In 2014, hackers acquired root access to JP Morgan Chase’s database and stole important information like name, address and card details. The data breach impacted over 76 Million users and became one of the biggest data breaches in the history of mankind. On further introspection by experts, it was discovered that hackers were inside the system for more than 3 months.
Another data breach that impacted 100 Million users occurred because three former employees had access to the database. The former employees of Capital One successfully accessed and sold social security numbers and bank details of over 100 Million people.
All these businesses got comfortable after acquiring the requisite certification and compliances. It was their lack of attention to growing threat and technological advancements that led to such mammoth breaches. Also, organizations are so busy improving their processes, scaling the businesses that they fail to pay attention to every potential threat. With organizations failing to secure their cyber assets against threats that occur in real-time, services like Vulnerability Assessment are becoming a necessity.
Also Read: The Definitive Guide to PCI DSS Compliance
What is Vulnerability Assessment?
Vulnerability Assessment is a systematic study of vulnerabilities in the computer network, hardware, and the overall IT ecosystem. By traversing each and every network, system, hardware and application, vulnerabilities are discovered and reported to the CTO or CISO.
The scrutiny helps stakeholders and executives take stock of current security measurements. The meticulous process of studying infrastructure reveals multiple opportunities and loopholes.
Technologically advanced tools like vulnerability scanner are used to discover loopholes and flaws in the infrastructure. These vulnerability scanners can be designed or customized as per the industry requirements to ensure complete scrutiny.
Why Vulnerability Assessments are Important?
For many top organizations, a vulnerability assessment is a regular practice, it helps them maintain the sanity of their database. While such assessments are helping businesses move towards a safer tomorrow, some organizations are still bewildered with its adoption. Some of the reasons why vulnerability assessment is important are:
- It assists with the identification of any unwanted breach
- It allows businesses to ensure there’s no unauthorized access
- It helps organizations find and close loopholes in networks and databases
- It ensures compliances like GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA
- It leverages enterprises with the confidence to go ahead with expansion
How does Vulnerability Assessments Work?
Before we get started with the “how”, we must know the “what” of vulnerability assessments. What are the primary objectives of conducting a vulnerability assessment?
- Identify design flaws, misconfigurations that can allow hackers to enter
- Documentation of findings to assist the engineering team in covering the loopholes
- Assist the engineering team to understand the vulnerabilities and build a robust system
What are the Common Methods of Conducting Vulnerability Assessment?
Based on the industry and the systematic requirements of organizations, vulnerability assessment processes can differ. Tailor-made services are the best way of conducting such assessments because it ensures comprehensive scrutiny of the system.
Some of the popular Vulnerability Assessment Methods are?
Dynamic Application Security Testing: Best suited for industries that operate on SaaS tools; this method traverses the network and systems looking for security defects or misconfiguration. The end goal of conducting Dynamic Application Security Testing aka DAST is to sanitize systems against errors that can lead to breaches.
Static Application Survey Testing: This is perhaps the most intricate way of conducting a vulnerability assessment. Through Static Application Survey Testing aka SAST, each and every line of code is analyzed for malware and errors. Any unidentified code is discovered and removed from the system.
Conducting SAST ensures that the system was never compromised or injected with unwanted surveillance or malfunctioning codes.
The prime difference between DAST and SAST is that the former runs the program to look for errors while the latter does not run any programs, just traverses the code for errors.
What all things are scanned during the Vulnerability Assessment?
The success of such assessments depends hugely upon the scanning tools or paradigms used. Scanning tools have pre-installed functions but they can be customized according to industry needs. Some of the top things they do are:
- Credentials and non-credentials scan
- Environmental scans
- Scanning for external threats
- Scanning for internal vulnerabilities
When does an Organization need a Vulnerability Assessment?
Well! The contemporary cyber landscape is full of hackers and thieves, any business that is growing by leaps and bounds and garnering positive reviews should consider conducting such assessments. With hackers going behind Fintech Start-ups, Payment based apps and online merchants the most, it gets necessary for them to invest in vulnerability assessment.
Also, if your organization can identify itself with any of the following clauses, then it should consider conducting vulnerability assessment:
- Raising funds from venture capitalist or crowdsourcing
- Getting into controversy, which led to mass firing
- Any suspicious activity that led to a loss in customer base or funds
- If any process has started to malfunction and affect multiple users
- If you have recently collaborated with external developers
- If you have shared API key with external stakeholders
Vulnerability Assessment Vs Penetration Testing
While vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are complementary methods but not all organizations need them. Cyber security experts recommend vulnerability assessment and penetration testing to different organizations based on their cyber security risk and needs.
The differences between the two methods can be described eloquently but it is necessary to understand that, a vulnerability assessment is conducted through penetration testing, which makes the former a detailed introspection whereas the latter is just a single step.
Features of Vulnerability Assessment
- Has two different ways of conducting it
- Uses automated tools like vulnerability scanners
- Just a way of discovery errors or attacks that might have occurred
- More or less a study that provides organizations with documentation of errors
Features of Penetration Testing
- Is conducted on a regular basis
- Identifies vulnerabilities and exploits it to measure the robustness of cyber security
- The primary goal is here to identify vulnerabilities and then test the system against those vulnerabilities
Conducting vulnerability assessment helps organizations scale their businesses without putting their existing system at risk. Even when APIs are shared with multiple stakeholders, systems are going to function efficiently, if all findings and suggestions of vulnerability assessment were implemented correctly.
With MK Cyber Services, organizations can avoid expensive downtime and meet compliance requirements. Vulnerability Assessment of your cyber assets by our expert team will prepare your organization to prevent attacks in the future. The documented report allows enterprises to take both strategic and defensive actions and move assets towards comprehensive security.