When is IT security detective work? When you’re working in vulnerability detection. Every digital system has its pressure points, but they’re not easy to identify. It takes an in-depth investigation to find your system’s vulnerabilities and work out strategies for remediation. If you have a network, deal in sensitive data, or belong to any of the top five sectors at serious risk (government, banking, education, law, and healthcare), you have a significant potential attack surface—which means you need to know where your vulnerabilities lie.
That’s where Network Vulnerability Scanning comes in. Specially targeted and conducted by your IT security department or external assessment provider, Network Vulnerability Scanning inspects your system to detect points of potential exploitation or threat.
Conducting vulnerability scans is a critical step in the direction of crafting a more holistic, effective security program. We can break vulnerability scanning down into four different categories:
√ External vulnerability scan
√ Internal vulnerability scan
√ Intrusive and non-intrusive assessment
√ Environmental scan
And from there, we can distinguish two different approaches: unauthenticated and authenticated.
An unauthenticated approach involves “intrusive” scans, or scans without trusted access to the network. This approach is designed to point out the vulnerabilities hackers can access without a connection to the network, an important consideration in mapping your weak points… but be forewarned. Because intrusive scans are, well, intrusive, they can cause errors, reboots, and reduced productivity on the targeted machine in the process.
On the other hand, an authenticated approach involves logging into a trusted network and then conducting the scan. This approach is designed to point out the vulnerabilities hackers can access with a connection to the network.
So what should you be looking for? An ideal Network Vulnerability Scan…
√ Must be able to conduct comprehensive scanning.
√ Should not impact your network performance.
√ Should be adaptable and scalable to your network architecture.
√ Should be able to identify critical threats to your network environment.
√ Must be able to do risk analysis, and inform you in a timely manner about remediating vulnerabilities.
√ Must be able to scan a range of assets, including but not limited to hosts, web servers, network devices, mobile devices, and virtual machine environments.
In short, you’ll want to put together a plan—or find a trusted IT security assessment provider—that can conduct scans that cover all your bases.
So what does a Network Vulnerability Assessment look like?
What To Expect: The Network Vulnerability Assessment
A Network Vulnerability Assessment isn’t just about identifying the weak points in your systems. A truly expert assessment will also check the vulnerabilities detected against known risks and attack fronts, then assign risk levels to those vulnerabilities, and recommend targeted remediation.
Your organization has the opportunity to prioritize and decide which solutions work best for you. For instance, if a vulnerability is low-risk, and mitigation would involve greater risk, IT security experts may leave the vulnerability untouched.
Network Vulnerability Assessments are generally sorted into four types:
- The host assessment identifies attacks against your server and network and is designed to provide better visibility for your configuration settings.
- The network and wireless assessment surveys your policies to prevent unauthorized access to your public and private networks.
- The database assessment identifies weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your database or other large data networks. It also highlights insecure test environments.
- The application assessment identifies security vulnerabilities in web applications. This assessment is fully automated and surveys the source code.
From there, we can break a Network Vulnerability Assessment into five steps:
- Vulnerability identification. A team of IT security experts conducts tests and evaluations of your servers and applications to sniff out vulnerabilities with the help of vulnerability scanners and automated tools.
- Vulnerability analysis. Once the team has collected the evidence, they identify the main cause (or “source”) of the vulnerabilities. They also check their work to filter out any “false positive” security flaws.
- Risk assessment. This step is all about quantification: ranking each vulnerability based on risk level, severity, ease of attack, and potential damage. The goal is to answer: How severe are the vulnerabilities detected? What impact could they have?
- Remediation. To close security gaps, the assessment team determines the most effective method of mitigation for each vulnerability, which can involve introducing all-new security policies and tools. They’ll recommend fixing the most pressing vulnerabilities and—if the risk outweighs the reward—letting some low-level vulnerabilities lie.
- Repeat. In the world of IT security, once-through is never enough. Schedule future Network Vulnerability Assessments and plan for periodic vulnerability scanning to address emerging threats.
With an effective, seasoned, trustworthy team at the helm, there are no downsides to a good Network Vulnerability Assessment that identifies the weak points in your network, gives you a complete portrait of your security architecture, and prioritize the most urgent risks.
Keep Cyber-Threats In Mind
An important part of vulnerability remediation is surveying for cyber-risks—in other words, the work of an IT Security Assessment. Having a complete understanding of all the attack fronts you face will assist your IT security team in developing effective risk responses.
You’ll always want to keep an eye out for these risk factors:
√ Unpatched security vulnerabilities
√ Hidden backdoor programs
√ Admin account privilege
√ Automated running of scripts without virus checks
√ Unknown security bugs in software
√ Insider threats
√ IoT devices
IT Security Assessments are generally sorted into three types:
- The hardware assessment evaluates application development, unused ports, unwanted protocols, and how encrypted data is transmitted. Hackers love to target vulnerabilities in old or obsolete equipment, but this assessment doesn’t give them the chance.
- The software assessment evaluates weaknesses in your software code. It can test for vulnerability types like SQL injection, integer overflow, buffer overflow, or OS command injection.
- The procedure assessment evaluates how you use your hardware and software. It’s designed to build strategies for how to improve integrity, resolve step-specific vulnerabilities, and mitigate human error.
IT Security Assessments should be conducted as regularly as Network Vulnerability Assessments. Don’t believe us? Consider these benefits, according to the experts:
- You’ll reduce long-term costs. Security incidents are costly, and if you’re always on top of identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, you won’t incur those pesky fees.
- You’ll have a plan for future assessments. Good IT security assessments are a team effort. If you know what you want to prioritize and have a history of your vulnerabilities on file, you can work with your team to conduct faster, more effective assessments.
- You’ll be compliant. IT Security and Network Vulnerability Assessments are compliant with HIPAA, PCI DSS, and APRA CPS 234.
- You’ll keep your data under wraps. Data breaches remain one of the most insidious and costly cyberattacks across all sectors, and protecting your information will keep your business—and your reputation—well above board.
Partner Wisely To Reduce Risk
To work with an assessment provider your industry peers trust, consider BAI Security. We’re proud to be one of 2021’s Most Influential Leaders in Security, providing industry-leading IT security assessments for every budget. Our Network Vulnerability Assessment is a cost-effective enhancement to your IT Security Assessment. Using only best-in-breed tools, we additionally offer year-round on-demand scanning as part of our ongoing Vulnerability Management Service, as well as consultations with BAI’s in-house experts for quick and effective recommendations for remediation.
For more information, contact us today to discuss options.