Editor’s note: Given the intensity and sophistication of new-age cyber-attacks, vulnerability testing is the foundation of a robust security posture. This post will give you an insight into how to perform this process and what benefits your business can get from performing vulnerability assessments regularly. If you need help with vulnerability testing, check out our vulnerability assessment services and learn how ScienceSoft’s team can make vulnerability testing work for your business.
Vulnerability testing, also called vulnerability assessment, is a process of identifying security loopholes in the IT environment to reduce the probability of unauthorized access and data breaches. It is a surface-level assessment of an organization’s cybersecurity posture that provides security teams with a list of possible flaws and threats.
Typically, vulnerability assessment is followed by penetration testing, which aims to simulate the actions of external and internal intruders. Although both processes are part of the Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) mechanism, there are a number of differences between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.
Performing vulnerability assessments regularly can bring important benefits to an organization, including:
- Early and consistent detection of security risks in software, networks, servers, etc. before they are exploited by potential attackers at a huge cost to the company’s assets and reputation.
- Prompt remediation actions to either eliminate or reduce threats to a manageable risk level.
- Compliance with industry cybersecurity requirements, which helps avoid significant noncompliance fees.
- Repeated use of the process once it’s established.
- Continuous access to up-to-date information on the IT infrastructure security state.
In order to conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment, ScienceSoft’s cybersecurity engineers usually follow four basic steps: Planning, Scanning, Analysis, and Treating Vulnerabilities.
First, you need to define the goals and scope of the process. This includes analyzing the as-is state of the entire IT infrastructure, identifying the testing targets, and choosing the right vulnerability scanner.
During this step, the targets are scanned with the selected vulnerability assessment tool and the list of the identified vulnerabilities is created.
This step helps you understand the reasons behind the detected vulnerabilities, their possible impact, and how they can be alleviated. You can also prioritize threats based on severity, urgency, potential damage, risk, and other factors.
With the flaws identified and analyzed, the next step is to decide how you want to fix them. Basically, there are two options: remediation and mitigation. Remediation occurs when the threat can be fixed immediately, while mitigation is used to reduce the likelihood of a vulnerability if there is no proper solution or patch at this moment.
Vulnerability assessment typically implies the use of vulnerability scanners that are designed to identify threats and flaws in an organization's IT environment.
There are four main types of vulnerability scanners based on the type of assets they scan:
- Network-based scanners
These scanners identify flaws in wired and wireless networks.
- Host-based scanners
Host-based scanners examine any possible threats in servers, workstations, or other network hosts. They also provide a thorough examination of ports and services.
- Web application scanners
This type of scanner involves the evaluation of web applications to detect security loopholes like incorrect configuration.
- Database scanners
Database scanners can identify weak points in a database to prevent malicious attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), SQL injection, and brute force attacks.
There are several factors that affect the cost of vulnerability testing, including the complexity of the IT infrastructure environment, the nature and number of testing targets, the experience of the testing provider, the costs of scanning tools’ licenses, remedial actions, and more.
Improve your cybersecurity posture
In today’s constantly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape, regular vulnerability assessment will help you not only combat newly arising threats but also make your organization cyber-resilient over time. So, if your company is looking for a way to strengthen its entire cybersecurity posture, don’t hesitate to contact ScienceSoft’s cybersecurity team.