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Even if your company has a robust firewall, an intrusion detection system (IDS) and antivirus/anti-malware, hackers can still gain access to your systems and data by exploiting vulnerabilities in your networks. Finding those vulnerabilities before the attackers do is the purpose of a network vulnerability assessment.
A network vulnerability assessment pinpoints and prioritizes security defects in your computer and device networks, such as unpatched or misconfigured systems, weak device passwords or a vulnerable web server.
Does your business need to periodically assess network vulnerabilities?
If you have a computer network connected to the Internet… the answer is yes.
Network vulnerability assessments aren’t just “nice to have”—they’re a fundamental and critical part of keeping your sensitive data secure. Regular, comprehensive vulnerability assessments help keep you one step ahead of attackers. If you know where the holes are, all you have to do is patch them. If you don’t know where the holes are, all you have to do is wait for a data breach.
But the value of network vulnerability assessment goes beyond identifying security issues. Consider the following five “bonus benefits” for your IT operations.
The Hidden Benefits of a Network Vulnerability Assessment
- You can prove to prospects, customers, partners and other stakeholders that you’re secure.
The people trusting you with their data want to know you’re able to protect it. In more and more industries, providing security assurance is a prerequisite for winning or retaining business. Failure to conduct network vulnerability assessments is becoming a major red flag. Whereas attestation of robust network security is a growing competitive advantage.
- You get added support for regulatory compliance.
If you operate in a regulated industry and need to comply with PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or HIPAA regulations among others, “rigorous vulnerability management practices” are basically mandated to maintain compliance. Network vulnerability assessment is also key to achieving and retaining cybersecurity certifications like ISO 27001.
- You get feedback on your patch management and change management programs.
Have you missed any critical patches or firmware updates? Are there any systems on your network that aren’t documented? The more you streamline your network to boost efficiency, the harder it can be to stay current on changes. Why not take advantage of some help?
- You can better evaluate the performance of third-party IT service providers.
Are the vendors you rely on for IT services like VoIP, backup, email, system administration, etc. helping or hurting your security posture? An independent network vulnerability assessment can be an excellent “cross-check” on third-party performance. It’s amazing how often we find network issues that directly relate to service providers failing to account for security; e.g., retaining default device passwords so the tech “always knows the password.”
- It helps guide remediation efforts and test their effectiveness.
Are you thinking of purchasing a new security service or tool? Have you recently done so and would love to know more about its “real-world” performance? Most network vulnerability assessments not only identify specific issues, but also help you prioritize them and develop a strategy for dealing with the most serious gaps. Short of a network penetration test (or as a prerequisite prior to conducting one), a network vulnerability assessment is one of the best ways to validate current or proposed security countermeasures.
As these bonus benefits illustrate, assessing your network security can help you develop a deeper understanding of your overall InfoSec risk and a comprehensive strategy for dealing with it, while appropriately prioritizing valuable resources.
But before you can assess vulnerabilities, you must first find the time and resources to look for them. This can be a major challenge. Where do you begin and how do you prioritize your efforts?
Contact Pivot Point Security to talk about network vulnerability assessments and how they can help your company achieve its security and compliance goals.
For more information on Vulnerability Assessments and Network Pen Tests:
- 3 Levels of Network Penetration Testing: Which Scope is Right for Your Business?
- Network Security Management vs. Network Penetration Testing
- Best practices PDF (free download): Am I Ready for a Network Penetration Test?