How to Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

15.04.2020 Read
How to Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

A considerable portion of cyber-attacks target simple and unnoticed security vulnerabilities, that is why conducting a thorough vulnerability assessment is vital for each and every organization. Read our article to learn more.

As the technology advances, a vast majority of the business processes are realized online. Each and every day we share important files, send e-mails, conduct communication with our team and customers, and we do all these tasks online. Moreover, some organizations offer their services in the virtual domain or have most of their company assets online.

As a result, the digital world is filled with valuable and often sensitive information that appeals many hackers and cyber criminals. Since the information is one of the most crucial assets of any organization, digital realm is almost a paradise for hackers. You might think that your organization is safe since you don’t make million dollars but most hackers and cyber criminals target smaller organizations since most of them don’t have hefty and expensive security measures. That is why it is very important to know how safe your organization is and what you can do to enhance its security posture.

In order to get a 360-degree view of the security posture of your organization, you can conduct a comprehensive vulnerability assessment.

What is a vulnerability assessment?

The term vulnerability assessment (also known as the vulnerability testing) refers to the specific processes that are designed to evaluate the security risks, weaknesses and strengths of an organization, piece of hardware or a software system.

The main aim of vulnerability assessment is to detect the exploitable errors and weak points, also known as the vulnerabilities. You can think of vulnerabilities as the cracks on the thick walls that surround your organization. With the help of these walls you can keep the intruders and hackers out. If there are many cracks on these walls, intruders can exploit them and find their way in. That is why you need to pay great attention to the security measures of your organization.

What is the difference between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing?

Often, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are confused since both processes aim to detect the weaknesses of an organization. Moreover, a proper penetration testing also includes a vulnerability assessment.

In vulnerability assessment, the exploitable weaknesses are detected and alleviated accordingly. On the other hand, penetration testing (also known as the pen testing) involves actual attempts to exploit these weaknesses. Penetration testing aims to detect how long it takes for an intruder to gain unauthorized access through these vulnerabilities and how long the intruders can go unnoticed once they are ‘inside.’

How can I conduct a vulnerability assessment?

If you’d like to conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment, you need to follow five basic steps: Planning, scanning, analysis, alleviation and regular repetitions. Below you can find the details of each step and why they are important.

Planning: In this step, you need to decide which assets you want to examine.

Scanning: This step involves the active scan of the system or network using threat intelligence, automated tools and vulnerability databases.

Anaylsis: In this step, you need to take a closer look at the reasons behind the detected vulnerabilities, their possible impact and how they can be alleviated.

Alleviation: Also known as the remediation, this step aims to patch the important issues that compromises the security of your organization.

Repeat: Vulnerability management is a process. You must schedule regular assessments in order to keep up with the security needs of your organization. That is why you need to set a new date to conduct vulnerability assessment after completing one.

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