An Exploit in Cybersecurity is a Sequence of Commands That Takes Advantage of Vulnerability & a Bug

An exploit is a code that benefits from a vulnerability found within a software or any security flaw. Security researchers usually write it to prove a threat, or else a malicious actor writes it for personal gains and to harms users. And, when an exploit is used, it can allow an attacker to remotely access your network or gain access to privileges or get deeper within the network.

In other words, an exploit is a program or a code that’s designed to detect a security flaw or vulnerability within an application, web application, or computer system and take advantage of it, usually for malicious reasons like installing malware or gaining unauthorized access to critical data.

Exploit – How Does It Work?

Different exploits work differently. Among them, one common way is getting in contact with a malicious website that attackers have targeted. However, the worst case is that attackers can trick even popular high-traffic sites like,, or
So, if you’re questioning how it all works, there are two common methods used by attackers…

  • Malicious code is hidden within the website.
  • Malvertising or malicious advertising is displayed on the site. And, the most damaging part of malvertising is that users don’t even have to click on any advertisements to get exposed to malvertising.

Users are redirected towards the exploit kit hosted on an invisible landing page in both the above-mentioned methods. And, if any vulnerability is present within the website, system, or device, then it’s inevitable that the exploit kit will identify it. Then, the kit will launch the exploit while inserting a malicious payload. One popular example of the payload is ransomware, which is becoming a global menace these days.

Types of Exploits That Everyone Should Be Aware of

Some common types of exploits are:

1. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF / XCRF)

CSRF exploit method uses compromised user identities to post unauthorized data, make unauthorized financial transactions, and modify the firewall without the user’s knowledge that the website is hacked.

2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting is a type of injection attack that injects data within legit websites. It allows hackers to execute malicious scripts into the browsers of the site users. Usually, XSS attacks target web applications to deliver malicious client-side scripts executed in the user’s browser.

3. Malicious Advertisements

Malicious advertisement, also called Malvertising or Malicious advertising, is a type of attack used to spread malware and compromise systems. Usually, it occurs through the injection of malicious code into the ads.

Here, hackers pay legitimate online advertising networks to display their malicious ads on different websites, exposing other users to visiting sites, leading to a greater risk of infection. Usually, the legit advertising networks that serve such ads aren’t aware that they’ve been duped into serving malicious content.

4. DoS (Denial-Of-Service) Attack

DoS is a type of attack where hackers flood website servers with fake traffic and overload the servers that will make them stop responding. Hence, even legitimate users won’t also be able to access the website.

5. SQL Injection

An SQL injection exploit consists of inserting or “injecting” malicious SQL queries through the data input field of the website from the client-side of the application. It’s an attack where attackers injects malicious SQL codes within an input field of Web form. And, if it became successful, it can allow access to unauthorized data and even allow attackers to perform unauthorized actions within the website’s database.

Furthermore, a successful SQL injection exploit can read sensitive data, database modification, such as updating, inserting, or deleting data, and executing administration operations on the database, such as shutting down the DBMS entirely.

6. Buffer Overflow

In a buffer overflow attack, hackers try to write data more than what the block memory can take or is allocated to hold. Therefore, buffer overflows and data get overwritten, allowing hackers to control the process or crash the program, which is being attacked.

7. Hardware-Based Attack

Firmware vulnerability, weak encryption standards, or lack of configuration management are typical examples of how hardware gets attacked.

8. Network-Based Attack

Poor or weak network security, lack of authentication or using default or weak passwords, not encrypting communication lines can be exploited and can lead to cyberattacks like main-in-the-middle, domain hijacking, and typosquatting.

9. Software-Based Attack

Software is exploited by attacks such as memory safety violations, including buffer overflows, dangling pointers, or over-reads. Input validation errors like cross-site scripting (XSS) and code injection are also common. Privilege confusion bugs that can lead to cross-site request forgery and FTP bounce attacks are examples of software-based attacks.

Exploit in Cybersecurity – How It Occurs

There are many ways exploits occur in cybersecurity.

