Late last month an Internet browser vulnerability was identified by security firm FireEye. The flaw affected all versions of Microsoft’s popular browser Internet Explorer (IE). According to FireEye, the vulnerability allowed attackers to install malware on your computer without your knowledge or permission. Once compromised, the system would be open to a variety of issues including theft of personal data, tracking of online behavior, or control of the computer.
The vulnerability was so severe that it caused both the US and UK Computer Emergency Readiness Teams (CERT) to recommend not using IE until the flaw was corrected. This sort of reaction by CERT is rare. While a patch was made available within a week’s time, your organization still had to apply it to vulnerable machines to remediate the issue. Anyone utilizing IE and other browsers should take note; some exploits are left without remediation for months or longer. Many organizations never patch vulnerabilities leaving them open to exploitation indefinitely.
Browser exploits are commonly utilized to infiltrate computer systems and the networks they are connected to. Exploit code is commonly placed within infected websites and launched against unknowing visitors that browse the site. Once a browser has been compromised through the exploit, software is installed to provide remote access and control of the machine. This is commonly referred to as a RAT or remote administration tool, Trojan, or backdoor.
Many exploits will send out a beacon signaling the remote attacker of the systems compromise. The remote attacker will access the machine installing additional software to exploit the local machine as well as hack deeper into any local network connections that may provide access to other computers, databases and networks.
What makes the compromised organization so vulnerable is that the hacking activities occur without obvious signs of the exploit. The attacker can operate over long-periods of time ultimately uncovering some information that can be monetized. This may include: theft of banking funds, credit cards, customer information, intellectual property and more.
Compromises affect all organizations large and small. Larger entities may be newsworthy but small enterprises are also affected. eBay is one of the most recent big names to be compromised, however one-third of all attacks involve small business.
Your best line of defense starts with awareness, and the proactive management and response to the latest threats. Most maintenance does not involve the latest gadgets and security tools but more so an organized, pragmatic approach to managing the threats.
Network Management Solutions (NMS) has been helping companies address business driven technology issues since 1996. We are currently serving a variety of customers within New Jersey, New York, and the surrounding metro areas of New York and Philadelphia.
Please contact NMS to schedule a free one-hour, no obligation, consultation to discuss your concerns. We will provide expert advice in simple business terms on how to best address your issues through NMS or another provider. NMS can be reached by phone or email at 908-232-0100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on Network Management Solutions can be found at www.nmscorp.com.