Do You Really Need To Perform Vulnerability Assessments?

Technological advancements have opened many doors, but they’ve also left companies susceptible to risk.

The transparency of advanced data in online environments leaves companies vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Companies have to be vigilant in their approach to safeguarding against attacks.

Detecting an issue is one thing, but responding in a remedial fashion is a different story altogether. This concern has given rise to vulnerability assessment, an advanced security measure which offers a strategic perspective for protection and peace of mind.

But what exactly is a vulnerability assessment? Let’s delve a little deeper.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

A vulnerability assessment is essentially a risk management process. It involves identifying, ranking, quantifying, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in a given system. Whether assessment concerns network infrastructures or applications, it will provide the knowledge necessary to understand and respond to threats in different business environments.

When awareness is brought to security risks, it is easier to perform resolutions as part of your risk management strategy. Companies can better understand risks by leveraging automated tools, which perform assessments to outline vulnerabilities in more detail.

Vulnerability assessments are typically executed by large organizations who are subject to ongoing attacks. But that doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t benefit from these processes, too. They allow companies to spot weaknesses before they can be exploited, and use preventative measures rather than responding before it’s too late.

The procedure is applicable across multiple industries, including IT systems, transportation, communication systems, utility systems, and more. The nature of the industry in question determines impact loss. Consider how a few minutes of downtime would affect an air traffic control tower in comparison with a local government office. Different industries have different priorities, so you must weigh up potential risks accordingly.

As is probably evident from this summary, a vulnerability assessment improves the security of business systems. When a new threat is reported, it creates a race against the clock scenario. Can companies respond with effective solutions before attackers maliciously exploit weaknesses?

In the early stages, it’s a case of containing the threat before you can eradicate it.

Why is a Vulnerability Assessment So Important?

Hackers can exploit sensitive and personal information. You’ll appreciate the sheer frequency of attacks once you start performing vulnerability assessments, and this will be a huge incentive to perform risk management.

Attackers can launch vicious DDoS and SQL injections which can attack applications and infrastructure. Following detection, security teams will be notified to perform automatic fixes. Their intention will be to reduce attack surface areas while prioritizing the severity of threats.

Vulnerability scanners identify threats in perimeter systems, allowing you to protect your system as well as possible. Regular scans remediate threats, provided you have up-to-date software with the latest patches.

Organizational change is more commonplace in industry than ever before because digital transformations are necessary if companies want to remain competitive and relevant. Change management processes commonly miss critical patches that scans can identify for you.

Because systems are continually modified, keeping up with IT changes can pose security threats, but this issue is alleviated with vulnerability assessments. It can also safeguard against systems which haven’t been configured properly. These can leave networks vulnerable, but an additional set of eyes can guard against mistakes made by developers.

Vulnerability assessments avoid businesses falling into the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ trap. Without testing, you won’t know until one day you run into huge problems. Additionally, with data protection being a huge initiative, vulnerability assessments provide assurance for consumers.

How Should You Implement a Vulnerability Assessment?

Initial Assessment

This involves identifying and defining risks. This stage should be performed across all devices, with an appreciation for those which are high priority.

This stage involves understanding strategic factors like:

- Risk tolerance
- Risk appetite
- Residual risk treatment
- Business impact analysis
- Countermeasures
- Risk mitigation

System Baseline Definition: Gather Information

You should understand crucial information about devices, from whether they have processes, ports, and services that shouldn’t be opened, to approved drivers, software, and configuration.

Learn which information is public and whether your device sends logs that are stored in a central repository. You can consequently gather vulnerabilities based on version, vendor, device platform, and other details.

Perform Vulnerability Scan

Leverage the right scanner, which will look for potential threats and generate desired results. Assess compliance requirements prior to engagement, and perform a scan based on your company’s current stance.

You should know the best time to perform a scan and subsequently execute it. Occasionally, segmentation will be necessary, but when applicable, you can perform your scan in one go. This decision will be determined with a recognition of context, alongside receiving policy approval for the scan to be performed.

You should engage relevant plug-ins to achieve desired results, which will include things like:

● Best scan
● Quick scan
● CMS web scan
● Stealth scan
● Aggressive scan
● Full scan
● Most common ports best scan

With experimentation, you’ll discover an approach best suited to your individual needs and requirements.

Procure Assessment Report

The most important stage of all involves extracting real value from the final report. Here you should consider your initial assessment goals, adding recommendations and risk mitigation techniques based on results.

Identify gaps between results and your system baseline definition. The deviations you notice will be opportunities to correct issues and mitigate against vulnerabilities. Findings will be ordered beneficially to enhance understanding.

Watch out for medium and high vulnerabilities, which will produce reports with information like:

● Details on affected systems
● Name of vulnerability
● Date of discovery
● Description of vulnerability
● Details on the process to correct vulnerability
● Time taken to correct, next measures, and countermeasures for the eventual solution

This list will boost your security posture and understanding of the entire process. You can thus deliver suitable outcomes which extend beyond simple compliance.

Final Thoughts

Establishing a vulnerability management program is a sure-fire way to protect your business from harm. If you haven’t already considered deploying one, it’s about time you did! And even if you already have a vulnerability assessment initiative in place, it’s always a good idea to periodically review it. Because technology is always changing, your system’s vulnerabilities will change as well, so make sure you regularly do assessments and update your testing processes.

Get in touch with our security experts at Argentra if you’d like help setting up or improving your vulnerability management program.

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