Cyber Security Most Important Cyber Security Vulnerability Research Paper

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Cyber Security

Most Important Cyber Security Vulnerability

One of the most important and common cyber security vulnerability is the maintenance of hardware as well as software. Weak maintenance, which is not up-to-date, can allow a number of problems in terms of security as the servers are exposed to major cyber security threats such as SQL injection, cross site request forgery, cross site scripting and remote file include among others. Developing and maintaining a server with weak update schedules can allow even the novice hackers the opportunity to obtain the confidential information of the users or developers. But if the same vulnerability is exploited by an expert hacker, it can lead to severe problems even for the top businesses worldwide. In essence, weak coding would enable hackers to access company information from the server without the knowledge of the owner. This can lead to the stealing of funds, selling of information to third party and access of secret information by a rival (Swan, 2013).

It has also been stated by Swan (2013), that human element is the biggest vulnerability faced by cyber security. He has pointed out that negligence on the part of developers and IT experts is one of the main reasons that consumer as well as corporate information is at risk in the modern world. Lapses during the development of security protocols and firewalls for servers lead directly to improper protection. As mentioned earlier, it causes the exposure of digital information to hackers. In other words, the most important cyber security vulnerability is due to un-patched computers (PC World, 2009). The example of such a server can be taken here, which has not been updated for a few years and is keeping records of an investment firm. In this case, vital information of the clients as well as records of the company is left in the open for hackers to collect and exploit. In addition to that, competitors can also use foot printing to obtain vital data and use it against the same firm.

The report published by SANS Institute regarding the important cyber security vulnerabilities confirmed that out-dated hardware along with un-patched applications is the largest security vulnerability in the modern pc era (PC World, 2009). The reason for this is that as the hardware becomes old, various exploits become available for hacking it. Similarly, scheduled updates of software would protect it from external threats but this practice is not too common in the industry.

Due to the irregular updates regarding hardware and software, those systems which are connected to the internet are always going to be exposed to cyber crimes. Household consumers also fail to realize this threat. All the consumers, from corporate sector to households, have one element of avoiding such vulnerability under their control and that is update of hardware on a proper schedule. The second element is the duty of the software developers. But the issue these days is that neither the consumers nor the developers are too keen on rectifying this problem. This is the reason that update of software and hardware has become such a major vulnerability in the cyber security.

The security risk varies from user to user. This is due to the fact that some businesses and consumers rely heavily on digital avenues for maintaining their data while others use it sparingly. Nevertheless, whatever information is stored in cyber space; it is exposed to security risks due to the un-patched hardware as well as software (PC World, 2009). Internet surfing is one of the major sources through which systems are infected. Users tend to visit websites that are infected without any knowledge. Similarly, they download files and videos from sites they trust but they are actually injecting viruses into the un-patched and unprotected systems.

Significance:

Lin (2006) has stated that unpatched systems are a danger to the integrity of servers, thus affecting the privacy as well as reliability of important data. He continued that a number of organizations are over reliant on the functions of computers and they have to face the weaknesses faced by them. Thus, it can be argued that firms with limited resources would find it considerably difficult to avoid attacks on their servers due to insufficient protection to their systems. The aforementioned vulnerability has forced almost every organization to designate a dedicated IT department for maintaining and developing computer systems.

Establishment of a separate IT department has become so significant that even small firms are striving to create and retain dedicated personnel in order to keep their cyber security up-to-date. This argument has also been supported by Symantec, who have stated that unpatched operating systems have holes in their security protocols (Lin, 2006). These holes are the most common pathways for breaking into networks and obtaining vital information.

According to Sans (n.d.), a computer, which is unpatched both in terms of hardware as well as software, can only survive online for about four minutes from external threats. The report also stated that unpatched systems take longer than four minutes to download important system patches from the software or operating systems manufacturers. In other words, unpatched systems remain exposed to external threats worldwide and their time of survival from external threats is four minutes on the average. Taking into account the above statement, it can be understood the importance that update of computers has with regards to cyber security.

The above phenomenon has been termed as "Survival Time" by Sans (n.d.). Therefore, those computers which are susceptible to attacks cannot survive even for the duration in which patches are downloaded from the internet. Addressing this issue is quite complicated as patching systems on a timely basis is costly as well as time consuming. However, ignorance on the part of businesses in this regard has led to serious repercussions. This is why it is taken very seriously by the corporate sector worldwide.

When we think of cyber security, vulnerability in the systems of financial firms comes to mind. In this regard, Cole (2012) has stated that financial firms are faced with the most risk in the vulnerabilities of cyber security. He stated that such firms store confidential data relating to the finances of the investors and the data pertaining to the firm itself. This type of information is highly susceptible to cyber attacks. Due to this issue, financial firms are one of the leading businesses, who have invested heavily for protecting their networks.

Similarly, governments are also investing quite heavily in the IT sector in order to ensure that information regarding state secrets is safe from national as well as international threats. The main objective of investing in developing and maintaining computer solutions is attaining protection against such threats (Cole, 2012). The above discussion explains just how significant the vulnerability of unpatched systems is to corporate as well as household users.

Impact:

Corporate sector is arguably the most affected category by the vulnerability of unpatched systems. The reason for this is that businesses require serious protection against external interference through the servers as they contain vital data in the form of company secrets and financial information of shareholders. Such data can be easily abused if it falls into the wrong hands. Thus, the corporate sector has been investing heavily in readily improving their security through efficient updating of their servers, websites and database (BITS, 2011).

The overall corporate sector is at risk due to the loopholes in their digital repositories but the major impact, as mentioned earlier, is on the financial services sector. This sector stores such data digitally, which is directly responsible for a number of issues including theft of credit card information and selling of financial information by hackers to rival businesses (BITS, 2011).

Information of such nature can be extracted through the internet in a number of ways. They include the use of malware injection through a website, email and/or direct intrusion of the hacker into the system through a remote network of the local network (BITS, 2011). Thus, unpatched systems leave the digital repositories of corporate sector with serious vulnerability as they are exposed if proper measures are not taken against the ever evolving threat of information theft through the internet.

The use of infected software and viruses to intrude in the private computers has been common for quite a while. Unlike corporate sector, the users can prevent issues pertaining to unpatched systems through storing their vital information manually. However, in the current modern era, the thought of dealing with personal data manually seems a daunting task and this is the reason that household users are faced with the same issues as the corporate sector. The main difference is that household users are risking only their own information through unpatched systems but the corporate sector is faced with protecting their own as well as the shareholders' information.

Recently, one of the largest personal computers manufacturers, Apple admitted that its operating system has serious problems with malware (Daily Tech, 2012). More than 600,000 users of Apple's operating system were reported to suffer due to the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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