Vulnerability Assessment is the process of identifying the vulnerabilities in your network, systems and hardware, and taking active steps toward remediation. The information gathered via vulnerability testing can be leveraged by IT and security teams to assess and improve your threat mitigation and prevention processes.
There are four steps to a good vulnerability assessment that will help you allocate your security resources as efficiently as possible.
You need to start by determining which systems and networks will be assessed (including mobile and cloud), identifying where any sensitive data resides, and which data and systems are most critical. Ensure that everyone involved has the same expectations for what the assessment will provide, and make sure that lines of communication will remain open throughout the process.
Next, actively scan the system or network, either manually or via automated tools, and use threat intelligence and vulnerability databases to identify security flaws and weaknesses and filter out false positives. Particularly with a first assessment, the number of vulnerabilities found can be overwhelming – which is where step three comes in.
A more detailed analysis then follows, providing a clear sense of the causes of the vulnerabilities, their potential impact, and the suggested methods of remediation. Each vulnerability is then ranked or rated based on the data at risk, the severity of the flaw, and the damage that could be caused by a breach of the affected system. The idea is to quantify the threat, giving a clear sense of the level of urgency or risk behind each flaw and its potential impact.
Finally, the vulnerability assessment results in an effort to patch key flaws, whether simply via a product update or through something more involved, from the installation of new security tools to an enhancement of security procedures. The ranking in step three will help prioritize this process, ensuring that the most urgent flaws are handled first. It’s also worth noting that some flaws may have so little impact that they may not be worth the cost and downtime required for remediation.