Do You Need a Network Vulnerability Assessment?

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Do You Need a Network Vulnerability Assessment?

network-vulnerabilityHow secure is your organization’s network? Maybe you’ve set up some security measures in the past and developed a solid set of policies for your employees. But do you perform network vulnerability assessments on a regular basis?

If it’s been awhile (or never) since you’ve implemented an assessment, don’t worry. We’re here to walk you through their purpose, benefits and function.

The Purpose of Network Vulnerability Assessments

First, it’s useful to describe what constitutes a network vulnerability assessment. The core purpose of these assessments is two-fold. The report identifies and details any risks that pertain to network vulnerabilities. Next, it describes the appropriate strategies to reduce and resolve the problems causing these vulnerabilities. Within this report, you’ll find analysis and classification of the identified vulnerabilities. You’ll also see information about any devices connected to your network that might be at risk.

Possible vulnerabilities include:

  • Usage of default or weak passwords
  • Unencrypted cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices
  • USB flash drives
  • Missing patches on servers

Organizations make use of these assessments to prevent damage to their networks. Performing and studying these reports on a regular basis helps to ward off major attacks, breaches and downtime. The fact of the matter remains that risks are always present; identifying them is the first step to mitigating their impact.

As cybercrime continues to rise, high-level means of protection like network vulnerability assessments just make sense. Keep in mind that security threats go beyond hackers and attackers. They also include natural disasters, equipment failures, terrorism and even crimes against your organization’s property.

How Network Vulnerability Assessments Work

Vulnerability assessments work with your enterprise to find weak spots and potential points of exposure. For these assessments to be effective, proper rules and detailed plans must be put into place. A consistent process is the key to rooting out risks before attackers find them for themselves.

A good vulnerability assessment also considers the practices and thoughts of potential attackers. What are their patterns of attack? Do they have particular tools they use to perform these attacks? Setting up your assessment in this manner puts you miles ahead of potential invaders. It’s a form of backwards planning that works to your advantage.

Network Vulnerability Process Cycle

The setup should include a cyclical process where the assessment is carried out, risks are identified, and problems are resolved. Keep in mind this process should be an ongoing part of your organization, not a one-time deal.

Assessment Procedure

This is where the planning and execution of the assessment take place. During this time, it is critical to pinpoint the actual activities, who is responsible for them and the goals of the procedure. You’ll also want to review internal policies and regulations while informing the relevant parties.

Identification of Risks

Now it’s time to analyze the data collected and highlight exposures. This data should be kept in a safe place for further analysis. Be sure to determine who responsible for mitigating each risk.

Resolving Exposures

A few different occurrences take place during this stage. You may find that some of the services responsible for exposures can be removed. Others may require updating or upgrading. For those that remain, a plan of action must be created. This is also an appropriate time to revise the policies of your organization to reflect the changes.

Other Important Steps

To properly assess the potential vulnerabilities, you’ll need to carefully consider:

  • The organization’s structure, purpose and key players
  • The possibility and probability of the risk
  • Potential impact on the organization from each risk
  • Implementation options to mitigate the risk
  • Current threat levels
  • Existing security controls and their effectiveness
  • Compliance
  • Cost/benefit analysis

A solid network vulnerability assessment will give you insight into the weak points of security in your organization. For these assessments to be worthwhile, you’ll need to take the data collected and develop the appropriate responses.

Consistency is also key. Make them a part of your quarterly activities to resolve potential exposures before they’re discovered by attackers. This is one area where being proactive truly pays off.

You have plenty of goals to accomplish in your organization. Don’t get sidetracked by an attack on your network’s security. Work with professionals to safeguard your organization’s data and future.

At Prudential Associates, we have over 40 years of experience in risk management and network security. We work hard to serve the needs of our clients, making their security our number one priority. To learn how we can develop a network vulnerability assessment designed for your organization, contact us today by calling 301.279.6700.