Why Vulnerability Scanning is Now a Necessity for Your Business

Identifying security holes with vulnerability scanning is an important measure for any business.

May 31, 2017 by Alex Collins, IT Services Consultant

You can build the strongest firewall money can buy, but aiming for complete invulnerability to outside threats is a fool's game.

Today's IT infrastructure is simply too complex to be completely safe from intrusions: the mind-boggling variety of operating systems, device drivers, applications and other executables on a single system open it to new and often unseen vulnerabilities that may be breached in a moment of weakness.

Complexity – and a number of other factors – make vulnerability scanning a far more urgent matter than ever.

Expanded Attack Surface for Hackers

“The increased complexity of network security is hitting us at a particularly bad period when the velocity and sophistication of attacks are at an all-time high,” explains Yishay Yovel, vice president of marketing for Israeli security startup Cato Networks.

Yovel believes that increased complexity has “expanded the attack surface” for hackers to exploit: simply throwing more resources at the problem has, counter-intuitively, aggravated the problem.

“The more tools we deploy to counter this tidal wave of threats, the bigger the opportunity for hackers to identify weak links and slip through the cracks,” he explains, noting that the problem has begun to outpace the capabilities of the people managing the system.

“These dedicated people are simply asked to do too much with too few resources,” says Yovel.

All the Time in the World

And they're up against an enemy with time and resources on their side. Cybersecurity personnel need to keep multiple points of entry airtight; hackers only need to find a way in through one.

In the first quarter of 2017 alone, a total of 4,837 new vulnerabilities were reported, some 29.2 percent higher than the number of discovered vulnerabilities in the same time period in the previous year. “The numbers are sobering and suggest that 2017 is well on its way to becoming the worst year on record for data breaches and software vulnerabilities,” writes Dark Reading's Jai Vijayan.

To protect against attackers, organizations need to scan and update their protection on a continuing basis: keeping abreast of the new vulnerabilities found every week, identifying trends and working towards regularly patching any vulnerabilities found.

Regular, Automated Protection

In response, vulnerability scanning can simultaneously address the threats and lighten the load of security personnel.

It regularly inspects all potential exploitation points on a computer or network, identifying security holes and suggesting areas of improvement. Beyond simply protecting against outside threats, regular vulnerability scanning can also correct misconfigurations in your system that inadvertently allow greater access to outsiders than intended.

And as vulnerability scans are automated to a certain degree, they leave security staffers with a reduced workload, not a heavier one.

Regular, automated vulnerability scans can do more than any team of staffers can by themselves: go through every system on a regular basis, cross-check against a massive (and growing) list of vulnerabilities and configuration issues, and secure your network to the greatest possible extent.

Getting Started with Vulnerability Scanning

For companies just getting started with the process, they don't need to set it up in-house. Many managed service providers offer vulnerability scanning as part of their standard repertoire. For example, All Covered Care: Secure & Protect includes a Managed Vulnerability Scan in its most basic security setting.

The service automatically scans up to six external IPs for new vulnerabilities, and supplies detailed reports and remediation recommendations to address any issues they find.

It just goes to show you don't have to build the strongest wall against attackers: you just need a few sharp and sleepless eyes watching on your behalf.