Vulnerability assessment is the course of identifying, classifying and prioritizing security susceptibility in IT infrastructure. A comprehensive vulnerability assessment evaluates whether an IT system is unmasked to known vulnerabilities, assigns severity ranks to identified vulnerabilities, and recommends remediation or mitigation routes where needed.
Vulnerability assessments are a common software security testing procedure as they furnish a detailed prospect of the security risks an institution may face, empowering them to better secure their information technology and delicate data from cyber risks.
Vulnerabilities can be found in applications handled by third-party dealers or internally produced software, and multiple bugs are easily disposed of once identified.
Why is Vulnerability Assessment Important?
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Vulnerability assessment is consequential because it provides you with information about the security demerits in your context and provides a directive on how to remediate or alleviate the issues before they can be exploited.
This software security testing operation provides a better disposition of your IT infrastructure, security flaws and overall risk, which highly improves information protection and application security standards while reducing the probability that a cybercriminal will pick up unauthorized access to your institution.
Types of Vulnerability Assessment?
There are several types of vulnerability assessment such as:
- Network-based assessment: It is used to identify viable network security issues and can detect vulnerable systems on wired and wireless networks.
- Host-based assessment: It is used to detect and identify vulnerabilities in servers, workstations, and other network hosts. This scan generally examines open ports and services and can give visibility into the configuration settings and patch administration of inspected systems.
- Wireless network assessment: It is used to check Wi-Fi networks and attack vectors in the wireless network framework. It can authenticate that your company’s network is securely configured to avert unauthorized access and can also pinpoint rogue access points.
- Application assessment: It is identifying the security vulnerabilities in web applications or their source code using automated vulnerability scanning tools.
- Database assessment: The assessment of databases or big data networks for vulnerabilities and misconfiguration, identifying scamp databases or insecure dev/ test ambients, and classifying sensitive data to enhance data security.
Vulnerability assessment Security scanning process
The security testing process consists of four steps: testing, analysis, assessment and remediation. The vulnerability assessment process comprises analysis, threat assessment, remediation and repetition.
Vulnerability identification (testing)
This step aims to script a comprehensive list of an application’s vulnerabilities. Application security tests help professionals test the security health of applications, servers or other complexes by checking them with automated tools, or testing and assessing them manually. Analysts also count on vulnerability databases, vendor vulnerability announcements, asset management networks and threat intelligence feeds to distinguish security demerits.
This step intends to identify the cradle of the vulnerabilities identified in step one.
It involves the identification of system elements responsible for each vulnerability and the primary cause of the vulnerability. For instance, the root cause of a vulnerability could be an old version of an open-source library, which consequently provides a path for remediation, i.e. to upgrade the library.
The idea of this step is the prioritizing of vulnerabilities. It involves security evaluators entrusting a rank or severity score to each vulnerability, based on similar factors as :
- Which systems are affected?
- What data is at threat?
- Which business functions are at risk.
- Ease of attack or compromise.
- The severity of an attack.
- Possible damage as a result of the vulnerability.
The objective of this step is the finishing of security breaches. It is generally a joint effort by security testing staff, development and operations squads, who arbitrate the most effective path for mitigation of each vulnerability.
Specific remediation courses might include:
- Preface of new security procedures, measures or tools.
- The updating of functional or configuration changes.
- Development and perpetration of a vulnerability patch.
- Vulnerability assessment cannot be a one-off activity.
It is vital to foster cooperation between security, operation and development brigades – a process known as DevSecOps.
Vulnerability assessment is not a one-time process. Rather, it’s a regular exertion that must be done under expert guidance to assure that the institution’s system remains secure from any risk.
That is why the final step is to produce a cycle of this procedure according to your enterprise’s requirements. The significance of a vulnerability assessment increases when you have introduced a new prominent attribute, operation, or network into the framework.
Thus, you must make sure that the process gets repeated every once in a while, and the entire IT system remains secure.
Vulnerability assessment tools
Vulnerability assessment tools are designed to automatically examine for new and existing risks that can target your operation. Types of tools include:
- Web application scanners that test for and simulate specified attack figures.
- Protocol scanners that hunt for vulnerable protocols, ports and network services.
- Network scanners that support visualize networks and discover cautioning signals like stray IP addresses, spoofed packets and disputable packet generation from a single IP address.
The top vulnerability assessment tools include:
- Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
- SolarWinds Network Vulnerability Detection
- Nexpose Community
- Tripwire IP360
- Retina CS Community
- Nessus Professional
- Secunia Personal Software Inspector
It is a formal practice to schedule regular, automated reviews of all critical IT systems. The results of these reviews should be fed into the institution’s ongoing vulnerability assessment process.
What Potential Risks can be averted by Vulnerability Assessment?
Illustrations of cyber-attacks that can be prevented by vulnerability assessment include:
- Privilege escalation attacks: Privilege escalation is the exploitation of a programming error, vulnerability, design fault, configuration oversight or access control in an OS or application to gain unauthorized access to resources that are generally confined from the application or user.
- SQL injections: SQL injection attacks come about when invalidated or untrusted data is transferred to a code interpreter through form input or another data submission field in a web operation. Successful injection attacks can cause data leaks, data corruption, data infringements, loss of liability, and denial of access.
- XSS attacks: Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of security vulnerability commonly introduced in web applications. XSS enables hackers to fit customer-side scripts into web pages viewed by other users and may be used to circumnavigate access control, such as the same-origin policy. Depending on the delicacy of data handled by the vulnerable website and the nature of any mitigations enforced, The concussion of XSS can range from a small nuisance to a significant cybersecurity threat.
- Insecure defaults: It’s ubiquitous for software and hardware to dispatch with insecure settings, such as easily guessable passwords, to make onboarding more fluent. While this is good from a usability viewpoint, numerous people leave these default configurations intact which can leave them exposed.
No matter how secure and defended you keep your company’s ambient, intruders always find a way to get through the layers. It can be still assured that your system’s frail junctures do not bring about a more rigorous problem, by repeatedly performing the security testing course called vulnerability assessment.