Criminals prowl on the perimeter of your network seeking weaknesses in your systems and networks that will make illegal entry monitoring and data theft possible. Just as homeowners install alarm systems to protect their belongings, you and your business need to conduct a network vulnerability assessment on a regular basis.
What is a Network Vulnerability Assessment?
Your cyber environment is a complex entity with many moving parts, all of which are subject to attack or human error. To minimize the chances of this happening, it is vital to regularly implement a vulnerability assessment to highlight chinks in your security armor concerning computer systems, web and mobile applications and network infrastructures. The goal of this set of procedures is to accomplish the following:
- Identify, quantify and rank the severity of vulnerabilities throughout the complete cyber environment;
- Explain the consequences should criminals exploit one or more of these deficits;
- Come up with a plan to address the vulnerabilities;
- Provide long-term recommendations that a company can use to improve its overall digital security posture.
Because cyber security and data protection are indispensable parts of any company’s infrastructure, it is crucial that you enact a vulnerability assessment methodology that thoroughly takes all facts of network safety and risk mitigation into account.
Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Types
There are three different types of methodologies that your network security specialists can employ when conducting an assessment. They include the following:
- Black box network vulnerability testing. In this method, your security team attempts to infiltrate your own cyber defenses from the outside just as a hacker might. Without having any administrative privileges or account passwords, the team attempts to exploit public IP addresses, firewalls and anything located in your demilitarized zone (DMZ) with that goal in mind.
- White box vulnerability testing. The opposite side of the coin, white box testing involves your team being given all of the privileges that authorized users have in order to conduct a thorough analysis of the entire network, including file servers and databases. Their job is to scan the entire internal environment for vulnerabilities and to use tools to assess the security of the stored information and machine configuration.
- Gray box vulnerability assessments incorporate some of both white and black box methods. This type of analysis is done if security team experts receive certain intelligence about a network such as user login details but do not have full access to the entire environment.
Which network vulnerability tests and methodologies you choose to conduct depends on your business’s objectives, financial resources and level of threat risk.
Network Vulnerability Assessment Tools
Just how does a security services team go about assessing a business’s susceptibility to data breach or other cyber threats? There are two kinds of automated scanning tools that help in the identification of threats and their prioritization according to severity.
Both open source and commercial vulnerability assessment tools use checklists of control parameters to test for compliance and identify vulnerabilities. However, they differ in several ways:
Open source tools do not require it. Whereas you might spend thousands of dollars in licensing fees for commercial tools.
The network vulnerability assessment report quality
Commercial tools are significantly more expensive, but their listings of vulnerabilities are generally more thorough and contain fewer false positives than their open source counterparts.
Since commercial tools are generally bolstered by more financial support, they tend to be backed up more regularly. As a result, they are more likely to be equipped with detection and protection tools based on the most recently known malware and security breach strategies.
Although many organizations do not have the funds to invest in commercial scanning technology, the good news is that open source tools can be very effective in testing, assessing and ultimately helping to protect network systems.
The Steps Involved in Network Vulnerability Tests
Conducting research into a company’s vulnerability to threats involves several steps that include the following:
- Define and plan the scope of testing. Determine the objectives the company wants to achieve and ensure that the tools used will accomplish that goal.
- Using automated tools, conduct research into the network infrastructure, including open ports, driver configurations, virtual and physical servers, firewalls, intrusion protection and detection systems and other existing security measures.
- Use automated vulnerability assessment tools to conduct scans according to the company’s objectives. Validate their findings with manual testing to reduce false positives.
- Submit a report to company stakeholders that details and prioritizes the severity of vulnerabilities and recommends methodologies for remediation.
- After improvements have been implemented, project managers should investigate and pursue topics such as penetration testing. These assessments involve trying to get into the network after corrective measures have been implemented to find out if they are effective or need additional focus.
- The last phase involves receiving a report whose purpose is to analyze the final results of all vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
Complexity is the word of the day when it comes to maintaining web and corporate security. Fortunately, today’s businesses can use vulnerability testing to test for, find, analyze, prioritize and mitigate weaknesses, often before threat actors exploit them.
It is crucial that you keep your network as safe as possible, and you should begin to assess and strengthen your defenses as soon as possible.