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Vulnerability Assessment: A Step-By-Step Guide

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    Vulnerability Assessment

    Businesses today have become entirely dependent on information technologies. The problem is that there are too many cyber threats that are continuously looking for breaches in your network. However, you can apply some effective defensive methods to prevent data loss, unauthorized access, or malicious attacks on your IT ecosystem.

    Vulnerability assessment is one of those crucial tools that uncover your network’s vulnerabilities and significantly decrease possible threats. It became essential for successful organizations that continuously use it due to factors described further in the text. In this article, you will discover how vulnerability assessment scans your system for flaws before they become a real problem and helps you quickly deal with them.

    What Is Vulnerability Assessment?

    The vulnerability assessment process is an automated test procedure that uses various techniques to assess multiple security problems and uncover vulnerabilities as much as possible in a given period.

    This process uses automatic and manual techniques with different degrees of accuracy with the goal of complete coverage. Risk assessment methods are often used in various technologies such as host, system, and application-level analysis.

    Vulnerability assessments are beneficial for any network with a higher risk of cyberattacks, regardless of whether it is a small company, a big business, or even an individual.

    Importance of Vulnerability Assessment

    According to recent research, 95% of all cyber-attacks abuse known vulnerabilities. Thus, you will save your data from 95% of potential cyber-attacks by conducting a vulnerability assessment.

    Vulnerability assessments will reveal the weaknesses and flaws of your IT environment. They will give you a better understanding of how secure your business is and the overall chance of suffering from cybercriminals and data losses. With this info, you will be on an excellent start to remediating those weak spots and eliminating any flaws.

    It would be best to remember that 15,000 new security vulnerabilities are found each year. It happens due to many factors, for example, software/hardware updates. An excellent solution to that will be conducting vulnerability assessments annually or at least once in a few years.

    How Do Vulnerability Assessments relate to IT Risk Management?

    Vulnerability analysis explores possible threats across network, system, and software components in your on-premise and cloud environment. Its report can identify vulnerabilities and detect vulnerable systems that need correction, such as policy violations that can’t be addressed with patches or maintenance alone. The majority of vulnerability assessments assign the threat to one or more risks. These risks may have their urgency or impact, making it easier to concentrate on those areas that may cause more issues for organizations.

    How Does Vulnerability Assessment Work?

    Vulnerability assessment is a comprehensive process that identifies weaknesses, provides vulnerability analysis, and offers ways to fix harmful issues.

    Methodology and planning

    Before starting your vulnerability scanning and management, security teams should follow at least those basic guidelines:

    • Find out where the most crucial data are stored.
    • Create a map of your digital infrastructure (assets, devices, their connections).
    • Identify critical servers of your system and what they run.
    • Expose hidden data.
    • Check your system for any mistakes; make sure that everything works properly.

    This kind of preparation will make the vulnerability testing process smoother and help you avoid possible problems.

    Identify vulnerabilities

    Identifying security weaknesses begins with a deep scan of your system. It covers web applications, software, hardware, and network. This scan is based on databases of common vulnerabilities, so they leave no potential threat unnoticed, highlighting all identified vulnerabilities.


    A program will present you with information about vulnerable systems as soon as the scan is done. In addition, it will report to you about the root causes of vulnerabilities and the systems that are responsible for them.

    Risk assessment

    The analysis will prioritize vulnerabilities and tell you which of them are the biggest potential threats. Each vulnerability will get a specific score, which is a critical component in identifying its essence. Based on those scores, it will be much easier for you to decide which of the vulnerabilities should be treated first.

    How to treat security vulnerabilities

    When you identify all the critical vulnerabilities and analyze them, you may start treating them. A program will give you suggestions on how to remediate or provide appropriate mitigation to threats.

    Remediation of the threat suggests you manipulate exploitable vulnerabilities of your system to eliminate their flaws. You will have to update a product or software or install new software to do that. When the remediation is done, the vulnerability will disappear.

    If it is not possible to remediate the breach at the moment, the program will advise you to perform threat mitigation. This process will set measures to reduce any potential risks. But we recommend you to use remediation as soon as it is available.

    What Are the Types of Vulnerability Scanners?

    Vulnerability assessments use many methods of scanning to identify threats of any kind. The most popular and efficient of them are:

    1. Wireless networks scan. This security testing examines your wireless network infrastructure to prevent unauthorized access to your networks.
    2. Host-based scans. The host-based scan evaluates your network vulnerabilities by deeply analyzing internal and external flaws.
    3. Application scans. Used to identify vulnerabilities in web applications and, possibly, their source codes.
    4. Database scans. This type of scan fully identifies vulnerabilities in a database system such as Microsoft, SQL, and many others.

    Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing

    Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing are tools used to protect your system and reduce the risk of cyberattacks. But you should not interchange those terms as they use different methods for security testing.

    Vulnerability assessment aims to uncover weaknesses of your system by conducting automatic vulnerability testing. A program fully controls this procedure.

    On the other hand, we have penetration testing, which is a complex process. It uses an automatic program and an actual human who will simulate a hacker attack on your system.

    So, both vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are great tools for vulnerability management. But when you combine them, you get a comprehensive vulnerability assessment that will expose even more weak spots.

    Benefits of Vulnerability Assessment

    Vulnerability assessment is a highly convenient process that will save you time and money. The main benefits are:

    • Time efficiency. Launching a vulnerability scanner and getting a final assessment takes very little time.
    • Price. Vulnerability assessment tools are not that pricy; some are even free.
    • Convenience. No need for manual involvement in the process. The procedure is fully automatic.

    To Conclude

    We live in the 21st century, where most organizations work and handle their businesses in the digital environment. A periodic vulnerability assessment is crucial to an effective digital security strategy for them. An organization has nearly every chance of having a single unpatched vulnerability, thereby being exposed to many potential risks based on many exposures. Vulnerability assessment is a comprehensive, valuable tool for any system with a cyberattack risk. It can make a big difference between failed attacks and expensive data breaches or ransomware exploitations. It’s straightforward to automate vulnerability assessment and do it yourself too.

    Frequently asked questions

    1. Which persons should be involved in the threat, risk, and vulnerability assessment?

    Vulnerability assessment is a process, that is fully automated and does not involve additional help from professionals.

    2. At what point in a vulnerability assessment would an attack tree be utilized?

    During a threat evaluation.

    3. What is a pen test?

    A pen test is a complex procedure that uses ethical hacking methods to find flaws in one’s digital space.

    4. How much does a pentest cost?

    Pen test is a pricey service, which cost usually starts from a couple of thousands of dollars.