Let’s face it; cybercriminals are always working round-the-clock to discover loopholes in organizations’ network security systems to launch their attacks. And unless you deploy the necessary resources and expertise to continuously watch out for these loopholes and seal them, your business will always be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
That’s where vulnerability scanning comes in handy. So what is it, how does it work, and why does your business need it? These and more details are available in the section below. So let’s get down to business!
What is Vulnerability Scanning?
Vulnerability scanning is a cybersecurity measure for assessing and identifying potential weaknesses or loopholes in an organization’s security infrastructure that may expose it to cyberattacks. But that’s not all; after unmasking these possible weaknesses, a vulnerability scanner fixes them ahead of time, i.e., before a cyber threat actor can leverage them to exploit a company’s sensitive data.
Your IT and security team identifies the systems on your network (in order of which is the most valuable and critical to company operations). They then look for and score any vulnerabilities available on those systems, prioritizing the remediation process based on the higher risk threats that can affect your operations the most if a cyber incident occurs.
The ultimate goal of vulnerability scanning is to help your organization move from a reactive to a proactive cybersecurity approach. Increasing awareness and identifying your company’s cybersecurity risks helps ensure that you prioritize your flaws and strengthen your cybersecurity posture before an ill-intended cybercriminal can capitalize on your vulnerabilities.
Understanding the Vulnerability Scanning Process: How Does It Work?
For the vulnerability scanning process to be effective and successful, the scanning tool must be able to:
- Discover and identify all workplace assets which may be susceptible to vulnerabilities, i.e., endpoint devices, IT systems, smart devices, etc. An asset can be physical or virtual, e.g., a firewall or router, web application, server, software, cloud-based endpoint, and more. What’s more, the scanner should collect all critical system information from the assets.
- Record the gathered information in an asset register, and match it with known vulnerability trends from various databases.
Here’s a warning, though; vulnerability scanning can be (more or less) a rigorous and intrusive process that may affect the stability or performance of the systems getting scanned. It may also result in bandwidth-related issues on some networks.
Perhaps the best way to get around this hiccup is to schedule the exercise outside business hours. But again, this could mean that employees who connect their work devices to the network (thanks to the BYOD policy) may not have them connected for scanning when the exercise takes place.
Thankfully, there are two solutions for the BYOD issue. The first approach is using a procedure called adaptive vulnerability scanning. The technique points out changes to the network behavior, e.g., when a new laptop or any other endpoint device connects to the network for the first time. This prompts the vulnerability scanner to launch automatically and scan the new device automatically rather than wait for the next scheduled assessment.
The second technique leverages endpoint agents running on work devices to immediately scan these devices as soon as they connect to the network. How so? When a new or existing device connects to the company network, the agent pushes inventory data to a vulnerability management system for immediate scanning instead of waiting until the next scheduled scan.
What’s the Difference Between Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing?
Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are two cybersecurity processes often confused or used interchangeably by most people. But that’s not right, as they’re as dissimilar as they can be. Below is a basic understanding of how the two processes differ.
In essence, a vulnerability scan digs out known weaknesses in your security systems and reports potential risk exposures. On the flip side, penetration testing exploits weaknesses in your IT network’s specific system configurations, endpoints, and processes, determining the extent to which a threat actor can compromise or steal your sensitive data.
The other key difference is that a security expert usually conducts a pen test, whereas a vulnerability scan is largely automated. As a manual process, penetration testing may involve:
- Sending phishing emails to unsuspecting users (employees) so you can access their accounts when they fall for the trick by clicking on the attached links.
- Hijacking and grabbing unencrypted passwords sent over the network to access users’ accounts.
- Leveraging social engineering tricks lie impersonating a respected figure and asking employees to provide their accounts passwords or complete other malicious activities such as transferring funds to an anonymous account.
How can Your Business Benefit From Vulnerability Scanning?
Regular vulnerability scanning ensures you’re always a step ahead of the ill-intended hackers and data thieves. It’s a hassle-free security and privacy solution that guarantees to keep your work assets and services optimally protected, enhancing business continuity in the long run. Below are the top five ways your business can benefit from regular vulnerability scans:
Hassle-Free Regulatory Compliance
Compliance requirements like PCI DSS can be absolute headaches, as they’re time-consuming and require next-level expertise. And yet, they’re 100% necessary for your system security and that of your customers’ sensitive information. You also don’t want to incur thousands of dollars in fines and penalties due to non-compliance, do you? Complying with these standards requires that your organization performs an in-depth vulnerability scan on your network infrastructure and provide a detailed report to the regulatory bodies for certification.
Would you rather wait until a cyber risk occurs (resulting in massive financial losses), or you’d identify and remediate all system vulnerabilities ahead of time? Your guess is as good as ours! The other cost-saving opportunity arises when you partner with a qualified MSSP like MainStreet IT solutions. Our comprehensive services not only go for a fraction of the cost of running an on-prem center, but we also our own vulnerability scanning tools and resources. So there’s no need to purchase expensive hardware, saving on capital expenses.
The vulnerability scanning process occurs at an impressively faster pace than other security techniques like penetration testing or phishing simulation. Hence, it’s a handy solution, especially if you have hundreds of systems and user accounts that require countless scans. Also, the fact that vulnerability assessments should happen regularly makes it even worthier.
Deep-Rooted Detection Capabilities
Worried that a configuration change may have bypassed the elementary security system, exposing your data and services accidentally? Vulnerability scanning is the solution; the process can unmask any unmanaged network systems changes in real-time and ensure that no vulnerability goes unnoticed.
You’ll also love the fact that you can effortlessly increase or decrease your vulnerability scanning needs according to changes in your business circumstances. For instance, if you hire new employees and there’s a need to scan their workplace devices and systems, you can simply inform your cloud-based MSSP provider to include them in the mix. Of course, the reverse is also true!
MainStreet IT Solutions is Your No.1 Vulnerability Scanning Provider
If you’re in the market for the best vulnerability scanning MSSP, MainStreet has got you covered. Our highly experienced cybersecurity experts leverage the latest technologies and tools to help businesses proactively identify loopholes in their security infrastructures and implement a remediation solution. We also offer a wide range of cybersecurity services, including but not limited to 24/7 systems monitoring, help desk support, pen testing, security awareness training, and more.
And did we mention that we also offer a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee if you’re not happy with our services within the first month of the partnership? So don’t get left behind! Contact us now for a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment.