Browse Definitions:
Definition

vulnerability

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Catch up on the Windows Server patches of 2017
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A vulnerability, in information technology (IT), is a flaw in code or design that creates a potential point of security compromise for an endpoint or network.

Vulnerabilities create possible attack vectors, through which an intruder could run code or access a target system’s memory. The means by which vulnerabilities are exploited are varied and include code injection and buffer overruns; they may be conducted through hacking scripts, applications and free hand coding.

Vulnerabilities are constantly being researched and detected by the security industry, software companies, cybercriminals and other individuals. Some companies offer bug bounties for these discoveries. Nevertheless, when vulnerability disclosure is considered, the question of how much information to provide and when to make it public is a contentious issue.

Some people argue for full and immediate disclosure, including the specific information that could be used to exploit the vulnerability; others believe that vulnerability information should not be published at all because the information can be used by an intruder. A zero-day exploit, for example, takes place as soon as a vulnerability becomes generally known. To mitigate risk, many experts believe that limited information should be made available to a selected group after some specified amount of time has elapsed since detection.

Both black hats and white hats regularly search for vulnerabilities and test exploits, however, and if a cybercriminal finds a useful and unreported security hole, he is likely to take advantage of it. Proponents of disclosure maintain that it leads to more patching of vulnerabilities and more secure software.

See also: vulnerability scanner, vulnerability analysis, vulnerability management, vulnerability management planning

This was last updated in September 2014

Continue Reading About vulnerability

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • password

    A password is an unspaced sequence of characters used to determine that a computer user requesting access to a computer system is...

  • adware

    Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while a program is running.

  • botnet

    A botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers, mobile devices and internet of things ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • data migration

    Data migration is the process of transferring data between data storage systems, data formats or computer systems.

  • compact disc (CD)

    A compact disc is a portable storage medium that can be used for recording, storing and playing back audio, video and other data ...

  • secondary storage

    Secondary storage is used to protect inactive data written from a primary storage array to a nonvolatile tier of disk, flash or ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close