June 20, 2019

What Is a Configuration Vulnerability?

By Tobias Geisler Mesevage

Businesses of all sizes are at risk of a security breach. Aside from the risk to your brand, cyber attacks are costly to your productivity and incredible drains on your bottom line, with ransomware attacks projected to cost businesses $11.5 billion this year alone.

What is a security configuration vulnerability?

flaw in your security settings, like failing to auto-encrypt your files, could leave your entire network and every device connected to it vulnerable to an attack. Fortunately, configuration vulnerabilities are an easily preventable type of vulnerability in network security.

Web server and application servers are two entry points for configuration vulnerabilities in your organization’s network. According to the open web application security project (OWASP), these security vulnerability types happen through:

  • Improper file and directory permissions
  • Unpatched security flaws in server software
  • Enabled or accessible administrative and debugging functions
  • Administrative accounts with default passwords
  • SSL certificates and encryption settings that are not properly configured

Your organization can avoid all of these security vulnerability examples by conducting regular secure configuration assessments. Patching vulnerabilities is as important to organizations as patching holes in a boat. One or two small holes may seem inconsequential, but as time goes on they could be the thing that sinks you. Businesses owners take note: patch operating systems early and often.

What are the risks of a configuration vulnerability?

Every 14 seconds, an organization falls victim to a ransomware attack. That statistic alone should send shivers down your IT manager’s spine. Here are some of the global-scale victims of recent configuration vulnerability hijacking.

Earlier this month, OS giant Microsoft shared that a vulnerability in their Remote Desktop services that “requires no user action” to infect one computer after the next. Due to the worming ability, this cyberthreat could lead to an attack on the level of 2017’s WannaCry ransomware debacle.

Global aluminum manufacturing company Norsk Hydro suffered a ransomware attack in March of this year, causing some of their factories to halt production or switch to manual operation. This business continuity wrench could have cost millions in data loss, but –– thankfully –– Norsk Hydro uses a reliable, secure data backup platform to keep things running smoothly in face of critical attack events.

Cyber attacks at these massive organizations should serve as a warning that is no margin of error in cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently released recommendations for cloud-based Office 365 users, including using five-factor authentication and consistently examining security measures for areas of improvement.

Even small security vulnerabilities can lead to massive breaches.

How can you prevent a configuration vulnerability?

Here are some ways that small and medium-sized businesses can prevent security configuration vulnerabilities:

  • Update passwords regularly and use multi-factor authentication
  • Run security checks on third-party platforms
  • Ensure that all employees use the VPN if working remotely (not a random coffee shop’s WiFi -– gulp!)
  • Perform regular security protocol assessments
  • Don’t forget the physical layer –– keep laptops and other company devices safe from break-ins

Speaking sustainably, you cannot manually assess for configuration vulnerability on the daily. No IT manager should spend her time on that repetitive of a task. Instead, many companies are opting for cybersecurity automation through a data protection platform.

Your organization can rest assured that:

  • Files are auto-encrypted and backed up
  • Cyber threats are detected and deflected before they affect your operations
  • Security measures are tested from leading data cybersecurity experts

Security configuration vulnerabilities are only one type of cyber threat that lurks beyond your network’s safe limits. Take action to protect your files, your network, and your organization’s viability over the long-haul.

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