Legacy security risks and how to address them

Dec 08, 2021

Hacker cyber crime and security

Cyber security threats have grown rapidly over the last few years, with the pandemic serving to highlight weaknesses in business systems. More often than not, it’s the common cyber threats that get the headlines and these tend to be the areas that IT teams focus on first – such as malware, password theft, phishing attacks and ransomware.

With increasing levels of security to maintain, and mounting pressures on overstretched IT teams, the security risks associated with legacy applications may be overlooked or seen as lower priority and moved to the bottom of the list. But a legacy system sitting quietly in the corner can be just as big a risk as an employee clicking on a phishing email.

Why is a legacy platform a security risk?

Organizations end up with legacy systems for a variety of reasons. Anything from mergers, acquisitions and organizational restructuring to a move to the cloud can create obsolete applications which businesses keep running for occasional access to historical data. These older systems can expose a number of security vulnerabilities to today’s increasingly sophisticated cyber security criminals. Indeed the following points may be familiar.

The top security vulnerabilities in legacy systems

  • As systems age, security falls behind unless they are kept updated. In many cases they are not. Security measures for an application developed ten years ago will have been superseded, yet the threats the application faces are still very current.
  • Legacy systems may not be compatible with current security features, such as multi-factor authentication, single sign-on or role-based access, or may lack sufficient audit trails or encryption methods.
  • Some legacy systems have third-party dependencies, such as old mainframes or obsolete databases and operating systems that they rely on, and which can also introduce security risks.
  • Changes to the business can leave systems that are no longer ‘owned’ by anyone and which slip through the net – until one day an IT update takes place and an old application is inadvertently exposed to the outside world.

How to protect legacy systems

Threats to legacy systems in these scenarios are often overlooked but they are very real. One solution that can help is application decommissioning. This is a process for removing an application from service while maintaining business continuity. Any data that you want to keep can be extracted from your chosen application and moved to a secure content repository. Authorized business users can then continue to access the information they need. This approach allows you to quickly retire the vulnerable legacy software and hardware that could be putting your business at risk, without compromising the user experience or losing important data.

For the past twenty years Macro 4 has been working with businesses to reduce the risks associated with legacy applications. Our decommissioning solutions are used by organizations across the world to improve cyber resilience and strengthen security. We can help keep your data secure by providing strong authentication and encryption. You can also apply data protection measures such as redaction to minimize access to sensitive information. Our focus is on ensuring you retain the right information in the correct business context. The result? Ready access to meaningful data which can be used for anything from customer service and operations to business intelligence and compliance.

To learn more about how decommissioning can help to address legacy risks visit our solutions page.

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