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How Proactive Vulnerability Assessments Keeps your Network Secure

Two security-related exercises to determine the vulnerabilities in your environment

Enterprise businesses have learned the hard way that taking cybersecurity lightly – or better yet, deprioritizing it on the ever-growing list of IT projects – comes at a major cost. Cyberattacks have increased in volume and complexity. Today’s hackers use sophisticated tools to circumvent traditional network security deployments, using IoT-based attacks to execute phishing, ransomware, and supply chain hacks at will. Complex attacks such as the recent SolarWinds hack or Colonial Pipeline breach created backdoor access using malware, holding valuable data ransom and costing the businesses millions. Uneven security protections, unpatched security vulnerabilities, and bugs make their task easy. In this blog, we’ll walk through two security-related exercises that you can execute quickly to determine the vulnerabilities in your environment and build proof of their validity.

Vulnerability Assessment

Most enterprises need a generational overhaul of their security measures. A vulnerability assessment is the first step towards developing a comprehensive network security plan because it helps to identify the threats and risks inherent in your network and classifies them in severity. It provides a comprehensive look into the state of your network assets and pre-empts data breaches, malware injection, and theft of sensitive data.

There are many different types of vulnerability assessments, including:

  • Network-based scans that detect vulnerable systems connected to the network.
  • Host-based scans that identify vulnerabilities in the servers and workstations. These scans shed light on the configuration of the network and the patches in place.
  • Wireless network scans that identify weak spots on the wireless network structure. These scans identify faulty or rogue access points and check if the network configuration is proper.
  • Application scans that check websites for software vulnerabilities and network configuration errors.
  • Database scans that identify faulty connections in the database.

The next step after identifying the weaknesses in your environment is to deploy a penetration test to build proof that a threat is imminent and understand what steps you need to take to remediate the issues.

Penetration Test

A penetration test exploits weaknesses to highlight vulnerabilities in the system architecture. During a penetration test, a system engineer “thinks like a hacker” and mimics the strategies and actions a hacker would take in an attempt to penetrate the network. The exercise unearths applications susceptible to code injection attacks, faulty configurations of the API, and other loose ends. The test results reveal the vulnerabilities exploited, sensitive data accessed, and the time the penetration tester remained in the system undetected. These insights make up the basis for remedial measures.

The ever-evolving nature of vulnerabilities shifts the goalpost frequently, with threats emerging and changing by the day. Cyber attackers remain in the business because of their resiliency and ability to constantly evolve their tactics, avoiding what worked against them previously. Regular vulnerability assessment and penetration tests are the way to remain ahead in this game of one-upmanship.

Remediation & Management

It doesn’t make business sense to patch each vulnerability, though. Sheer volumes make it unviable. A vulnerability assessment will help prioritize the risks, allowing enterprises to focus on the more dangerous threats first. But, identifying the most dangerous threats can depend on your business. A risk assessment should take a holistic approach that combines the organizational context, the rating of the risk, and asset demographics.

Identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing security vulnerabilities is always a race against time. Vulnerability Management-as-a-Service (VMaaS) offers a cost-effective and sustainable way towards such ends by outsourcing the day-to-day assessment and remediation of your security vulnerabilities to a certified Security Operations Center (SOC) or Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP).

Fully managed vulnerability assessments at customer-specified intervals make it easy to identify the most potent threats to your network. Automated tools offer deep visibility needed to shrink the time gap between knowing and acting on the vulnerabilities. It provides a multi-pronged approach to maintain the integrity of the network:

  • Gap analysis: The vulnerability assessment identifies the actual state of the network. A gap analysis compares the ideal state with the actual state.
  • Threat contextualization: Prioritizing the vulnerabilities based on the business impact. For instance, the risk to customer data is much more serious than the risk to legacy marketing archives.
  • Risk reporting: Timely escalation of the most dangerous threats pre-empts losses. Dynamic security risk reporting enables prompt counter-measures.
  • Patches: Patch recommendations and remediation validation are solutions to the risks unearthed during the vulnerability assessment. Patches resolve the issues unearthed during the vulnerability assessment and reduce the gap.

Vulnerability Management as a Service is the first step towards a fully managed security service that keeps your business safe from threats. Contact us today to get started.