One of the windows in the guest room does not shut completely. You are unaware of this, but a burglar manages to identify this. They use this window to break in and steal valuables. Similarly, if you don’t know that security weaknesses and gaps exist in your IT environment, how do you secure them and keep your mission-critical assets protected? This is where Vulnerability Assessments (VA) come in.
The different types of vulnerability assessments enable organizations to evaluate if their applications and other components in the IT infrastructure are susceptible to any known vulnerabilities. Vulnerability assessments equip organizations with the strategic advantage against attackers and enable them to be proactive in securing their mission-critical assets.
Read on to find out more about these assessments.
What are Vulnerability Assessments?
Vulnerability Assessments are comprehensive processes for the systematic review of security weaknesses in the IT environment. It requires all applications, systems, devices, networks, third-party software, and components, etc. to be scanned to proactively identify vulnerabilities. Further, the vulnerability assessment process enables organizations to assign severity levels to the different vulnerabilities and prioritize them.
Types of Vulnerability Assessments
These assessments are used to detect possible network security flaws and vulnerable devices on the wired and wireless networks. This helps prevent unauthorized access to private or public networks and network-accessible resources.
Wireless Network Assessments
Wireless network assessments involve the assessment of the organization’s WiFi networks to identify rogue access points through the wireless network infrastructure. By scanning the wireless networks, organizations can also validate if they are securely configured.
Through host-based assessments, organizations can detect vulnerabilities in the servers, workstations and other network hosts. Ports and services visible to network-based assessments are also included in this vulnerability assessment type. It equips organizations with greater visibility into configuration settings and patch history of scanned systems.
These scans enable organizations to identify known security vulnerabilities and gaps in web applications and websites. Further, through static or dynamic analysis of the source codes, coding flaws and security misconfigurations can be identified in web applications and networks.
This type of vulnerability assessment involves the scanning of databases and big data systems for weaknesses, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities. Through database scanning, organizations can detect rouge databases, insecure development environments, etc. This enables organizations to prevent dangerous attacks such as SQLi. It also helps organizations to classify sensitive data across its IT infrastructure.
Vulnerability assessment tools enable organizations to scan for existing and emerging threats that target your IT infrastructure. VA tools typically include web application scanners, network scanners, protocol scanners and so on.
Though manual testing and assessments are used, automation is necessary for VA tools. Automation enables organizations to achieve greater coverage, speed, agility, scalability and accuracy in vulnerability assessments. Choose a comprehensive and intelligent scanning tool like Indusface WAS that is equipped with Global Threat Intelligence and other high-tech capabilities.
Vulnerability Assessment Process
Organizations must determine all the assets, systems and networks including third-party components, software and services that need to be assessed. Further, databases, locations of sensitive data, etc. must be identified through asset discovery. This needs to be done on a regular basis since the IT infrastructure keeps getting constantly upgraded with moving parts and new additions.
Vulnerability Scanning/ Identification
In this step of the vulnerability assessment process, organizations must proactively scan the entire IT environment for known vulnerabilities, security misconfigurations and weaknesses. This process must be backed up by threat intelligence and vulnerability databases. At this stage, false positives need to be filtered out.
Here, the source and root causes of each of the vulnerabilities are identified. This helps gain clarity for prioritization and remediation.
Vulnerability analysis is followed by risk assessment wherein the vulnerabilities are ranked and prioritized. The factors used to prioritize vulnerabilities include severity of a possible attack, data, systems and business functions at risk, ease of attack and potential impact on the organization.
In this step, organizations look at effective ways to minimize the security risks through a combination of strategies.
Conduct vulnerability assessments on a regular basis. Vulnerability scanning must take place every day and after major technological or business changes. The results of these scans must be fed into the ongoing VA processes, as well as, the vulnerability management processes.
The Way Forward: Do Not Stop with Assessments
Vulnerabilities Assessments are critical for proactive security, but organizations cannot stop with assessments. VA tools must be complemented by a robust, intuitive, and managed Web Application Firewall for effective, and always-on security. The VA process must be part of a holistic vulnerability management process and managed security solution.