key Differences

A vulnerability is a flaw in a software program, whereas an exploit is a way cybercriminals leverage the vulnerability to launch cyberattacks. The major difference between software vulnerabilities and exploits is an organisation’s ability to curtail these security issues. Companies can scan and fix software vulnerabilities before cybercriminals use them as a weapon. On the other hand, once successful exploits cannot be reversed; security teams can only reduce the damage done by exploits. 

Top 5 Ways to Safeguard Your Organisation From Exploits in 2023 

Apart from primary security practices, including installing a firewall, using DDoS protection, running dedicated private networks, setting strong passwords, etc, you must also employ these safeguards to keep your IT systems immune from cyberattacks: 

1) Build your security systems using CIA principles 

You should follow CIA principles—Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability—while you build your information security systems. In practice, CIA involves keeping your data secure using encryption, gated access, strong passwords, etc; ensuring your data is not modified; and your data/service is always available for authorised users. 

2) Scan your codebase before deployment using static analysis tools 

Static analysis refers to examining your codebase using automated tools before deploying the application. It is a proactive method to fix software vulnerabilities, performance issues, outdated programming constructs, etc. Static code analysis reduces the burden of your security teams by automating mundane code scanning. 

3) Battle test your IT defences with red-teaming

Red-teaming involves hiring engineers to launch attacks on your IT systems while your security teams will simultaneously attempt to defend against the attack. This practice helps you to simulate a cyberattack scenario and test your preparedness against such attacks. You can outsource penetration testing to experts using a reliable managed service provider. 

4) Monitor your IT systems 24/7 

Installing continuous IT monitoring systems will help you proactively fix security threats before it amplifies and harms your business operations. 

5) Buy cybersecurity insurance 

As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, there is no guaranteed immunity to shield your IT systems against cyber intrusions. An IBM report suggests that the average cost of a data breach in 2022 is a whopping 4.35 million USD. Cybersecurity insurance will help you cover such financial losses if your business is affected by a cyberattack or data breach. In addition, ransom payments, lawsuits, regulatory fines, revenue loss, etc., can be covered by cybersecurity insurance, depending on the terms of the agreement. 

Get a 360-degree security cover for your business! 

With cyber crimes expected to increase significantly in the following years, securing your business is more important than ever. SMB Solutions provides Managed Services for end-to-end cybersecurity. We cover all your security needs, be it securing your network from DDoS attacks, installing dedicated firewalls, or proactively scanning your network for security vulnerabilities.

Get in touch today to learn more about our tailor-made MSP packages to suit your business!

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