There are many different ways that enterprise systems are vulnerable. Competitors may try to hack into computer systems to gain proprietary information. Software and web applications – both proprietary and third-party – may have inherent vulnerabilities that leave your company vulnerable to attack. Dangerous data contained in emails may be unwittingly downloaded by employees, and databases may also have inherent problems that leave a company vulnerable if a hacker chooses to exploit them. By helping security teams find and eliminate the many vulnerabilities that exist within the enterprise infrastructure, your company is taking a proactive approach to enterprise security.
Corporate espionage is one way that some businesses try to gain and maintain competitive advantage. This can include finding out about a competitor’s next product launch or gaining blueprints to products from competitive market leaders. Sometimes these breaches can occur under-the-radar, while the enterprise is unaware that a breach has occurred.
Often, companies don’t realize this type of espionage has happened until a competitor comes forward with products and services with a striking likeness to the company’s proprietary offerings. And when this happens before your launch, you significant traction with your audience – and you tend to look like the copycat if you move forward with launching your own plans.
Inherent software vulnerabilities often found in third-party applications are another risk to enterprise security. Some of these programs function as a smaller component of a larger program, but any code obtained via a third-party source should be adequately tested to identify and rectify any vulnerabilities. It only takes a single vulnerability to create a domino effect that enables hackers to infiltrate your entire enterprise network. This type of vulnerability is common when a company blends various third-party components and applications together to create a unique program that meets a specific business need.
These vulnerabilities may go undetected because the enterprise isn’t aware that they’re using Software of Unknown Pedigree (SOUP). For instance, when a third-party software provider has integrated code from a secondary vendor that hasn’t been adequately tested, the end enterprise consumer may assume that the application was developed in whole by the direct supplier. Because a certain level of trust exists in that relationship, the enterprise may not subject these applications to rigorous testing.
Java, for example, is used in many programs. It’s so commonplace that many enterprises don’t even realize they’re utilizing it if they don’t carefully evaluate their applications. But Java has had a recent history of exploitable vulnerabilities in its updates. Java 6 has been shelved by the company because it had so many vulnerabilities that programmers believed it was better to focus on the next update, Java 7. Yet some applications and programs already include some form of Java 6 while companies aren’t aware they’re even using it.
Employees are another common way vulnerabilities are introduced to an enterprise, although often unintentionally. Staff may accidentally release dangerous programming into the business network by opening emails or downloading questionable applications from the Internet. Many of these downloads are for personal use – but because the employee used the business network, the program is now within the enterprise network and capable of doing damage. It may take time for security personnel to realize that a problem exists and track down the source of the attack. In the meantime, malicious programs can be working behind the scenes to configure access paths to more sensitive and restricted areas.
When a company creates and launches a new database they will test it to make sure that it is working properly. What a company may not think to check is to find out if the database is broken in some way that leaves it vulnerable. If code is changed prior to the product launch, the old code may still exist and can be leveraged by hackers to gain access. Once a database is launched with malfunctions, hackers may be able to find a way to enter the system and obtain or alter information – sometimes wreaking complete havoc on an enterprise’s entire data infrastructure.
In order to make sure that an enterprise system is secure, the company must first perform a comprehensive evaluation of all software components used in programs and applications – both proprietary and third-party. Strict policies related to employee use of business devices must be implemented and enforced. Quality assurance checks and regular audits are essential to ensure that the code is secure and no new vulnerabilities exist that could create an access point for outside attackers. Taking precautionary measures to prevent these common vulnerabilities results in a more secure organization.