How secure can any software be without vulnerability assessment and pen testing? Cybercrime damage is a real threat that any software is vulnerable even before conceptualization, and more so if it is being used regularly by any individual or organization.
Threats to cybersecurity are increasingly sophisticated and organized that it’s not a matter of when but at what point the attack will happen. Cybercriminals need only one vulnerability within the system, and they could invade your network in a matter of seconds.
In fact, threats to cybersecurity are considered by the US government to be serious national security and economic hurdles in recent years. However, an unforeseen threat does not necessarily urge people to take action unless it actively attacks a system. It is why security breaches, phishing, and hacking take place in untested networks.
Securing a software does not necessarily mean guarding it in real-time and responding to an ongoing cyberattack. What it means is to schedule routine tests such as vulnerability assessments and pen testing to boost the protection of the system as a whole.
What is Vulnerability Assessment?
Vulnerability Assessment or Vulnerability Testing is a type of IT systems test that evaluates the existence of known vulnerabilities to reduce the probability of attacks. Analyzing a weakness in terms of its location and magnitude is what vulnerability testing is about.
A vulnerability may result in a breach of security policies within the system. A thorough assessment prevents such violation from happening (i.e., unauthorized access by intruders or hackers). Vulnerability assessment can be done automatically or manually, depending on different factors like system size and compliance.
Performing vulnerability assessments is crucial since it is impossible to monitor entry points within the network regularly. It is better to scan possible weaknesses and modifying the system’s security policy from there.
Assessing for points of probable attack helps your company gather insights on how to enhance cybersecurity and develop a disaster recovery plan that safeguards critical information and data in your software.
When to Perform Vulnerability Assessment
Experts suggest that vulnerability assessment must be presented when making changes or modifications to the network or if loading new equipment. Such tests are done at least quarterly, but it would be better to implement a once-per-month schedule to protect the system.
Vulnerability scans should include all devices connected to a network such as laptops, desktops, switches, routers, printers, servers, hubs, firewalls, and wired/wireless networks.
There are also specific guidelines to follow especially when securing compliance certificates from agencies that audit a company’s cybersecurity risk testing. For instance, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) IT standard requires running an assessment continuously, with reports and actions consistently taken.
What Is a Pen Test?
A penetration test, also known as ethical hacking or pen test, refers to testing a web application, network, or computer system for possible vulnerability points that could be taken advantage of by an attacker.
The process of ethical hacking commences by gathering information before simulating a cyberattack on the target. Potential entry points should be identified, and a break-in attempt, whether in a real or virtual environment, is performed.
After the test, the expert will then file a report regarding the findings of the trial. Pen test, like vulnerability testing, might be automated depending on the needed frequency, or it could be performed manually. It involves application systems such as APIs and backend/frontend servers that are prone to code injection bouts.
The objective of ethical hacking is to determine weaknesses in the security of the system. Insights from the test are used to evaluate the current security policy of an organization and its compliance with industry standards. It also aims to verify an employee’s awareness of the security infrastructure and the company’s capability to respond to immediate threats.
The pen test is often dubbed as a ‘white hat attack’ because the break-in ultimately leads to improving the security of the company’s IT infrastructure.
When to Perform a Pen Test
Most companies don’t consider the pen test as a priority until they experience a security breach. It should be done before deploying a network, application, or system. It should also be a routine test before starting a production process.
Pre-deployment penetration testing is essential to identify any loopholes in security and addressing the issues promptly after that. It is not a one-time activity since vulnerabilities are exposed to threats always.
Experts suggest that ethical hacking should be done at least once or twice in a year, or when a device connected to the Internet undergoes any modification or change.
Benefits of Performing Vulnerability Assessment and Pen Testing
- Identifies security risks and vulnerabilities in applications, network, and the IT infrastructure
- Validates and evaluates the status of security policies of a company
- Measures the threat to critical and confidential data and as well as to internal systems
- Provides insights to remediation and prevention of future attacks
- Preserves assets integrity and identifies the presence of malicious code injected in the order
- Fosters compliance with federal and international regulations
Work with the Experts
Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are both essential in enhancing the security strategies of an organization. Each one differs in tasks and strength, but a combination of both processes is highly recommended and even necessary.