F-Secure reveals top two ways most companies breached


Johannesburg, 07 Nov 2019
Read time 4min 00sec

Companies are always looking for the new technology that will protect them from cyber attacks, with most companies getting breached through one of two ways, according to F-Secure experts. However, neither of these ways has anything to do with zero-day vulnerabilities, which, the experts say, receive much more attention than they’re due.

“From our investigations, we know that most companies fall victim to attackers either because of unpatched software with known vulnerabilities, or because of the human factor, for example, people falling victim to phishing e-mails,” says Janne Kauhanen, cyber security expert at F-Secure. Kauhanen says that in essence, all other security measures are just secondary measures designed to catch attacks that happen because of these two reasons. “And still, companies are fixated on zero days and the newest methods of attack, which are often fairly restricted and obscure.”

A new security vulnerability is identified every 90 minutes,* and several thousands of vulnerabilities are disclosed every year. On average, it takes 103 days for a vulnerability to be remediated.* In contrast, according to Gartner: “The time it has taken from a patch coming out to when an exploit appears in the wild has dropped from 45 days to 15 days during the past decade.”** Gartner notes: “On average, vulnerabilities that are exploited at day zero (aka with no knowledge of the vendor or no prior remediation being available) are about 0.4% of total vulnerabilities each year during the past decade.”**

The massive WannaCry crypto-ransomware outbreak is the most recent example of a known vulnerability being exploited to great effect. The outbreak, which has infected systems in dozens of countries and impacted a wide range of sectors, including transportation and health services, is based on a Windows Server Message Block (SMB) vulnerability, MS17-010, that had been patched by Microsoft in March. The spread of the worm would have been reduced had more systems been kept up to date. Telemetry from F-Secure’s vulnerability management tool, Radar, indicates 15% of hosts run Windows SMB. The WannaCry outbreak dramatically illustrates why admins should make sure SMB is properly patched and is not exposed to the public Internet.

You can’t fix what you don’t know about

“The best way to handle cyber threats is to actually foresee them by fixing vulnerabilities before they can even be exploited,” says Jimmy Ruokolainen, Vice-President, Product Management at F-Secure. “This means hardening an organisation’s entire attack surface. But, with shadow IT, external misconfigurations and potentially vulnerable partners, companies aren’t usually aware of their entire attack surface. That’s where F-Secure Radar goes further than other vulnerability management solutions, with our unique Web topology mapping feature.”

Threat assessment tools work well for finding vulnerabilities and exposed systems, as long as they are directed where to look. They don’t work as well for finding all the systems they’re meant to be examining, however. Web topology is the arrangement of a network, including its nodes and connecting lines. With F-Secure Radar, information security managers can generate a threat assessment report of their organisation’s Internet and Web topology and discover extraneous, vulnerable or misconfigured systems, such as Internet-exposed SMB. It even allows visibility into external brand infringements on the Web.

F-Secure Radar is a turnkey vulnerability scanning and management platform. It allows admins to identify and manage both internal and external threats, report risks and be compliant with current and future regulations (such as PCI and GDPR compliance). It enables streamlined productivity and security management, with an efficient service workflow, including vulnerability monitoring, automated scheduled scans, and ticketing for prioritised remediation and verification.

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“The exploitation of known vulnerabilities is still the root cause of most breaches,” says Ruokolainen. “With F-Secure Radar, companies’ security teams can gain incomparable visibility and foresight into cyber security risks, so they can find exploitable vulnerabilities before anyone else does.”

* Source: Nopsec, 2016 Outlook: Vulnerability Risk Management and Remediation Trends

** Source: Gartner, It’s Time to Align Your Vulnerability Management Priorities With the Biggest Threats, Craig Lawson, 9 Sept 2016

Editorial contacts
Camsoft Solutions Grant Chapman (0800) 616 765 grant@camsoft.co.za