Is your organization doing enough to protect its environment from hackers?
In 2021, U.S. companies lost nearly $7 billion to phishing scams, malware, malvertising, and other cybercrimes. Experts estimate that by 2025, such schemes will cost businesses worldwide more than $10.5 trillion annually. Given those figures, it’s clear that companies can’t afford to ignore the threat hackers pose to their bottom line.
Fortunately, vulnerability scanning has proven to be an extremely effective means of identifying and eliminating endpoint vulnerabilities that could allow a cybercriminal to access your company’s network and data.
What is Vulnerability Scanning?
Every month, hundreds of vulnerabilities are discovered in applications being used by businesses and organizations around the world. That fact alone makes it impossible for an IT or security team to keep track of all exploitable vulnerabilities that could threaten their company’s network at any given time.
That’s why vulnerability scanning exists.
A vulnerability scan is a high-level automated test that searches for known security weaknesses within a system and reports them so they can be eliminated. In addition to software vulnerabilities, a comprehensive vulnerability scanner can also detect risks such as configuration errors or authorization issues. When used with other cybersecurity measures, these scans can go a long way toward securing your company’s systems and data from hackers waiting to exploit an opening in your attack surface.
Types of Vulnerability Scanning
There are specific types of scans available for different areas of network infrastructure, and your organization’s specific needs will determine which are most appropriate. To gain a comprehensive understanding of your environment’s risk, it’s important to use a tool that is able to detect all types of vulnerabilities.
Authenticated vs. Unauthenticated
An unauthenticated scan can identify vulnerabilities a hacker could exploit without supplying system login credentials. On the other hand, an authenticated scan looks for weaknesses that could only be exploited by someone who does have access to those credentials.
External Vulnerability Scan
An external vulnerability scan tests assets outside your network and targets IT infrastructure, such as websites, ports, services, networks, systems, and applications exposed to the internet. These scans seek to expose threats along your network’s perimeter as well as any lurking within security firewalls and other defensive applications.
Endpoint Vulnerability Scan
An endpoint, or internal, vulnerability scan identifies vulnerabilities exploitable by insider threats, hackers, or malware that have already made it into your system via any remote computing device connected to your network, such as a mobile phone, tablet, desktop, or workstation.
Unfortunately, endpoint security doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves, even though the rise in remote work triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the potential for external hacks at many companies and organizations.
Environmental Vulnerability Scan
An environmental vulnerability scan is designed for the specific environment in which your company’s technology operates. These specialized scans are available for various technologies, including websites, cloud-based services, mobile devices, and more.
Vulnerability Scanning Best Practices
Every company and organization should incorporate vulnerability scanning into its threat mitigation strategy. Adhering to the following best practices will help ensure your business is well-positioned to fend off hackers looking to exploit any weaknesses within your environment:
- Scan Often: Long gaps between scans leave your system open to new vulnerabilities, and some assets may need more frequent scans than others. Establish a vulnerability scan schedule for each device.
- Scan All Devices That Touch Your Network: Every device connected to your network represents a potential vulnerability, so ensure that each is scanned periodically in accordance with potential risk and impact.
- Ensure Accountability for Critical Assets: Decide who will be responsible for patching a particular asset when vulnerabilities are identified.
- Establish Patching Priorities: Vulnerabilities discovered on internet-facing devices should have priority over devices already protected by settings or firewalls.
- Document Scans and Their Results: Documenting that scans per the established timetable will allow you to track vulnerability trends and issue recurrence to uncover susceptible systems.
- Establish a Remediation Process: Lay out specific time frames for addressing discovered vulnerabilities based on the severity of the threat and the urgency to remediate.
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