What is a Vulnerability and Why Should You Care?
Information Security is a critical aspect of protecting the data, processes, and communication of your company. Your company practices Information Security techniques every day in many ways, which likely include:
- Typing in a password in order to access data
- Procuring backups of your data in the event of a disaster
- NOT sending sensitive information over e-mail
However, these practices are not enough to mitigate many of the risks involved with safely and securely operating your business. Even with dedicated internal IT staff, effectively securing your networks and infrastructure requires specialized knowledge and services that goes well beyond normal system administration.
According to PWC, in 2015 there were 38% more cyber-attacks detected than the year before. The average cost of each individual record in an attack involving a data breach was $158, with an average total cost per data breach of $4M. Cyber-attacks are on the rise, and it is imperative Information Security services are improved proactively in order to prevent your company from becoming a statistic by addressing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
What is a Vulnerability?
A vulnerability is something that can be used to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an information resource. ISACA defines a vulnerability as:
"A weakness in design, implementation, operation or internal control”
A vulnerability could range from a misconfigured setting to poorly written software; an unlocked door to even a critical server that shares a circuit breaker with a microwave oven. Vulnerabilities can be anything that prevents you from accessing your information systems, allows unauthorized access to information systems, or causes unknown changes to information systems. Vulnerabilities are common, requiring persistent and routine review in order to effectively mitigate. One common example is missing patches. Software developers routinely find bugs in their products that require releasing patches and updates. If those patches an updates are not regularly installed, your information systems can be exploited using the vulnerability that the patch fixes.
What Does This Mean for My Business?
Vulnerabilities are an issue that can wreak havoc in any business, of any size, at any time. Globally, cybercrimes due to vulnerabilities costs businesses $375-$575 billion annually and causes a net loss of up to 200,000 jobs in the U.S. alone. Customers are less willing to work with a company that has been breached, even if that breach occurred on account of a product failure that was no fault of your own. Your employees will encounter a plethora of issues trying to get their jobs done as your IT team scrambles to implement new security measures and recover lost data. None of these scenarios bode well for your business.
How Can I Effectively Mitigate Vulnerabilities to Protect My Business?
Eliminating vulnerabilities is not a one-and-done approach. Eliminating every single vulnerability is often not feasible, and some vulnerabilities must be accepted rather than remediated. New vulnerabilities present themselves daily, so routine, daily remediation is critical. By identifying vulnerabilities on a routine basis, you are able to remediate vulnerabilities and minimize security risks to your information systems and company.
There are several third-party tools available for running a vulnerability assessment on your network. However, without the specialized Information Security resources or staffing in place, you should consider outsourcing this assessment to a qualified Managed IT Services Provider (MSP). An MSP with cyber security experience can provide a thorough assessment, help you remediate existing vulnerabilities, and provide routine monitoring and remediation for new vulnerabilities as they arise.
When you know what’s at stake, it’s up to you to smartly manage your business, employing measures that better mitigate the risks of vulnerabilities. An MSP can provide the oversight and expertise to keep out vulnerabilities that can steal your data and disrupt your information resources. Your business relies on secured resources; make sure you’re doing everything in your power to keep your investment safe.