Friday, December 9, 2022

External vs. Internal Vulnerability Scans: What’s the Difference?

An internal scan is conducted within a company’s network, while an external scan is completed outside of the company’s network.

See below to learn all about how internal vulnerability scanning and external vulnerability scanning are different as well as both vital parts of a company’s network security: 

External vs. Internal Vulnerability Scans

What Is An External Vulnerability Scan?

An external vulnerability scan takes place outside of the company’s network. External vulnerability scans take place inside a network’s external IP addresses and detect ports to identify security gaps.

An external vulnerability scan helps a company make sure that vulnerabilities outside of their network are laid out and identified

With external vulnerability scans, it is possible to ensure that high-traffic sites can be scanned without affecting their performance. Businesses can also schedule external vulnerability scans to run as often as they’re needed, based on a company’s schedule.

Benefits Of External Vulnerability Scanning

  • Assist in verifying the security state of a company’s external services
  • Scan weaknesses in external networks that could lead to a cybercrime
  • Shows the most important external threats and vulnerabilities related to a company’s network
  • Identifies software or data that may show new vulnerabilities or weaknesses in a company

What Is An Internal Vulnerability Scan?

An internal vulnerability scan has full access to the company’s network to show the vulnerabilities in the network.

Internal vulnerability scans look at the enterprise’s IT infrastructure and security tactics, including employees and third-party vendors that can access the company’s data. 

There might be a risk of a “rogue employee” or cybercriminal accessing the network from the inside, said Ryan Cloutier, CISSP, SecurityStudio, a cybersecurity company based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. If this happens, it is best to do an internal vulnerability scan.

Internal scans are helpful when a company needs to have a detailed report of vulnerabilities in their network or to verify patching has happened.

Benefits Of Internal Vulnerability Scanning

  • Looks into the actions of employees to identify vulnerabilities that could affect critical systems, functions, and operations
  • Helps improve access permissions and privileges for the company
  • Identifies vulnerabilities in systems and prioritizes vulnerability patching
  • Gives insights to improve patch and security management processes
  • Fixes vulnerabilities to support needed requirements or security standards

See more: Simple Guide to Vulnerability Scanning Best Practices

Differences Between External And Internal Vulnerability Scans

External Vulnerability Scans Internal Vulnerability Scans
Outside of company’s network Inside of company’s network
Looks for ways hackers might enter such as IT assets, applications, and ports Looks for security holes that hackers might take advantage of in systems and servers
More proactive than reactive Options of credential and non-credentialed scans

How Often Should You Conduct External And Internal Vulnerability Scan?

Experts say a company should conduct both internal scanning and external vulnerability scanning as often as possible for a business. 

For instance, a company that performs internal and external vulnerability scans quarterly or annually may only find  “a cybercriminal who only attacks on a quarterly or annual basis,” said Cloutier with SecurityStudio.

“Think about how much can change in your company, and your IT infrastructure, in three months,” says West County Computers in a post. “If you do not run periodic network vulnerability scans, you could have serious security flaws in your systems for weeks — or months.”

Should You Do An External Or Internal Vulnerability Scan?

Cybersecurity experts recommend doing both internal and external scans to help protect a company’s infrastructure as part of their network security strategy.

See more: What is Vulnerability Scanning & Why Should You Do It?

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