Exploit attacks are on the increase

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Olivia Storey

Hackers using computer exploits have made a dramatic increase in 2016, rising by almost 25% in the past year alone.

A computer ‘exploit’ uses a bug or vulnerability to target a weakness in an operating system or piece of software. The aim is to carry out some kind of malicious act, which can include things like Distributed Denial of Service, Trojan horse, Worms, or a Virus.

They can exploit the security without any previous access to the system. The hackers would just find a way in through the weakest point.

If the vulnerability is discovered by the OS developer, they can issue ‘patches’ or ‘fixes’ that can remedy the weaknesses. They are distributed as soon as they are discovered and they are released via software updates. This is why keeping software and apps up to date is so important, as they often contain security fixes.

Sadly, in 2016 the number of attacks involving exploits increased 24.54%, to 702,026,084 attempts to launch via an exploit. So, we ask Mark James, ESET IT Security Specialist, about security exploits and how to avoid being attacked by them.

“These types of attacks will increase for many reasons, as software gets older it can get increasingly more difficult to keep it updated.

“Not all vendors will keep their software or hardware updated, and even if they do the user still has to implement those updates, the tools available to make exploiting vulnerabilities are becoming easier to get hold of.

“Our expertise in finding exploits and vulnerabilities is getting better, as we develop new software and means to identify these failure points, but they of course can be used for bad things as well.

Ensuring your software and hardware (firmware) is up-to-date these days is of paramount importance.

“When choosing a vendor, consider how often they patch and update their services, including auto updating if possible.

“Education and regular security reviews will help to keep your environment safe and ensure you use multi layered protection that includes a good internet security product.

“Usually the older the software or hardware, the more susceptible it is to more exploits or vulnerabilities.

“We hear so often about the dangers of outdated software but it really does matter these days.”


How often do you check for updates for your phone, PC or laptop? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK.


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