Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities

Let's kick off Cybersecurity Awareness Month by reminding everyone to protect themselves from cyber threats. Ensuring patches are applied to equipment consistently and timely can help your organization stay cyber compliant. The leading causes of unpatched security vulnerabilities include: End of life equipment, poor vendor support, and poor patch management.  To a malicious actor all three of these cases have the same end result, "There is a vulnerability to exploit." Here are a few details from our ICN Security Team.While some  may wonder,  "how can this be?  Others are nodding along while reading this right now.

End of life equipment means that there is a piece of equipment that the manufacturer no longer updates. 

Poor vendor support means that while the manufacturer "supports" the device they are not able to address vulnerabilities in a timely manner. (Even big name manufacturers can take months to release updates to vulnerable systems.)

Both of these problems are extremely prevalent in the low cost technology market. Many of today's network connected devices are no longer receiving updates.

Poor patch management is when a patch exists, but it doesn't make it to the system for a variety of reasons. 

The biggest hurdle to overcome with patch management is typically poor inventory/asset management.  This is a situation where the organization is not aware of what assets are connected to the network. Action Item:  When was the last time your printer was updated?

A full asset inventory doesn't just record the computers connected to the domain, but it also includes the routers, firewalls, VPNs, switches, smartboards, video casting, cellphones, UPSs, stereos, cameras, badge readers, and whole host of other devices that connect to the network.  Lack of knowledge of these systems results in a lack of response to patch these systems.

Each patching solutions requires an alerting mechanism to allow validation that the patch was applied.  If the vulnerabilities are not patched these systems are vulnerable to well documented (and frequently utilized) attacks.