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Avast Academy Security Other Threats Exploits: What You Need to Know

Exploits: What You Need to Know

An exploit is any attack that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in applications, networks, or hardware. They usually take the form of software or code that aims to gain control of computers or steal network data.


What are exploits?

Software and networks come with built-in protection against hackers, sort of like locks that keep unwanted guests from sneaking inside. A vulnerability, then, is like an open window that a thief can climb through. In the case of a computer or network, thieves can install malicious software through these vulnerabilities (or open windows) in order to control (or infect) the system for their own nefarious end. Usually, this happens without the user’s knowledge.

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    Where do exploits come from?

    Exploits are ultimately errors in the software development process that leave holes in the software’s built-in security that cybercriminals can then use to access the software and, by extension, your entire computer. Exploits are commonly classified according to the type of vulnerability they exploit, such as zero-day, DoS, spoofing and XXS. Software providers will, of course, issue security patches for all the vulnerabilities they come to know about, but until they do, the software could be at risk.

    How do you recognize exploits?

    Since exploits take advantage of security holes in software, a user has no way of knowing if they’ve been affected until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to always update your software and, in particular, install security patches released by your software’s developer. If the developer has released a patch for a known vulnerability and the user fails to install it, then unfortunately, the user will not receive the necessary virus definitions.

    How do you fix exploits?

    Since most exploits are the results of failures by the developer, removing an exploit is their responsibility, and they’ll be the one who develops and distributes a fix. However, it’s incumbent on users to keep all their software up to date and install those fixes so no hackers get a chance to exploit the vulnerabilities. One way to make sure you never miss an update, and all your software is up-to-date, is to use an application manager that makes it easy for you to keep your software safe or, better yet, have one that does it for you automatically.

    How to prevent hackers from using exploits

    • Be sure to install all software patches and security releases

    • Stay safe online and stay up-to-date on the latest news, installing all updates for your software right away

    • Install a premium antivirus that automatically updates all your software

    Easily protect yourself from exploits

    As always, exercise common sense and practice safe computing habits. Hackers can only use exploits if they manage to access your PC. So, don’t open attachments from suspicious email addresses or download files from unknown sources. Keep your software up-to-date, installing all the latest security patches as soon as they come out. And, if you want to make it easier, download Avast Antivirus, which keeps you safe from all kinds of malware and can even help you update your software.

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