If you have read any of ORAM Corporate Advisors’ previous blogs, you know the heavy emphasis our IT and cybersecurity professionals place on data security. Your business data is your most valuable asset. One of the most crucial first steps in securing your business network and its confidential data is by completing a vulnerability assessment.
Through a systematic review of your organization’s security weaknesses, a vulnerability assessment identifies trouble spots in information systems that could lead to a breach or other cyber incident. This allows your company to remediate any vulnerabilities to reduce the odds of a data loss or breach.
What is a Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment evaluates your business’ information systems and network for susceptibilities to known vulnerabilities such as malware, viruses, and insider threats. Once vulnerabilities are identified, they are also assigned severity levels so you can address the worst of these risks first. Additionally, a vulnerability assessment will recommend mitigations and/or remediation steps to address the vulnerabilities that are identified. This will allow you to “fix” the vulnerabilities before a bad actor can take advantage of them.
What Threats Can a Vulnerability Assessment Help Prevent?
There are many threats businesses face in their daily operations from viruses and malware to ransomware and insider threats by employees or corporate partners. Just some of the threats vulnerability assessments can help remediate include:
- SQL Injection and other code injection attacks
- Escalation of privileges due to ineffective or absent authentication programs
- Denial of service attacks
- Insecure defaults
- Gaps in physical security
Are There Different Types of Vulnerability Assessments?
Yes, there are many forms of vulnerability assessments. Depending on the size and type of business you have, you may require only one type of vulnerability assessment or your company may require several. The most common types of vulnerability assessments are as follows:
- Host Assessment: A host assessment examines servers critical to the functions of your business as well as workstations and other network hosts. Services and ports are also assessed.
- Network and Wireless Assessment: This assessment examines network security for vulnerabilities. It also involves investigating practices and policies to thwart unauthorized access to networks and network-accessible resources.
- Database Assessment: Databases and larger data systems are reviewed for misconfigurations and weaknesses. This type of assessment also searches for rouge databases, insecure dev/test environments, and classifying sensitive data across your infrastructure.
- Application Scans: This assessment identifies security vulnerabilities in web applications utilized by your organization. Source codes are automatically scanned on the front end. It checks for incorrect configurations. Dynamic/static analysis of application code is also conducted.
How Do Vulnerability Assessments Work?
Scanning tools from web application scanners to protocol and network scanners are used by security analysts to conduct vulnerability assessments. There are several steps to conducting a thorough assessment. The first is testing, followed by analysis, and then assessment. The final step is remediation. Below is a quick look at each step of the vulnerability assessment process:
- Vulnerability Testing: A comprehensive list of a system or application’s vulnerabilities is drafted. Analysts test the security health of servers, applications, and other systems using automated tools or manual tests. Systems, applications, and servers are pitted against known vulnerabilities in databases, vendor notifications, and threat intelligence feeds to further identify potential security weaknesses.
- Vulnerability Analysis: This step identifies the source or causes for vulnerabilities identified in the testing step. A root cause may be an old version of an application that simply requires an update, for example. It may be something else more sinister such as malware.
- Risk Assessment: Analysts prioritize vulnerabilities by ranking them according to their severity score in this step. These rankings are based on several factors including what systems are affected, data risk, business function and continuity, and ease of attack, among others.
- Remediation: The objective of this final step is to close security gaps and determine an effective means of addressing vulnerabilities. This may include introducing new security procedures, policies, or tools, updating operational mechanisms, changes to system configurations, or applying patches and updates.
With properly conducted, regularly scheduled vulnerability assessments, business leaders can feel more confident about the security of their business data. This means they can sleep better at night knowing they have reduced the odds of a cyber incident and the financial losses associated with data breaches. Furthermore, they can safeguard the continuity of their business should an attack occur while ensuring they have done everything they can to protect data and their organization’s reputation.
To learn more about vulnerability assessments or to schedule one for your business, contact ORAM Corporate Advisors at (617) 933-5060. The initial consultation is free and there’s no obligation.