3 Very Risky Practices to Avoid When it Comes to Cybersecurity

With so many different types of cyberattacks being launched against companies these days, a common question among businesses looking to improve their defenses is “Where should we focus our efforts?” The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is helping to answer that question. It is developing a catalog of “Bad Practices” — practices that are exceptionally risky.  

Launched in late August 2021, the catalog currently lists the following bad practices. The agency plans add to the list based on input from the IT security community. 

1. Using Unsupported Software 

Using software that is not supported by its vendor is very risky. The risk is further compounded if the unsupported software (or the technology in which it is incorporated) is accessible from the Internet. 

Unsupported software includes applications that have reached the end of their lifecycles. Once apps reach a certain age, vendors stop providing updates for them. Not receiving updates that fix functionality glitches or add features is merely inconvenient. However, not receiving updates that patch newly discovered security vulnerabilities is dangerous. That’s because cybercriminals often exploit software vulnerabilities to access companies’ networks. In 2020, vulnerability exploitation was the initial attack vector in nearly a third of the cyberattacks investigated by security analysts. 

To minimize the risk of getting attacked, companies should use software that is supported by the vendor. Equally important, they need to apply software updates in a timely fashion. 

2. Using Default Credentials for Service Accounts 

Cybercriminals like to hack the service accounts for software and hardware because they can easily elevate the accounts’ privileges and gain access to sensitive data. Few vendors, though, design their software or hardware to create a unique default service-account password when the software or hardware is installed by a customer. Instead, the same default password (e.g., “admin”, “password”, “guest”) is used for every installation. 

Although vendors typically recommend that customers change the default password before using the software or hardware in their operations, many companies fail to do so. These businesses are at much greater risk of being successfully attacked because hackers keep track of default service-account passwords and incorporate them into brute-force password-cracking tools. These tools are commonly used to infiltrate companies’ networks. In 2020, brute-force attacks were the most widely used initial attack vector. 

To mitigate the threat of brute-force attacks against service accounts, companies need to make sure that they have changed the default passwords for those accounts. The passwords chosen must be both strong and unique. Multi-factor authentication should also be set up for those accounts. 

3. Using Single-Factor Authentication for Remote or Administrative Access 

Using single-factor authentication (e.g., password-based authentication) for remote or administrative access to IT systems is highly risky, especially if the authentication system is accessible from the Internet. The risk is due to the fact that cybercriminals often use compromised passwords in their cyberattacks. For example, in 61% of data breaches, cybercriminals used compromised credentials to hack into the companies’ networks, according to Verizon’s “2021 Data Breach Investigations Report“. 

Cybercriminals can obtain compromised passwords several ways. For instance, they might use a phishing scam to trick an employee into revealing a password or they might buy compromised credentials on the dark web. 

A more secure, less risky strategy is to use multi-factor authentication for remote and administrative access to IT systems. With two-step authentication, a second credential (e.g., a one-time security code) is needed to log in. That way, even if hackers have the compromised credentials for an IT system, they won’t be able to access it. 

For more information on how to reduce security risks, please contact us. 

Get the most from your IT

As service providers to more than 300 companies, the dedicated professionals at MicroAge are second to none when it comes to managed services. By improving efficiency, cutting costs and reducing downtime, we can help you achieve your business goals!

Most commented posts

Cybersecurity strategies banner, stratégie cybersécurité

Top 5 Cybersecurity Strategies for Your Business

Whether it’s our personal identity, our banking, or possessions in our home, security is a topic we all think about every day. But are you…

Read More
Managed Services Gérés

How Managed Services Can Help Your Business During COVID-19

Businesses across the globe are heavily reliant on technology to maximize their efficiency. This has become more evident during this COVID-19 pandemic. The dependence on…

Read More
tendance travail hybrid work trends

Hybrid Work Trends Businesses Need to Know in 2021

As governments and businesses make plans to “reopen”, for lack of a better term, after over a year of living in pandemic mode, one thing we…

Read More
print business expenses

Quick Tips for Reducing Everyday Business Expenses

The cost of everything has skyrocketed over the last couple of years. From technology to office supplies, prices have increased. Supply chain challenges have created…

Read More
cybrsecurity: zero tolerance

How to protect endpoint devices with the Zero Trust model? 

The Zero Trust model offers a cybersecurity approach which calls into question the usual trust granted to networks and users within an IT system. Contrary…

Read More