Trends in Technology

What Is Vulnerability Assessment, and Why Is it Necessary?

November 6, 2022 by Jared McCarley
Read similar articles in: Business Technology, Industry Stories

Vulnerability Assessment | Cycbersecurity issues are becoming worse every day, and the number of businesses being breached or attacked is increasing yearly. Just last year, businesses experienced 50% more cyber attacks per week than the previous year.

What’s even more alarming is that 83% SMBs are financially unprepared to recover from a successful cyber attack. Network security requirements are constantly changing and improving to combat many known issues and vulnerabilities.

Similarly, businesses who opt for regular and comprehensive vulnerability assessments are less prone to cyber attacks because these assessments help them understand the weak points of their IT infrastructure.

Let’s discuss vulnerability assessment and why it is necessary for any modern business.

What Is Vulnerability Assessment?

Also known as vulnerability analysis, vulnerability assessment is a process of identifying, testing, and analyzing cyber security weaknesses of an IT system or infrastructure. It tests the level of threat and security present within the environment of your IT systems.

A vulnerability assessment thoroughly evaluates systems to unearth and identify existing and potential threats that may compromise your business’ security or operations. This assessment allows you to remediate the known vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious software or bad actors.

The main goal of vulnerability assessment is to minimize the threat of cyber attacks by finding “vulnerabilities” and giving you a chance to correct them.

People in the cybersecurity industry, including experienced professionals, often use the term “penetration testing” interchangeably with a vulnerability assessment. However, this is incorrect because penetration testing is the practice of simulating cyber attacks in real-life to identify possible paths that a cybercriminal may take to breach a system. This is quite different from vulnerability assessment, which scans, discovers, and quantifies the level of weaknesses in a system.

While vulnerability assessment is a comprehensive process, it involves different types of assessments or scans.

Types of Vulnerability Assessment Scans

Vulnerability assessment scans can be classified according to what they scan, where they scan, or who they are scanning for.
Let’s dive deeper into the various scans to better understand.

By Asset

Five types of digital assets can be scanned in a vulnerability assessment. They categorize scanners by the type of asset.

1. Wireless network scanners: These allow you to identify any unauthorized open wireless networks in your organization’s workspace or environment.

2. Network-based scanners: These identify any unauthorized users or devices accessing your business network. They also allow administrators to identify vulnerabilities such as unauthorized remote access to the network.

3. Database scanners: These scan your database for vulnerabilities and help identify malicious code like an SQL injection.

4. Application scanners: These are some of the most common scanners that allow you to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in web applications or websites.

5. Host-based scanners: These scan network hosts such as servers and workstations on your network for any vulnerabilities or weaknesses.

By Origin

There are two types of vulnerability assessment scans categorized by their origin or where they are scanning.

1. Internal scanners: These implement vulnerability assessment scans from inside an organization’s network to target things like malware and other internal threats that may harm business operations or critical applications.

2. External scanners: These implement vulnerability assessment scans from outside an organization’s network to target things like Internet exposure, web application, and network firewalls.

By Authentication

There are two types of vulnerability assessment scans categorized by the type of authentication.

1. Authenticated scanning: These allow administrators to log into the network as a trusted user and identify network vulnerabilities from that perspective.

2. Unauthenticated scanning: These allow administrators to scan for vulnerabilities without logging in to the network, giving them an outsider’s perspective on things.

Why Is Vulnerability Assessment Necessary?

The importance and necessity of vulnerability assessment cannot be overstated for businesses and other organizations. While it may have been a luxury in the past, these days, it is one of the most crucial aspects of robust cybersecurity.

Here are a few reasons it is necessary for businesses and other organizations.

• Comprehensive Assessment

Implemented correctly with effective and complete planning, vulnerability assessments provide a comprehensive outlook on all the weaknesses of your IT infrastructure and systems. They identify the vast majority of vulnerabilities that may cause problems in the future.

Of course, you should seek help from the right professionals like IT consultancy Percento Technologies to help you with comprehensive vulnerability assessments that are tailored to your business.

• Compliance Regulations

Some businesses and organizations may also be obligated to carry out regular vulnerability assessments to remain compliant. As cyber threats and attacks become more of an issue, more regulators and clients are enforcing vulnerability assessments as part of various compliance practices.

A few examples of standards and compliance regulations implementing vulnerability assessments are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPRs).

The main reason these standards are enforcing vulnerability assessments is to ensure that sensitive customer data is protected by businesses at all times.

• Stay Ahead of Bad Actors

Vulnerability assessment scans allow your organization to stay ahead of malicious software and bad actors. You can find weaknesses before cybercriminals do to exploit your sensitive data, networks, systems, or operations.

This is important because a vast majority of cybercriminals actively look for weaker systems to exploit. If your IT infrastructure and systems are without vulnerabilities, most cybercriminals will turn away to target other organizations with weaker security.

• Remediation

Perhaps the most obvious reason why vulnerability assessment is necessary is that it allows your business or organization to fix any problems that may potentially cause harm to your IT systems or business operations.

Depending on the report of the assessment, you can start by tackling the most vulnerable flaws and work your way down. Sometimes, comprehensive assessments may also indicate minor threats that are not worth fixing or require solutions that aren’t cost-effective or beneficial to your business or cybersecurity in any way.

• Evaluate Third-Party Performance

If your business or organization uses third-party IT solutions, services, or vendors for any number of reasons, a vulnerability assessment can also help you cross-check and evaluate their performance. This can be very helpful if your business is dependent on third-party solutions.

• Save Time, Money, Resources, and Reputation

The average security breach or cyber attack can cost a business millions of dollars in wasted time, money, and resources. Moreover, it can cripple your business operations, hamper revenue, or worse, soil your brand name and business reputation.

Imagine all your sensitive business data, including employee and customer data, gets leaked into the public sphere. Do you think your business can recover from such a tragedy? Will your customers, clients, or partners ever trust your business again?

Regular vulnerability assessments help you prevent security breaches and cyber attacks that eventually lead to such daunting experiences.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what vulnerability assessment is and why it is necessary for your business or organization. We highly recommend that you hire or partner with a good IT consultancy to help you effectively implement a comprehensive vulnerability assessment.

Please get in touch with our team if you’re thinking of improving your cybersecurity and IT infrastructure through a vulnerability assessment. We have ample experience and will ensure your unique business or organization is well protected from internal and external threats.