1. Local Exploits

Local exploits are usually privileged applications that consist of a bug that doesn’t perform an efficient verification on users before command execution with root access. Likewise, local exploits don’t allow attackers within the system because it requires an ordinary user account.

Examples of local exploiters are a threat actor performing a brute force attack to get illegal access or a buffer overflow attack launched against an online eCommerce website that causes server crashes.

2. Remote Exploits

A remote exploit is an exploit that works on a network. Based on the type of service that is exploited, the hacker gets root or user privileges on the exploited network. Usually, it gets its user privileges first, and then the hacker scans servers for known local exploits and if an attacker finds it, they use it to get the server’s root access.

Furthermore, the attacker sometimes uses both local exploit and remote exploit to control a system in remote exploit. Likewise, remote exploit is done during the logon of protected services like IMAP and POP and against public services such as FTP and HTTP.

3. Client Exploit

Client exploit attacks are performed against a client with modified servers whenever it is accessed through a client application. User interaction is required in client exploits, and it usually relies on social engineering techniques like spear-phishing or phishing.

Likewise, phishing is among the most common exploits. In phishing, the victim gets an email that seems like it’s coming from a legit company. It contains a malicious link to another seemingly legitimate website. Once the user clicks on that link, hackers take advantage of it and attack the user’s system.

How to Mitigate Exploit Risks

Organizations can take specific steps to mitigate exploits risks, such as:

  • Installing available patches as soon as it’s released and available.
  • Providing cybersecurity awareness training.
  • Taking website security measures seriously and applying them on all their websites.
  • Eliminating older legacy systems. Though it may not sound like a great idea, if it doesn’t become an obstacle in your workflow, you can consider removing the older legacy software that can exploit any known vulnerability.
  • Change passwords regularly. If you’re running a business, it becomes essential that you keep all your online accounts safe and follow security measures like periodically changing passwords. Likewise, ensure that everyone follows the protocol of changing passwords periodically and it’s strong enough. Strong passwords with symbols, special characters, upper/lower case letters, and numbers are recommended.
  • Keep all your installed software, extensions and plugins updated. Ensure you aren’t missing any update and make sure to install it once you find out about the update.

Examples of Exploits

  • In 2016, Yahoo came under the radar when it announced a leak of more than 1 billion user accounts, which is also counted as one of the most significant data breaches of the history. In this attack, attackers were able to access Yahoo because of the weak and outdated hashing algorithm named MD 5 Yahoo used.
  • WannaCry ransomware crypto worm is another famous example of an exploit that occurred due to the vulnerability of EternalBlue. A group named The Shadow Brokers was able to steal EternalBlue and leaked it for few months before the actual attack.

Though EternalBlue was patched quickly, WannaCry became successful because organizations weren’t patching or were using older Windows systems.

Wrapping Up

Exploits are usually created to get system access, administrator’s access, or access to other essential data that is not accessible to regular users. However, hackers exploit for obtaining low-level access and then later to get higher privileges or even to harm users. This could be done through ransomware attacks, where users are asked to pay a ransom to get back their data.

Likewise, exploit attacks can also lead to malware infection. Therefore, it’s recommended that you take active steps to avoid attacks such as cross-site scripting and employ proper backup plans by using tools like CodeGuard backup. Lastly, we’ve detailed what exploit means, its different types, and how to mitigate it. We hope this article proves helpful. Good luck!

codeguard backup CodeGuard Backup – Website Backup & Security Tool

Get multipurpose CodeGuard Backup. It’s an automated website backup tool with added features such as malware scanning and removal. It also offers WordPress plugin for WordPress site owners to ensure all the WordPress updates are regularly updated and prevent hackers from using any vulnerability.
Shop Now

codeguard backup CodeGuard Backup – Website Backup & Security Tool

Get multipurpose CodeGuard Backup. It’s an automated website backup tool with added features such as malware scanning and removal. It also offers WordPress plugin for WordPress site owners to ensure all the WordPress updates are regularly updated and prevent hackers from using any vulnerability.
Shop Now