Story image

How to prevent security breaches when patching is not an option

25 May 2016

Palo Alto Networks is warning businesses that rely too much on software patches, saying they could fall victim to ‘zero day’ vulnerabilities and are opening their systems up to cyber security breaches.

Patches shore up the inevitable flaws and vulnerabilities in software. However, often patches are only developed in response to a hacker discovering the flaw in the first place, leading to potential cyber attacks, according to the company.

“When vendor-issued patches aren’t used properly, or if vendors stop supporting applications, users can become vulnerable to so-called zero-day vulnerabilities. While it makes good business sense to upgrade and install patches wherever possible, there are times when patching simply isn’t an option,” explains Gavin Coulthard, systems engineering manager for Australia and New Zealand, Palo Alto Networks.

“When organisations must operate un-patchable applications and systems, they need to deploy endpoint security systems,” he says.

“This can help prevent security breaches that result from exploitation of known and unknown vulnerabilities.” 

Coulthard says, “While individual patches can close software holes that lead to vulnerabilities, endpoint security solutions can identify known threats and prevent them from using those vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access in the first place, whether the vulnerability was known or not.”  Coulthard says attacks that exploit unpatched vulnerabilities typically place malicious code in seemingly-innocuous data files. The user opens the file, and the malicious code exploits the unpatched vulnerability, often giving the attacker full control over the endpoint.  “The ideal solution focuses on blocking core techniques that all exploits must use to compromise applications, rather than focusing on individual application vulnerabilities,” he says.

“This approach means that applications are no longer vulnerable, even if security patches are not applied.”

Secureworks Magic Quadrant Leader for Security Services
This is the 11th time Secureworks has been positioned as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed Security Services, Worldwide.
Google puts Huawei on the Android naughty list
Google has apparently suspended Huawei’s licence to use the full Android platform, according to media reports.
Using data science to improve threat prevention
With a large amount of good quality data and strong algorithms, companies can develop highly effective protective measures.
General staff don’t get tech jargon - expert says time to ditch it
There's a serious gap between IT pros and general staff, and this expert says it's on the people in IT to bridge it.
ZombieLoad: Another batch of flaws affect Intel chips
“This flaw can be weaponised in highly targeted attacks that would normally require system-wide privileges or a complete subversion of the operating system."
Forget endpoints—it’s time to secure people instead
Security used to be much simpler: employees would log in to their PC at the beginning of the working day and log off at the end. That PC wasn’t going anywhere, as it was way too heavy to lug around.
DimData: Fear finally setting in amongst vulnerable orgs
New data ranking the ‘cybermaturity’ of organisations reveals the most commonly targeted sectors are also the most prepared to deal with the ever-evolving threat landscape.
IXUP goes "post-quantum" with security tech upgrade
The secure analytics company has also partnered with Deloitte as a reseller, and launched a SaaS offering on Microsoft Azure.