Hackers Still Exploiting Years-Old Vulnerabilities

Hackers exploiting old vulnerabilities

Written by: Jay H.

If it’s not broken, why fix it? That’s certainly the attitude of many hackers, who are successfully exploiting software vulnerabilities that are several years old and have security updates long available. These attackers then deploy ransomware on victim businesses ‘ networks, encrypting their data, and halting business operations.

Researchers at Qualys analyzed the most common Critical Vulnerabilities and Exploits (CVEs) used in ransomware attacks. They discovered that many vulnerabilities were years old and had software updates available. Yet many organizations still haven’t applied the updates, leaving them highly vulnerable to ransomware. If they had updated their software, it would have given attackers one area less vulnerability to work with and likely prevented the attack from happening.

Most of the 110 vulnerabilities researchers analyzed had security updates available. In fact, the average CVE has had a software update available for five years! The message is clear: Organizations need to prioritize updating their vulnerable software, especially on Internet-facing and critical assets.

Organizations Struggle With Patch Management

Despite the urgency to keep software up-to-date, most businesses struggle to uphold patch management. Keeping every machine updated every time developers release a security update is challenging. Companies not only have to identify vulnerabilities but also apply the fixes for them. And for small businesses without the budget for IT and security personnel, this is especially difficult.

Recommendations For Mitigating Ransomware Risk

There are many ways you can mitigate the risk of ransomware infections, including:

  • Use antivirus software at all times.
  • Keep your computer fully patched, including running scheduled checks to keep everything up-to-date.
  • Block access to known ransomware sites with security products.
  • Allow only authorized apps from trusted developers, like Microsoft and Google.
  • Restrict access to official networks from personally-owned devices.
  • Use standard user accounts versus administrative accounts whenever possible.
  • Use a backup system that allows multiple iterations of your data.
  • Have an incident response plan, including how to respond to ransomware.
  • Disable macro scripts.
  • Keep all system patches, meaning all devices facing the network. These include all hardware, mobile devices, operating systems, software, and applications.
  • Use a VPN or proxy when accessing the internet.
  • Apply the principles of least privilege and network segmentation.
  • Vet and monitor third parties with remote access to your network, including vendors.
  • Attend cybersecurity information-sharing programs and webinars and stay up-to-date on cybersecurity news.

Patching New And Old Vulnerabilities

So, there’s no doubt combating ransomware is a highly monumental task. However, you don’t have to take ransomware on alone. Businesses can significantly reduce their risk by partnering with a managed IT service provider such as Design2Web IT. Our managed IT services for small-medium firms include network security to keep your organization safe from attackers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your organization’s security strategy.

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