Remote Code Execution (RCE)

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Remote Code Execution (RCE) is an attack that allows hackers to remotely execute malicious code on a computer. The impact of an RCE vulnerability can range from malware execution to an attacker gaining full control over a compromised machine. RCE attacks can achieve a variety of hacking goals including:

  • Initial Access: RCE attacks commonly begin as a vulnerability in a public-facing application that grants the ability to run commands on the underlying machine. Attackers can use this to gain an initial foothold on a device to accomplish these attacks listed next.
  • Escalation of Privileges: Many times, internal vulnerabilities within a server remain unpatched.  This may not put system at risk to external hackers, but when an adversary gets an interactive login via an RCE exploit, they can then try to escalate privileges from within the server or system as explained in this Linux hacking article.
  • Information disclosure: RCE attacks can be used to install data-stealing malware or to directly execute commands that extract and exfiltrate data from the vulnerable device.  This can be simple unencrypted data exfiltration to sophisticated memory scrapping malware looking for passwords in memory.
  • Denial of Service: An RCE vulnerability allows an attacker to run code on the system hosting the vulnerable application. This could allow them to disrupt the operations of this or other applications on the system.
  • Cryptomining: Cryptomining or cryptojacking malware uses the computational resources of a compromised device to mine cryptocurrency. RCE vulnerabilities are commonly exploited to deploy and execute cryptomining malware on vulnerable devices.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is malware designed to deny a user access to their files until they pay a ransom to regain access. RCE vulnerabilities can also be used to deploy and execute ransomware on a vulnerable device.

While these are some of the most common impacts of RCE vulnerabilities, an RCE vulnerability can provide an attacker with full access to and control over a compromised device, making them one of the most dangerous and critical types of vulnerabilities.

What does this mean for an SMB or MSP?

For an attacker to pull off a remote code execution attack, the target system must have a pre-existing vulnerability for the attacker to exploit. Various vulnerabilities could open the door to an RCE attack, that’s why it’s vital your organization has both patch management and vulnerability alert monitoring and management processes in place to automatically update unpatched systems and applications with specific timelines.
You can deploy a cloud-based patch management solution to automatically update software whenever and wherever necessary. Most Managed Service Providers leverage one of the big three Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions (ConnectwiseDatto, and Kaseya) for patching their managed systems. These RMM solutions also provide monitoring, and remote access in addition to tested and validated patching services to their clients.

Standalone patch management solutions for companies not using the above-mentioned RMM solutions include ManageEngine, Automox, and Mosyle.

Additional Cybersecurity Recommendations

Additionally, these recommendations below will help you and your business stay secure with the various threats you may face on a day-to-day basis. All of the suggestions listed below can be gained by hiring CyberHoot’s vCISO services.

  1. Govern employees with policies and procedures. You need a password policy, an acceptable use policy, an information handling policy, and a written information security program (WISP) at a minimum.
  2. Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Adopt a Learning Management system like CyberHoot to teach employees the skills they need to be more confident, productive, and secure.
  3. Test employees with Phishing attacks to practice. CyberHoot’s Phish testing allows businesses to test employees with believable phishing attacks and put those that fail into remedial phish training.
  4. Deploy critical cybersecurity technology including two-factor authentication on all critical accounts. Enable email SPAM filtering, validate backups, deploy DNS protection, antivirus, and anti-malware on all your endpoints.
  5. In the modern Work-from-Home era, make sure you’re managing personal devices connecting to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections, etc) or prohibiting their use entirely.
  6. If you haven’t had a risk assessment by a 3rd party in the last 2 years, you should have one now. Establishing a risk management framework in your organization is critical to addressing your most egregious risks with your finite time and money.
  7. Buy Cyber-Insurance to protect you in a catastrophic failure situation. Cyber-Insurance is no different than Car, Fire, Flood, or Life insurance. It’s there when you need it most.

All of these recommendations are built into CyberHoot the product or CyberHoot’s vCISO Services. With CyberHoot you can govern, train, assess, and test your employees. Visit and sign up for our services today. At the very least continue to learn by enrolling in our monthly Cybersecurity newsletters to stay on top of current cybersecurity updates.

To learn more about Remote Code Execution (RCE), watch this short 3-minute video:

CyberHoot does have some other resources available for your use. Below are links to all of our resources, feel free to check them out whenever you like: 

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