Vulnerability assessment provides an objective overview of how susceptible your systems are to any known vulnerabilities by assigning severity levels to the vulnerabilities and recommending remediation or mitigation steps if needed. Some methods of testing a network or system for vulnerabilities include pentesting and intrusion testing, file system scans, server scans, compatibility checks for software running on the system and the latest security services, and much more.
Pentesting and intrusion testing utilize software platforms built to scan and identify network issues. These issues could be anything from open ports which would allow a hacker access to the system, back doors that have been left behind by previous visits from a hacker or a piece of malware, weak passwords that can be easily hacked via brute force, and errors that could potentially leave a system at risk.
Another aspect of vulnerability assessment is checking the file systems on a network. There are file systems on the local hard drives of the machines and the servers themselves. Suppose the file system is disorganized and has many errors within it. In that case, there is a very good chance that if the system became compromised, the administrator of that system would not be able to catch the problem before real damage or theft occurs.
The apps on the server, on the machines connected to the network, and the web applications accessed by those machines also need to be checked by the person or company carrying out the vulnerability assessment. Like the file system, if apps become too old, they lose their compatibility with security tools and can become infected by all kinds of threats. The vulnerability test should indicate which programs need to be updated to include the latest virus and malicious software definitions. This step may seem like common sense, but one aspect of the app world that many people do not consider is that for each app, an entirely new set of rules and permissions are granted to the creators of those programs. It is essential to keep a close eye on what is going on with every tool used on the system.
Vulnerability tests usually work by running IP addresses or website addresses through a database, and the testing software will cross-reference that information with databases of known threats. While there are free and open-source solutions for vulnerability testing, such as Subgraph Vega, we find that experts in the field do a better job with the actual assessment. Here at Holm Security, we take care of all the tedious and time-consuming work involved.
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The most effective method of keeping your system safe is to run a vulnerability test regularly and closely watch any irregularities that come up. By doing this simple step, it is relatively simple to keep your system safe and secure.
Originally published January 31, 2021, updated May 7 2021.