Network Vulnerability Assessment | Overview

Network Vulnerability Assessment - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft has been providing network vulnerability assessment services since 2015.

Network Vulnerability Assessment: Summary

Network vulnerability assessment includes scanning for, detecting, and analyzing security vulnerabilities within a corporate network infrastructure and aims to ensure its resilience to common cybersecurity threats. 

It’s obligatory to carry out vulnerability assessment to comply with the majority of regulatory standards (HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.). Usually, assessment is followed by penetration testing to exploit identified vulnerabilities and find ways to reduce detected security risks.

The assessment may take from 3-4 days (for a small network) to 2-3 weeks (for midsize and large networks). The process requires a team of a lead security engineer and a security engineer, and its cost starts from $5,000.

Network Vulnerability Assessment Methods

The choice of a vulnerability assessment method depends on whether you need to test your network to external threats (by intruders outside the network) or internal threats (by authenticated users or intruders who managed to penetrate the network perimeter):

Black box

Scanning for vulnerabilities without any information on a target network. The external network perimeter is a starting point for scanning.

White box

Assessing the network vulnerability ‘from the inside’ (having all the knowledge about the network).

Gray box

Searching for vulnerabilities in the network, having some information about it (e.g., user login details), but without access to the entire network.

Network Vulnerability Assessment Plan

A network vulnerability assessment plan depends on the complexity and size of your network infrastructure and the type of the targeted environment (production, development, etc.). Based on the portfolio of 150+ cybersecurity projects, ScienceSoft outlines some general steps that are characteristic of all network vulnerability assessment projects.

Step 1. Network vulnerability scan planning and design

Duration: 1-10 days

  • Defining network vulnerability assessment goals (e.g., network segmentation check, malware scanning, preparing for HIPAA compliance audit).
  • Creating a checklist of the network segments and software to be assessed.
  • Selecting a vulnerability scanning tool that can be configured to bypass specific network firewall rules and restrictions.
  • Choosing between an external vulnerability scan (for the part of the network exposed to the internet) and an internal vulnerability scan (for the internal corporate network).
  • Scheduling the vulnerability scan (usually for non-business hours).

Step 2. Configuring the scan

Duration: ~1 day

  • Defining target IPs by specifying hardware or software they belong to.
  • Adding the list of target IP addresses to the vulnerability scanning tool.
  • Scanning the network for open ports and defining port ranges and protocol types (TCP or UDP).
  • Setting up the aggressiveness level of the scan, its duration, and completeness notifications.

Expert tip: ScienceSoft’s security engineers typically set up scan aggressiveness at a medium level as a high scan may influence the performance of the entities you scan due to the increased consumption of network resources.

Step 3. Scanning for vulnerabilities

Duration: 1-5 days

  • Scanning the targeted networks and software via manually tuned automated scanning tool.

Step 4. Analysis of the scan results

Duration: 1-3 days

  • Manually filtering out false positives and validating the identified security vulnerabilities.
  • Analysing root causes and potential impact of the found vulnerabilities.

Expert tip: ScienceSoft recommends reaching out for penetration testing to see whether a real-life attacker can exploit the detected vulnerabilities.

Step 5. Reporting the vulnerabilities discovered

Duration: 1-2 days

  • Creating a remediation and mitigation plan for discovered vulnerabilities.
  • Delivering a detailed final report with recommendations for remediation and mitigation of the discovered vulnerabilities.

Expert tip: ScienceSoft’s cybersecurity consultants opt for performing network vulnerability assessment quarterly (monthly or weekly in case of strict compliance requirements) and each time after introducing major changes to the network (e.g., adding or removing hardware and software components).

Consider Professional Network Vulnerability Assessment Services

ScienceSoft’s 18-year experience in information security allows us to expertly plan and conduct network vulnerability assessment.

Network vulnerability assessment consulting

  • Choosing a vulnerability assessment method according to your specific goals.
  • Selecting a vulnerability scanning tool.
  • Providing recommendations on vulnerability ranking criteria.
  • Drawing up a vulnerability mitigation plan.
  • Advising on meeting compliance requirements with industry standards and regulations (HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR).

Network vulnerability assessment outsourcing (one-time or continuous)

  • Gathering information on your network infrastructure.
  • Identifying existing vulnerabilities in the network and manually filtering out false-positive results.
  • Quantifying and ranking the found vulnerabilities.
  • Drawing up a detailed vulnerability assessment report.
  • Providing a strategy for vulnerabilities remediation and mitigation.
  • Assessing compliance with specific standards and regulations (HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR).

ScienceSoft as a trusted information security provider

We are fully satisfied with our partnership with ScienceSoft. Their engineers detected vulnerabilities in the testing targets and classified them by their severity in line with OWASP TOP 10 threat classification. Also, the team assessed the security level of the testing targets by exploiting vulnerabilities. 

Upon retesting, ScienceSoft delivered a report with overall penetration testing findings, including a list of uncovered vulnerabilities, possible risks, and recommended corrective measures.

