How to Do a Network Vulnerability Assessment (Step by Step Guide)

Ask yourself, when was the last time your organization carried out its network vulnerability assessment? Three out of four attacks in 2020 used vulnerabilities that were at least two years old. Of that, 18% of attacks took advantage of vulnerabilities disclosed during or prior to 2013

Performing a network vulnerability assessment is key for organizations to safeguard sensitive data and systems against cyber threats. Find out everything you need to know to keep your business safe:

  • What are network vulnerability assessments and why they are important
  • What you need to include in your network vulnerability assessment methodology
  • Need-to-know network assessment factors and pursuing remediation efforts

What is a Network Vulnerability Assessment?

Network vulnerability assessments are processes that aid in the review and analysis of endpoint and device networks for cybersecurity issues. 

The primary objective of a network vulnerability assessment is to detect potential and existing network flaws that jeopardize network security

Some of the different types of network vulnerability assessments are:

  • Host-based scans
    • ex: port scan, laptops, servers, tablets, and drive configurations (like data directories)
  • Wireless-based scans
    • ex: WiFi, VoIP, and employee business phones
  • Application-based scans
    • ex: Identifying outdated software, security, and network features

Why Identify Network Vulnerabilities is More Important Than Ever

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are at greater risk, with an estimated 84% of companies operating in high-risk vulnerability environments since 2020. A big reason for that: remote operations and work from home.

Some common examples of network vulnerabilities include:

  • Default or weak passwords
  • Single-factor authentication (SFA)
  • No disaster recovery or real-time backup
  • Inadequately configured firewalls
  • Susceptibility to phishing emails
  • Obsolete hardware
  • Spoofing IP addresses
  • Mobile device vulnerabilities

With a proper network vulnerability assessment strategy, organizations can detect security issues before they impact critical operating systems

Network Vulnerability Assessment Methodology

As the number of identified vulnerabilities continues to rise, so does the demand for:

  • Robust vulnerability scanning tools
  • Routine network scans
  • Automated, multi-layer penetration test processes 

Couple that with the fact that businesses are adopting cloud services, and it’s not hard to see the seriousness and importance of fortifying network security through periodic vulnerability scans. 

Follow network vulnerability assessment steps to prepare your scans: 

  1. Create a complete list of all network devices (endpoints, firewalls, appliances, etc.).
  2. Follow and implement existing scanning procedures and approve process leaders to manage the assessment process.
  3. Find the best penetration tester and vulnerability scanners that include internal and external network scans for:
    1. Data storage
    2. Real-time backups
    3. Cloud storage access
  4. Carefully weigh factors that can influence vulnerability scans, such as increased traffic volumes which can overload networks.
  5. Optimize vulnerability assessment tools, and conduct assessment scans accounting for security vulnerability aggressiveness, duration, targets, and the time of the scan.
  6. Analyze results and create a remediation plan combatting the vulnerabilities while accounting for the time, resources, and priority of the at-hand tasks.

It’s also vital to be familiar with data privacy and compliance laws when carrying out a risk assessment. Without taking them into account, your business may remain vulnerable to security issues and become liable for exorbitant compliance fines. 

It’s why experienced network administrators and professional IT services providers are best placed to perform in-depth vulnerability tests required to protect your infrastructure.

Benefits of Vulnerability Assessments 

There’s more to security vulnerability assessments than just identifying gaps in your network. Vulnerability assessments provide additional benefits to your organization, such as: 

  • Saving money and resources by eliminating obsolete infrastructure
  • Strengthening cybersecurity and overhauling accessible technology
  • Helping guide organizations to achieve regulatory compliance
  • Keeping employees up-to-date on the latest policies
  • Ensuring the best security procedures are in place
  • Gaining visibility into potential weaknesses and preparing action plans

As data privacy laws continue to change to safeguard consumers and businesses, network vulnerability assessment is a process that will become increasingly more important for organizations looking to avoid hefty compliance fines.

Essential Considerations in a Network Vulnerability Assessment 

It takes more than just performing a network security assessment to ensure your organization is secure and operating in compliance. 

The fact of the matter is that your assessment’s success is linked to the skill and knowledge level of the network administrator performing the task. 

  1. It’s vital to work with a provider with certifications that stays abreast with the latest threats to conduct vulnerability assessments.
  1. Scanning tools make a big difference to outcomes too. For instance, an open-source vulnerability scanner may seem appealing for its lower cost, but beware it is dependent entirely on community support to stay effective. That’s why it’s better to opt for state-of-the-art tools to assess your systems for emerging threats.
  1. Documentation is also important for carrying out vulnerability assessments and should cover criteria like the scans planned, what vulnerabilities were discovered, suggested remediation steps, what tests will be conducted, and why.

Implementing Fixes Following a Network Vulnerability Assessment

You should prepare a detailed remediation strategy for your business following an assessment. 

It’s essential to plan for the impact that implementing fixes may have on your network. To take it one step further, this is also the perfect time to tackle compliance to ensure any changes fall in line with regulatory compliance standards.

Once you’ve performed your remediation, it’s time to test your strengthened security measures. Don’t forget to assess human factors as well. You should verify if your staff is adhering to established security policies whenever they’re accessing the company network.

If your business is due for an online security assessment, your organization shouldn’t wait. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Netsurit Secures, Supports, and Safeguards IT Networks

It’s far cheaper and less time-consuming to manage a security assessment than identifying, addressing, and remediating network complications later on.

With the help of IT experts, you can fortify your network, streamline compliance, and ensure you have the best security practices following a network vulnerability assessment. 
At Netsurit, we help businesses worldwide overcome network vulnerabilities and prepare for the unexpected. Get in touch with us to find out what your network assessment needs to cover.

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