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What is Vulnerability Assessment?

When you do business online, you face problems – you solve them; you come across vulnerabilities – you mitigate them. Vulnerabilities expose you in the form of information system failures, system security loopholes, internal control errors, or faulty implementation, and all these scenarios threaten the business. A vulnerability assessment scans your digital assets and systematically reviews infrastructure to detect vulnerabilities and suggest remedial solutions. 

What Is Vulnerability Assessment, And What Does It Do?

A security vulnerability assessment program brings a three-pronged approach to locating and remedying cybersecurity threats:

  • We are bringing the tools necessary to scan for errors and comprehend weaknesses minutely.
  • Analyze and categorize the risks integral to each category of weakness.
  • Plug the loopholes and put protections in place that mitigate the chances of a breach.

The merging of newer processes in older systems, the transit period following new equipment installation, open ports providing pathways for attackers, and migration of a business to the cloud are when IT systems are most vulnerable.

The vulnerability assessment covering each momentous change pinpoints and collects information regarding vulnerabilities, gives insights regarding the risks attached to every weakness, and offers solutions that prevent defects from evolving into dangerous threats. 

The Types Of Vulnerability Assessment Tools And What They Probe

The steady rise in cybercrime has expanded network security importance

A serious attempt is in the process to weaponize businesses with various types of vulnerability assessment tools, scanners, and methods that expose loopholes in the system or network:

  • Network-Based Vulnerability Scanning probes geographically distributed machines and applications to detect security gaps in networks and communication systems. The goal is to prioritize network threats, identify compromised passwords, and assess how strongly networks stand up to persistent attacks. 
  • Host-Based Scanning details a comprehensive vulnerability assessment checklist of the host’s security status, documenting the relative strengths of the host’s IP address, its operating system, the antivirus software in use, and personal firewall protection capabilities. 
  • Wireless Network Scanning tests each device connected to Wireless Networks (WLAN) to assess and identify weak points that unscrupulous actors may use to gain access. Vulnerability scanning assumes importance when multiple devices connect to a single network in the Internet of Things (IoT). 
  • Applications Scanning analyzes web and mobile applications by cross-checking the code with a preset checklist of manifested errors to detect software discrepancies and erroneous configurations that signal weak security architecture. Scanning is necessary after changes and updates in applications. 
  • Database Scanning protects the most critical asset in cyberspace – data. Scanning detects weak vendor accounts, misconfigured connections, missing security patches, and unauthorized access, among other threats. The weak spots are identified, analyzed for risk prioritization, and marked for remedial action.  

Vulnerability Scanning Vs. Penetration Testing: Knowing The Difference 

The criticality of cyber security is changing the way businesses look at their digital assets and be aware of one’s vulnerabilities, if only to emerge more robust in the face of cybercrime. 

The lowdown on what distinguishes vulnerability assessment and penetration testing:

Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment

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Automated vulnerability assessment software probes and lists the vulnerabilities of a network or system. The listing identifies the weaknesses and ranks them from low-risk or medium to high-risk. 

Sometimes, a false-positive result may occur even though the underlying functionality works perfectly. 

Vulnerability testing doesn’t exploit weaknesses after detecting them. Taking remedial action rests with the company and its IT staff.  

Penetration Testing

Where network vulnerability assessment automatically identifies and lists the weaknesses in a system, penetration testing goes above and beyond to identify and exploit the vulnerability to penetrate the network or system. 

Penetration testing requires a different level of expertise where the systems engineer behaves like a hacker attempting to access a system. Using the “hacker’s code” aims to bring down servers barriers and gain inside access if only to prove that the system is vulnerable and needs strengthening.  

1. The Difference Between Vulnerability Assessment And Penetration Testing Lies In The Coverage

Vulnerability assessment examines a vast spectrum of structural configurations and paints a broad picture of security weaknesses and their risk weightage. 

Penetration goes deeper and tests the architecture to assess if it’s impenetrable and hack-proof. 

2. The Degree To Which The Process Is Automated Or Manual

Vulnerability assessment uses automated tools to gather a listing of structural weaknesses.

Penetration processes are partially automated but largely manual interventions requiring qualified and highly experienced engineers.

3. The Level Of Expertise That Penetration Testing Requires

The Vulnerability assessment tools are primarily automated and usually the domain of the in-house security team. 

The penetration testing expert complies with Offensive Security certifications (OSCP/OSCE), CISSP, CISA, and CISM certifications. The specialist will also be familiar with domain architecture (Microsoft) and network engineering (Cisco). 

Conclusion

The unpatched security loophole, the unknown and unlocked entry point account for most modern systems breaches, and businesses needed to look no further for a reason to impenetrably fence their cybersecurity landscape. 

Network vulnerability assessment is not just a security imperative for businesses; compliance with regulatory norms and data protection regulations is mandatory as companies scale from local to global. The tangible benefits will be apparent in risk mitigation that infuses higher levels of efficiency into business processes.  

If you want to run a security vulnerability assessment on your web application or API, engage a partner to crash-test the most significant vulnerabilities and set in motion remedial measures within minutes. 

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