Rostyslav-Pavlo Shemeliak, Vice-President, Stobox

Human Resources Required for Network Vulnerability Assessment

Lead security engineer

  • Leads the vulnerability assessment team.
  • Mentors security engineers in vulnerability assessment techniques.
  • Develops vulnerability scan schedules.
  • Suggests remediation strategies for discovered security vulnerabilities.

Security engineer

  • Performs comprehensive vulnerability assessments from configuring the scan to reporting scan results.
  • Configures and operates vulnerability assessment tools.
  • Reports on technical and procedural findings of vulnerability tests.
  • Manually validates vulnerability findings for false positives and documents the findings.

One security engineer is enough to tackle vulnerability assessment of a small network (up to 50 IPs).

Network Vulnerability Assessment Sourcing Models

In-house network vulnerability assessment

Pros:

  • Full control over the network vulnerability assessment process.
  • Ensured privacy and increased security of your business processes and corporate data.

Cons:

  • Less informative and biased reports. In-house security engineers tend to think ‘inside the box’ due to the familiarity of the targeted network and can miss unobvious vulnerable network spots.

One-time outsourced vulnerability assessment to prepare for a compliance audit

Pros:

  • Unbiased third-party vulnerability assessment trusted by compliance audit organizations.

Cons:

  • Relatively high costs for a one-time service.

Regular outsourced network vulnerability assessment

Pros:

  • Comprehensive assessment reports from a specialized provider.
  • Reduced times and costs of subsequent vulnerability assessments in case of long-term service provision.

Cons:

  • Risks of contracting vulnerability assessment to a mediocre vendor that will miss the same vulnerabilities again and again.

Network Vulnerability Assessment Software ScienceSoft Recommends

Vulnerability assessment tools help reveal major Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) vulnerabilities.

During the vulnerability assessment projects, ScienceSoft’s cybersecurity engineers often implement the following vulnerability scanners as they provide high-quality assessment reports and frequently update their vulnerability databases.

Nessus

Best for: vulnerability scanning of the external network perimeter

Description

A Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Vulnerability Risk Management, Q4 2019.

Rated the highest of all 2020 Customers' Choice vendors in Product Capabilities in the 2020 Gartner Voice of the Customer Report.

  • Classifying found vulnerabilities into Critical, High, Medium, Low, and Info based on Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) score.
  • Vulnerability Priority Rating provides recommendations on which vulnerabilities pose the greatest risk.
  • Customizable assessment reports in a variety of formats (HTML, CSV and PDF), including showing specific vulnerability types, vulnerabilities by host or by plugin.
  • The Live Results feature enables the application of the updated Nessus plugins to the data of the previous scans to check for new vulnerabilities without running the scan anew.
  • Grouping together and presenting in one thread similar issues or categories of vulnerabilities, optimizing the time to research and prioritize issues for remediation.

Pricing

  • Essentials*: free.
  • Professional: $4,000/year.
  • Tenable.io: $3,000/year.

*Allows scanning up to 16 IPs

Nexpose

Best for: сomprehensive vulnerability assessment of the internal network

Description

A Challenger in 2017, 2018, and 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing.

A Strong performer in The Forrester Wave™: Managed Detection And Response, Q1 2021

  • Real Risk Score provides a detailed 1-1,000 risk score of discovered vulnerabilities, taking into account vulnerability age and public exploits/malware kits associated with each vulnerability to highlight the vulnerabilities most likely to be used in an attack.
  • Providing integrated policy scanning to help benchmark a network against popular security frameworks (e.g., CIS, NIST).
  • Providing vulnerability descriptions, and attack replay functionality, and recommendations, which helps patch vulnerabilities.
  • Nexpose Adaptive Security automatically detects and assesses new devices and vulnerabilities when they appear in a network.

Pricing

  • 30-days trial: free.
  • Paid subscription: prices are available by request.

OpenVAS

Best for: assessing the network perimeter and evaluating the external security posture

Description

Advanced open-source network security scanner.

  • Helps discover outdated network services, missing security patches, misconfigured servers, and other vulnerabilities.
  • Highly intuitive and easy-to-use interface.
  • More than 57,000 plugins to perform an in-depth network vulnerability test.

Pricing

  • Trial version: free.
  • Professional edition: prices are available by request.

Network Vulnerability Assessment Costs

Network vulnerability assessment costs may range greatly from project to project. Here we highlight essential vulnerability assessment cost factors:

  • The complexity of the network infrastructure.
  • Network size (the number of IPs, applications scanned, etc.).
  • The types and number of assessment goals (e.g., network segmentation check, malware scanning, checking compliance with HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.).
  • Service provision model (one-time or long-term, as long-term relationships with a vendor may reduce subsequent costs).

Note: In case of in-house network vulnerability assessment, additional costs also include vulnerability scanning tool licensing (usually charged as a subscription-based fee).

Here is a sample vulnerability assessment project with $5,000+ cost:

  • Assessment method: black box.
  • Assessment goal: assessing compliance with HIPAA.
  • The number of targeted IPs: up to 200.
About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, TX. Since 2003, ScienceSoft provides vulnerability assessment and security testing services to help companies locate and mitigate network vulnerabilities and meet compliance requirements. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee data security to our customers during cooperation.