Every time a computer connects to the Internet, there is a risk of a hacker taking advantage of some new vulnerability. This needle in the cyber-haystack can wreak havoc on networks and computers. Most disconcerting, these vulnerabilities can cause more than annoying pop-ups. They can worm their way into a network and steal proprietary information and other data critical to the profitability of a business. Even the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Computer Security Division keeps a National Vulnerability Database (NVD) in an effort to help companies prepare against potential attacks. The NVD is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division. As of April 2014, there were more than 50,000 vulnerabilities scored in the NVD.
That’s why vulnerability scans can be such an important form of network protection.
Vulnerability scanning is an organized approach to the testing, identification, analysis and reporting of potential security issues on a network. An external scan will mimic how hackers on the Internet can attempt to gain access to a network. An internal scan is run from inside the network. The results can show the path a hacker can take once they have gained access to the network and exactly how much data they could collect.
Vulnerability scanning is a non-destructive form of testing that provides immediate feedback on the health and security of a network. Based on the information provided, the IT team can take direct action to better protect a network and the information housed within it. Scanning should take place on a regular basis- but especially if in the middle of an upgrade. For example, if your organization is upgrading due to the Windows Server 2008 End Of Life, then you may want to increase the frequency of the vulnerability scanning until your systems are upgraded to a supported operating system.
All Covered’s Managed Vulnerability Scan will automatically scan your external or internal network on a monthly basis for new vulnerabilities and provides access to detailed reports and remediation recommendations. You also gain access to periodic reviews with All Covered’s highly-skilled solutions architects to discuss your security posture.
What is most important to remember, however, is that vulnerability scanning should be just one part of a larger vulnerability management plan. Scenarios that are presented during the testing phase need to be reviewed regularly so new issues are quickly identified and patched. Of course the test process, its corresponding results, and the implemented fixes need to be well documented as part of a larger protection plan.
If a company does not have an internal IT department, this could prove daunting. Even with an internal IT department, the bandwidth may not be there to conduct comprehensive testing. It is then worth considering hiring an outside managed IT service organization. They can handle vulnerability testing, review the results, and most importantly, develop a comprehensive protection plan to keep a network protected from outsiders looking to score proprietary data.