By Charles Leaver

Vulnerable applications put organizations at risk of data leakage

Organizations that have bring-your-own-device policies could be unknowingly putting their sensitive information at risk of data leakage if they do not keep a watchful eye out for vulnerabilities within applications.

Recently, security researchers discovered that several applications available on Apple’s iOS platform were at risk for HTTP request hijacking (HRH), which gives cybercriminals the ability to snoop and steal data from mobile devices.

According to SC Magazine, HRH consists of two parts. The first phase includes injecting the malware into an application by changing the logic. This step begins with a man-in-the-middle attack, which usually occurs over public, unprotected Wi-Fi connections popular at airports, hotels, stores and other locations. In the second part, the infection enables the hacker to direct and manage the device’s data traffic.

This type of attack can create a serious security weakness, as the cybercriminal can change the manners in which applications function. Additionally, the threat is quite widespread, as a significant number of mobile applications currently utilized by users are vulnerable, according to eWEEK. One such attack erased billions of dollars in a matter of minutes from the S&P 500, security researcher Yair Amit said.

“One interesting example for this would be the huge effect the Syrian Electronic Army had when they hijacked the Associated Press Twitter account earlier this year and tweeted about explosions in the White House and the injury of President Barack Obama,” Amit said.

However, proper endpoint security measures such as vulnerability assessments can help administrators protect their enterprise endpoints and identify weaknesses that could lead to these kinds of attacks.

Additionally, Amit advised users to change their application settings so that programs communicate on encrypted channels like HTTPS instead of HTTP. Users can also adjust caching settings so that applications are not storing continuous redirections.

Identifying vulnerable applications
In addition to having vulnerability assessment endpoint security measures, such as those offered by Ziften, users can also utilize online resources to help identify at-risk applications.

One such source is the OWASP Vulnerable Web Application Directory Project. The Open Web Application Security Project is an online software security community that provides information and resources for technology security. The organization’s directory project is a listing of all vulnerable Web applications that have currently been identified. Users can also watch for alerts from trusted IT news sources to discover the current vulnerability statuses of widely utilized applications that have the potential to cause data leakage.

Information of this kind can help administrators identify any at-risk programs they may be utilizing currently. Once these programs are recognized on a system, users can mitigate the risk by uninstalling them or taking precautions to lessen the chance of data leakage. However, experts state that the best protection against applications with weak data protection is not to utilize them. Instead, users should find a comparable program that fulfills the same functions. Additionally, strong endpoint security should be employed as a means to protect organizations against data leakage from vulnerable applications and programs.

Businesses seeking to better manage their endpoint security and vulnerability assessment can utilize solutions from Ziften, a leader in protecting enterprise devices. Ziften can set up real-time alerts and comprehensive analysis systems to help administrators identify at-risk programs.

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