Security is the biggest challenge faced by network administrators while forming an IT infrastructure in an organization. Due to increased cyber-attacks, government and official authorities are putting more emphasis on data security by setting strict compliances. But, with thousands of devices connected in a network, any type of vulnerability can cost a fortune to an enterprise.NIST defines a vulnerability as “a weakness in an information system, system security procedures, internal controls, or implementation that could be exploited by a threat source.” Hence, the need for a full proof system arises to keep a check on security. One technique that many companies overlook when developing their security design is the self-administered vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability assessment methodology helps in analyzing the security holes that can be used to exploit your IT assets. It provides a precise and logical solution for the administration of an IT facility to make any security change.
Why you should breach your own network?
The answer is pretty simple, to find flaws in the security before an attacker does. Often due to poor or insufficient measures, a network is left exposed to security threats. It could be due to outdated antivirus software, a misconfigured server variable or a bug in an application design which has opened the gates for DDoS, cross-site scripting and at worst ransomware attacks. Organizations thus perform penetration tests on their IT infrastructure to simulate real-world attacks. It helps them to identify the flaws so that they can be addressed before any mishap.
Generally, a third party is hired to analyze an IT infrastructure and perform stress tests to identify vulnerabilities and also to provide solutions for maintaining its integrity. The following points highlight the need for regular vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) in your organization:
- Mitigating the risks and cost associated with data recovery, in the case of any security attack.
- Maintaining the integrity of sensitive data present on the server with each update you make.
- Improving the regulatory compliances and utilizing them for business expendability.
- Assessing the performance and reliability of hardware and software assets obtained from new vendors.
- Providing confidence to the users that their personal and banking information is secured.
- Ensuring that you are up to date with the latest tactics used by attackers.
- Identifying unauthorized services running on the system.data
- Establishing a Security Information and Event Management System (SIEM) to recording and analyzing security logs for identifying vulnerabilities.
How to conduct the assessment?
All the assessment tools and the third-party services will likely follow the same procedure as listed below. The entire assessment process can be divided into three sub-processes which are:
- Asset Assessment
- Conducting the tests
- Documenting and addressing the exposers
The following points highlight a detailed step by step process involved in vulnerability assessment checklist:
- Identify your critical business processes: Once you decide to perform a vulnerability assessment test, you should take an active approach to identify the processes that are important to your business. From handling transaction data to product development, grade the processes by visualizing the loss they would cost if they were not performing correctly. In big organizations, this step will require collaboration between multiple departments and it will take a few weeks before the processes are identified.
- Identify your current security infrastructure and practices: The next step is to audit the IT assets of your organization. Identify their usage frequency and accessibility. It is important to know which devices are producing or consuming heavy traffic and who among the staff has access to these devices. This step also involves interviewing network administrators, analyzing relevant policies and procedures relating to the systems being assessed.
- Backup all the critical data: You don’t want to harm any active running service which could halt any critical task. Therefore, it is necessary to take a backup of data and services so that the recovery could be easy if something went wrong.
- Perform the vulnerability assessment: After each service is identified, hardware and software assets are analyzed and a recovery point is created before the system is finally ready for testing. Right tools are used for this purpose. Some of the useful security assessment tools are:
|· OpenVAS||· Whisker|
|· Nmap||· Comodo HackerProof|
|· Tripwire IP360||· Wireshark|
|· Aircrack||· Nessus Professional|
|· Firewalk||· Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA)|
- Document the test results: It is important to document the process so that it can become the base for the next scheduled assessment. Also, it will help you and other teams in creating an effective solution to any vulnerability found.
Security breaches won’t stop. You have to continuously find any vulnerability in your computer security system so that it can be remediated before it becomes an entry point for attackers. Vulnerability assessment facilitates identifying, classifying and characterizing the internet security holes among workstations, network infrastructure, software applications, and hardware systems.