Any managed IT services company will tell you about the importance of updating your software especially when most think of it as a chore. Understandably the update reminders and restarts prompts will come at a wrong time but it is essential that you adhere to them on a regular basis.
In light of the recent Petya and WannaCry ransomware outbreaks, keeping your software updated should be #1 priority for all at the moment. Clicking the “Remind Me Later” button may lead to software vulnerabilities – the exact reason which made the Petya and WannaCry outbreaks successful.
Software vulnerabilities are one of the key tools for attackers attempting to compromise individuals and organizations. The more outdated the software a computer is running, the juicier a target it is for attackers. What made them even more dangerous was the speed at which it spread. Gone are the days of infections only infecting the infected system – once infiltrated modern day malware turns itself to worms where they jump from system to system both in a private network environment and across the Internet.
Let’s delve into what vulnerabilities are and why people should pay attention to them.
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By definition a vulnerability is a flaw in software that allows hackers to exploit and do things the software wasn’t intended to do. Call it a hack if you want. Once an attacker has exploited a vulnerability, it can do anything from creating a denial-of-service condition to granting the attacker admin privileges. One of the most dangerous vulnerabilities are the ones which are remotely accessed meaning an attacker can carry out its attack from anywhere within the network or anywhere on the Internet.
One common way vulnerabilities are exploited are via exploit kits. Exploit kits are tools pre-installed on malicious websites which scan visitors’ computer system for vulnerabilities – a very common method used for email phishing. If it finds one, the exploit kit will then attempt to use it to install malware on the visitor’s computer. Exploit kit authors usually work alongside malware authors and rent their exploit kit service to malware authors.
The exploit used by Petya and WannaCry, known as Eternal Blue, was originally used by the Equation cyber espionage group and fell into attackers’ hands after it was leaked.
Many organizations and managed IT services companies will often delay updating software until they have had a chance to test the update. Why? In an environment where operations rely on multiple, complex software packages, sometimes fixing one thing can break another, and IT needs to check that any update doesn’t cause unexpected problems.
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Operating systems are the most popular targets for attackers as it has a higher success rate, especially Windows. By attempting to exploit a Windows vulnerability, an attacker can hope to get the “best bang for their buck” and hit the largest number of potential victims. Vulnerabilities are frequently found in Mac OS, the two main mobile operating systems — iOS and Android — and various flavors of Linux. Linux vulnerabilities can facilitate targeted exploits and may be used by attackers who are attempting to infect specific kinds of computers.
Browser plugins are also a prime area of interest for attackers because many plugins are cross-platform, meaning that an exploit will affect users of any browser using the plugin.
We urge everyone to avoid complacency. Think twice before clicking the “Remind Me Later” button or postponing a system restart as it might be too late to go back on your decision. A small bit of inconvenience in the present can save you from much more in the long run.
IntelliTeK is a managed IT services company in Sydney, Australia. With major vendor relationships and accreditation’s including WatchGuard, Microsoft, Trend Micro and Amazon Web Services, IntelliTeK have kept clients happy since 2007.
IntelliTeK are always up to date with the latest cloud backup solutions which is why we only partner with the best in the industry. If your company isn’t fully equipped to fend off cyber criminals, then get in touch with us so we can discuss your options. Call us on 1300 768 779, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, fill out the web form, or have a Live Chat with us below.