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What is a vulnerability assessment?

You may have heard about vulnerability assessments, and wondered to yourself whether your company needs one, whether you are at risk, and what it should include.

So, what is a vulnerability assessment? It's essentially a test of your network environment to seek out weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers or cybercriminals—often weaknesses or vulnerabilities that you do not know about. This evaluation includes identifying current and potential threats throughout your entire network, looking from both an internal and external perspective. Understanding vulnerabilities can be a complex business, and the issues are far more prevalent than most people realize. Most organizations have a wide swath of attack surfaces among interconnected apps which can all affect your network security. And the stakes are high. Did you know unpatched vulnerabilities play a role in well over half of the data breaches organizations endure?

Vulnerability assessment: What does it include?

A vulnerability assessment starts with what's known as a vulnerability scanner, which runs a scan to test for specific vulnerabilities that are known. After the scan, a report is generated that details the vulnerabilities that were found and the level of concern about that vulnerability. In addition, there are instructions provided that will guide you on how to correct the vulnerability.

Keep in mind this process is not something you have to do on your own. An IT security partner with qualified security engineers can examine those results and provide detailed information about the risks associated with the identified vulnerabilities. This includes prioritization of the vulnerabilities found throughout the network based on the amount of risk each and exploitable potential each one carries. This allows you to focus on remediating the most critical vulnerabilities first.

This is where having supplemental IT security expertise can be especially helpful, as both patching and updating software can be time-consuming and demanding on internal IT resources that are already at capacity for the workload. More, legacy systems and third-party apps can make the work even more difficult.

In 2020 alone, an average of 230 vulnerabilities was discovered weekly making it incredibly difficult to keep pace with the number of system vulnerabilities that required patching. That’s why it’s essential to establish a patching plan and deployment cadence. An industry best practice is to designate a date and time each month when patches and other updates will be applied. And a good rule of thumb is to deploy them within 30 days of their release date and if possible, deploy operating system patches even sooner. No organization will ever be completely vulnerability-free. It’s a balancing act in an attempt to keep vulnerabilities down to a minimum and it will require constant vigilance.

Yet we cannot overstate the importance of addressing vulnerabilities and the scope of the job—tens of thousands of new vulnerabilities are reported every year. The best approach is to tackle these challenges head-on with a knowledgeable IT security partner who understands these vulnerabilities and stays current on the latest threats to your business.

Vulnerability assessments: an opportunity to protect your data

Cybercriminals are just waiting with bated breath for the chance to exploit your network vulnerabilities gain access to your valuable data. What's at risk is everything from employee information, to client data, to finances, and more. That old saying is true, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” A vulnerability assessment is a great way to find out where your network is exploitable and where the bad guys might make their initial attempts to compromise your network. Working with someone like Locknet can help uncover these vulnerabilities, prioritize them and apply automated remediation to decrease your exposure and overall risk footprint.

A vulnerability assessment puts you in control of the network security of your business. Ready to get started? Contact us for more information about how a vulnerability assessment can help protect your business from hackers and other cybercriminals.

 

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