A Hackers Arsenal: What You Need to KnowFrom social engineering to code exploitation, a hacker will use any available flaw in a system that they can to access data.

As a business it's important to be aware of the exploits commonly used by intruders, and how to avoid holes in your security. In this article, we hope to shed light on some of these common vulnerabilities, and how you can avoid them in your business.

Black hat hackers

A black hat hacker is an intruder who attempts to access or modify data that otherwise wouldn't be available to them through exploitation of common computer vulnerabilities.

Of course, most businesses use a sophisticated security system which is nearly completely secure, however black hat hackers will exploit the security gaps that human error can give - a technique known as social engineering.

Social engineering

Social engineering is the process of extracting information through many vulnerabilities given to a system through its human input. For instance, someone haphazardly checking connections to a server might not notice an unusual connection, resulting in a malicious entry point to the system. Laziness can result in many gaps in security, as can trust itself - a trusted employee of a business could, in time, develop a workaround for security and access restricted data. Elements like this can only be controlled by vigorous monitoring of user activity and ensuring that no user reveals anything known about the system. furthermore, as much as kindness is a great attribute for an employee to have, it can be a vulnerable point of security - an employee whose kind and trusting of a person easily might disclose a small piece of information that points to a flaw in the system, posing a threat.

A common middle ground of a malicious attack is to use both social engineering and a software attack, using the social development to get a malicious application onto the system. An example of this could be an employee receiving a seemingly innocent email with an attachment that appears to be a document, but in reality, is a malware program that infects the companies network. This document is opened by the employee as they might trust the sender through what they've said or done, resulting in a malicious attack.

Ransomware, and malware

Two common types of malicious software commonly found come under two different categories - ransomware, and malware. Ransomware is a software that can restrict and encrypt data on a network, making it inaccessible unless you can unlock that data, and demand something in return for permitting access to this data again. Although commonly an issue on personal systems, if a company is infected with this kind of software it can have catastrophic consequences in data loss and expenses to retrieve the data.

Malware is the more common tool of a hacker. As it encompasses a lot of different types of malware that do different things, this kind of software can be much more difficult to treat and identify, as it can go unnoticed for some time. It's main objective in most cases is to either execute malicious actions on a system, embedding itself into files in some cases corrupting them or stealing data, or to silently extract information from the computer system. An example of a 'silent' form of malware is a keylogger, which can steal your information by reading keystrokes entered on a computer - meaning that sensitive information could be taken from a business with nobody knowing.

The most effective ways of dealing with any kind of malicious software is to run a trusted antivirus that is regularly updated on the entire system, with some form of real-time protection enabled so that a problem can be quickly isolated.

Keeping up to date

As well as the common issues regarding human error, there's one key element that can be completely fatal to a systems security - patches, or updates. As there is so many people actively looking for exploits in security systems, it's common that one will be found at a specific time, disclosed to people and promptly fixed by the security provider. The fix however, needs to be applied through an update to the software, which in most cases is done automatically but can be turned off and handled manually by a team.

It's a company’s responsibility to ensure that their system is up to date, and therefore missing a vital patch can be completely fatal to the integrity of a network, with hackers quickly exploiting the known bug to launch an attack. Although a seemingly simple issue to solve, there has been countless times where an exploit is discovered and quickly used on a network, meaning that avoiding this issue involves strict monitoring of activity, and attention to what the supplier of the security has to say.

By IT Force.