More than 1 million cyber threats are released each year. Hacking is no longer just a sport for bored teenagers on the Internet. It’s now a business that brings in high revenue for a good attacker. The hacker just needs a place to sell products, the right ways to cover his tracks, and your data. Your data is worth thousands of dollars to a hacker, so you need the right security defenses to protect it. The first step any business should take is to have a vulnerability assessment on the network.
What is a Vulnerability Assessment?
Vulnerability assessments take weeks to perform, because an entire audit is done on your network. The assessment identifies each vulnerable resource on the system and assigns risk to it. “Risk” is the term given to threats such as malware, social engineering, viruses, SQL injection, or any number of ways the resource can be a vector for the hacker. The hacker could steal data directly from the resource or use it as a way to gain access to more critical systems.
Whether it’s done by you or a professional, the assessment should also cover effective measures to counteract risks. This could be any number of defenses such as the installation of firewalls, intrusion detection systems, updated software, and improved antivirus software. The way a professional deals with risk is determined by the vulnerability of the system and the best methods for defense for a particular resource.
Another part of vulnerability assessment and risk management is the cost of the resource and the associated cost if it’s lost. For instance, suppose you have a resource worth $10. If you lose this resource, it would cost you $20 to replace it. The total loss is $30. A vulnerability and risk assessment report tells you that it would take $50 each year to defend the system. This cost could increase each year. Since the cost to defend the system is more than its worth, you wouldn’t want to even apply any defenses on the system. This can sometimes be counterintuitive to business owners who just want to defend every possible resource regardless of its worth.
Classifying Network Resources
Business growth is painful when the business must rapidly deploy and manage new IT resources without any direction. When a system grows, security often suffers in exchange for convenience. It’s one of the biggest mistakes growing businesses make.
A vulnerability assessment report helps you audit the network for resources and assigns prioritization rules to them. For instance, a personal directory for the CEO would be considered confidential and extremely sensitive. It could contain critical information regarding corporate intellectual property and financial reports.
A database would be considered extremely critical to business operations and performance, so it too would get top priority in an assessment. However, although a printer would still be a resource that could be vulnerable to social engineering attacks, its loss wouldn’t be critical to performance. This is the type of prioritization a vulnerability assessment gives you.
Foresee Possible Threats Before They’re an Issue
A vulnerability assessment professional can’t foresee the future, but he can make educated guesses on the popularity of threats, which ones would be used to attack your site, and the biggest vulnerabilities on your system. This helps determine the best defenses for your particular network. There are some standard security defenses that can be applied to your system, but each one has its own requirements that determine the right security setup.
Security is a fluid, dynamic industry. A good professional keeps up with trends in the industry so he can provide any forecasts to his customers. For instance, social engineering is increasingly popular with hackers. Security awareness for employees is the best way to defend against this type of threat.
Minimize Damage from Successful Attacks
Risk can’t be 100-percent avoided. However, you can minimize damage from these risks by applying the right security standards on the network. A vulnerability assessment report helps you define what resources are the most critical, and ways you can minimize the impact should they get hacked.
A disaster recovery plan is also a part of this system. These plans help determine the best way to deal with an attack, the methods used to mitigate the issue, and the steps needed to restore the system to normal functionality.
If you haven’t had your system audited and vulnerabilities assessed, it’s time to take the necessary precautions to protect it. An assessment is the first step in high-end security against the increasing threats against your corporate network.