What is a vulnerability assessment (and why it isn't enough)
It’s pretty obvious to say it but, the world has changed a lot in the last two decades and that is largely thanks to the way the digital world has taken over so many of our day-to-day lives and the way we work. Therefore, it is important to realise that when we come to speak about cybersecurity and cyber threats, vulnerability assessments are no longer enough to keep our organisations safe. Why? Because the more technology advances the more vast and complex these threats have become.
Whilst we need to continue to do vulnerability assessments - after all they are important - we need to do more as well.
In this article we are going to take a closer look at what a vulnerability assessment is, why they are important, the different types of vulnerability assessments and why they are not enough.
What is a Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying, classifying, and prioritising security vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure. When undertaking vulnerability assessments, they are designed to assess and evaluate whether an IT system is exposed to known vulnerabilities and in response to these vulnerabilities, assign severity levels to each one. Following that, there are recommendations provided to help remedy or mitigate steps where required.
A vulnerability assessment is a common security procedure and provides a detailed view of the security risks an organisation may face, enabling them to better protect their information technology and sensitive data from cyber threats.
But, a vulnerability assessment is one important component in an organisation’s overall cybersecurity strategy. There are other things an organisation should and must do when it comes to their own cybersecurity strategy.
Why Vulnerability Assessment is Important
We understand that a vulnerability assessment is still needed in today’s fast paced and fast moving cyber society but why is it important if it is only part of your cybersecurity strategy?
The short answer is that a vulnerability assessment is important because it helps to provide you with security weaknesses in your environment and helps to provide direction on how to remediate or mitigate the issues before they can be exploited.
Of course, there are other reasons why you should carry out a vulnerability assessment and these include;
- Creates and inventory of all assets and risks
What is more or less at risk and what needs addressing.
- Establishes a basis for risk / benefit evaluation.
What do you need to do as an organisation to assess what the risks are and how to best benefit from it.
Types of Vulnerability Assessment
There are different types of vulnerability assessments which are designed to discover different types of system or network vulnerabilities and these include:
- Network-based assessment: what are the possible network security issues and how to detect vulnerable systems on wired and wireless networks.
- Host-based assessment: This is assessing vulnerabilities in servers, workstations, and other network hosts. Things such as open ports and services can offer visibility into the configuration settings and patch management of scanned systems.
- Wireless network assessment: This is assessing the Wi-Fi networks and wireless network infrastructure. It can validate that your company's network is securely configured to prevent unauthorised access and can also identify rogue access points.
- Application assessment: What are the security vulnerabilities in web applications and their source code by using automated vulnerability scanning tools on the front-end or static/dynamic analysis of source code.
- Database assessment: The assessment of databases or big data systems for vulnerabilities and misconfiguration.
Why a Vulnerability Assessment is Not Enough
As described in the earlier section of the article, vulnerability assessments are important and needed as part of your cybersecurity strategy; however, they are not the only assessment tools you should be using. Whilst they form part of the cybersecurity strategy, there are disadvantages which translate into being not enough for many organisations, this includes;
- Vulnerability report is just a starting point.
- Fixing and patching vulnerabilities is a manual process. Fixing issues still requires action from your team and can take a significant amount of time to resolve. This means that the impact of the most critical vulnerabilities may not be addressed in time before it happens.
- Resolving identified vulnerabilities can be highly technical requiring specialist skills.
- It’s easy to underestimate just what is required when it comes to fixing these issues. Specialist skills are needed for many highly technical fixes.
- Vulnerability scans will not detect all weaknesses.
- Automated tools won’t catch all the issues that haven’t emerged or of emergent new threats. Some of these may be critical and could lead to big issues if not caught.
- Security breaches can be because of unpatched vulnerabilities.
In a recent report, nearly 60% of security breaches involved unpatched vulnerabilities.
Whilst vulnerability management is an essential part of cybersecurity, it is not the only solution you should consider to help protect your organisation.
Wrap Up Paragraph
Keeping your business safe from cyber attacks has become commonplace - especially in today’s fast paced society and performing a vulnerability assessment is a great starting point. These assessments help to identify, classify, and prioritise security vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure. However, they are not the only things you need to get ahead of your cybersecurity needs as they can often miss new vulnerabilities and require specialist skills to help patch up old ones as well.
If you are looking to get a better understanding of where your organisation’s cyber weaknesses lie, Bluefort’s Evolve IT Services can not only help you to get a much better understanding of these threats but also provide you with the solutions to protect your organisation in the long term. Call, 01252 917000 , email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with us via our contact form.