<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/PMY3ZvbpZt27ywWwZSBB" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">


Remote Employees and Network Security

Working from home is not going anywhere. In fact, research shows that post-pandemic 42% of employees who worked strictly from a company-based location will not return to the office. Do you know how this will impact your business? Learn more about the tools needed to protect your client data and improve employee productivity.

vulnerability scanning

Vulnerability Scanning: What It Is and Why You Need It

Shannon Mayberry
3 min read
Nov 2, 2022 1:37:35 PM
This post covers:Your Business. Secure. | Managed IT

Updated April 1, 2024


Businesses and organizations of all sizes and across all industries are vulnerable to steadily increasing security risks. Vulnerability scanning is one of those things you probably should have started yesterday. But it’s never too late to learn more about vulnerability scanning and incorporate it into your cybersecurity plan.


What is a vulnerability?

A vulnerability is a loophole in your security that can be exploited by a bad actor to get unauthorized access or perform an unauthorized action on a computer, website, or network. Vulnerabilities create opportunities for attack through installing malware, running code, or hacking into sensitive data.


What is vulnerability scanning?

A thorough analysis of your network’s security requires a vulnerability scan. A vulnerability scan is an automated vulnerability management process conducted on a computer or network system to find potential points of exploitation. These automated security tools examine CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), weaknesses, misconfigurations, and flaws in an organization’s networks, systems, devices, and applications. Once the vulnerability scanning procedure is complete, a detailed report brings to light degrees of risk from each vulnerability and ways to mitigate them.

Different areas of an IT environment are typically scanned to provide a complete risk assessment.

  • External vulnerability scans. Conducted from outside the organization’s network perimeter, external vulnerability scans target external IP addresses. This type of scan checks a network’s firewall and other perimeter defenses.
  • Internal vulnerability scans. Testing every device on a network, these scans help identify vulnerabilities that leave a business at risk once a hacker or malware makes it inside.
  • Environmental scans. These scans are done based on the environment that a business technology operates in, such as the cloud.

What is an authenticated vulnerability scan?

An authenticated vulnerability scan is sometimes referred to as a “credentialed vulnerability scan.” The “credentials” refer to a valid account for a system. A credentialed vulnerability scan, or authenticated vulnerability scan, is a vulnerability scan that utilizes valid accounts (usernames and passwords) to log into target systems.


The difference between an authenticated and unauthenticated vulnerability scan

Because an authenticated vulnerability scan uses valid credentials to access the system being scanned, the scanner can conduct a more thorough assessment and access deeper layers of the system. This can potentially identify vulnerabilities that may not be visible externally. An authenticated vulnerability scan offers a more comprehensive view of the system's security posture, as it can detect vulnerabilities in software configurations, settings, and installed applications that require authentication to access. On the other hand, an unauthenticated vulnerability scan doesn't use valid credentials and only examines the external-facing aspects of a system, such as open ports and services, making it more limited in scope.


Vulnerability scanning vs. penetration testing

While you may have heard both terms when discussing your network security, a vulnerability scan is not the same as a penetration test. A penetration test, or pen test, is an active manual attempt to gain access to a system through an already known vulnerability or misconfiguration. Vulnerability scanning focuses on prevention, not penetration. A vulnerability scan is typically administered more frequently than a penetration test, but they work together and are requirements for a comprehensive cybersecurity plan.


Why is vulnerability scanning so important?

There are many reasons vulnerability scanning should be part of your cybersecurity plan.

  • Mitigate risk. By detecting unpatched software, broken authentication, security misconfigurations, and other security risks, you may be saving your organization from a costly data breach or malware attack.
  • Industry compliance. Many industries have regulatory requirements to have internal and external vulnerability assessments done on a regular basis. Industries with HIPAA and SOX compliance, along with banks and credit unions require vulnerability assessments. Your business’s cybersecurity insurance, regardless of industry, may also require it.
  • One step ahead. Cyber criminals also have access to vulnerability scanning tools, so it is vital to carry out scans and act before the hackers do.

Incorporate an ongoing vulnerability scanning procedure into your cybersecurity plan

An ongoing vulnerability scanning procedure is an essential component of your commitment to proactively identify security risks for your business. Maintaining a regular regimen of vulnerability scanning through a credentialed managed IT provider, you can continually identify, organize, and address vulnerabilities that could otherwise put your network security at risk. By mitigating those risks systematically, your organization has the insight it needs to remediate, maintain regulatory compliance, and have a strong cybersecurity posture.

Our credentialed IT security experts can perform an exhaustive security assessment and come up with an action plan to proactively address potential vulnerabilities within your systems.


Subscribe by Email