Most security professionals will advise the number one way attackers gain an initial foothold on a network is, and continues to be, phishing and social engineering attacks. Palo Alto recently released their 2022 Incident Response Report which confirmed what most would say is true. At a combined 42%, phishing and social engineering make up almost half of all means of initial access.
The second most common way according to the above chart from Palo Alto is software vulnerabilities. However, in the first week of September, Kaspersky released its 2021 Incident Response Overview and it told a different story. 53.6% of the initial attack vectors they responded to were exploits of public-facing applications.
2021 had no shortage of time sensitive critical vulnerabilities including Log4j, Microsoft Exchange ProxyLogon, and three other CVEs related to the ProxyLogon vulnerabilities that were released in March of 2021. When these vulnerabilities are made publicly available it is only a matter of minutes before publicly facing systems are being scanned for vulnerable targets. Within hours, proof of concept exploits become available leading to an extremely high rate of organizations falling for such attacks.
In recent years, organizations have prioritized security awareness training and conducted social engineering and phishing training. But have those same organizations made it a priority to have a vulnerability management program in place?
How can organizations stay ahead of these attack trends? Start by building out a mature security program that includes annual penetration testing, ongoing vulnerability scanning, and a properly configured SIEM to alert on network anomalies. If you suspect a breach, identify a firm capable of responding to security incidents and secure an incident response retainer. Lastly, have an expert conduct a strategic security assessment to compare your organization’s security program to a known security standard like the Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls.