In its widest definition, the term "vulnerability" refers to a breach of a security policy. This might be due to lax security policies, or it could be a fault with the program itself. All computer systems, in principle, contain vulnerabilities; whether or not they are severe depends on whether or not they are utilized to cause system harm.
Many attempts have been made to define the term "vulnerability" and differentiate the two meanings. MITRE, a federally financed research and development organization in the United States, focuses on analyzing and resolving major security concerns. The group developed the following definitions:
MITRE's CVE Terminology states:
A universal vulnerability is a situation in a computer system (or group of computers) that is either of the following:
- Enables an attacker to execute commands as another user allows an attacker to access data that is not subject to the data's defined access restrictions
- Allows an attacker to appear as another entity to launch a denial of service.
MITRE also argues that when a weak or unsuitable security policy makes an attack viable, this is best characterized as 'exposure'.
Exposure is a situation in a computing system (or group of systems) that is not a general vulnerability but is one of the following:
- Allows an attacker to execute data collection activities.
- Allows an attacker to conceal operations contains a capability that functions as anticipated but is readily compromised, is a key point of entry that an attacker may seek to exploit to obtain access to the system or data is seen as a concern under some acceptable security policy.
- An intruder often conducts a normal scan (or investigation) of the target, collects any 'exposed' data, and then exploits security policy flaws or vulnerabilities.
Types Of Vulnerabilities
An operating system is vulnerable when weaknesses are found in the design and execution of an information system.
Here are their types -
These help the hacker inject malicious codes as a query or command that will make the victim device perform unexpected orders. In this one, an attacker can access your sensitive data without permission.
- Broken Access Control
Broken User Restrictions can lead to a serious software vulnerability. For instance, if you do not have secured restrictions over the admin panel of your website, an attacker can easily control the delicate data by taking advantage of the Vulnerability.
These are related to design flaws that comprise of lack of -
- Modeling Threat
- Design Pattern Security
- Reference Architecture
Exploitation Of Vulnerabilities
In simple words, a burglar uses tools to get into a victim's house to steal. Similarly, a hacker creates a new computer program after finding a vulnerability in your operating system and will get inside the machine with its help to control it.
These attackers work by finding new loopholes in your security system, mainly through inadequately secured network connections that give them a way to know your computer. Once they attain touch with their targeted system, their increased control over it can provide them access to the machine.
The easiest way to gain control over a device is through the internet. However, in recent times, everything works over an internet network connection which is not adequately secured and can lead to malicious software intervening.
One of the most popular targets of hackers nowadays is web browsers which, when connected to the internet, can give entry to operate small programs. This creates a door for them to have initial control over your device, which can turn out to be pretty harmful as that can give a way to intrude into your sensitive and personal data over a larger network.
Most of the time, these vulnerabilities are found by researchers and developers themselves, and other times by the customers. When such a thing happens, it turns out to be a blessing for the users as alerts are generated, and fixes are discovered before anyone can face the harmful effects of these errors.
If not this way, hackers find the vulnerabilities in your software and get access. These are known as "zero-days," as the company has no time to rectify these shortcomings. As an outcome, your data gets jeopardized before a patch can be built and circulated.
How To Prevent Software Vulnerabilities?
Here are some preventive measures for software vulnerabilities
- Updating your Software
One of the best ways to protect your system is by updating your software whenever an update is available to install.
- Test your Software
This is one of the most efficient ways to prevent any Vulnerability. You need to run a test over your software now and then to ensure that the software weaknesses are eliminated. You can do this with the help of a static code analyzer - like Klocwork.
- Using Coding Standard
OWASP, CWE, and CERT are some coding standards that allow you to avoid, inspect and remove vulnerabilities.