Vulnerability scanning is important because of the many cybersecurity risks within a company. Vulnerabilities within a company’s IT infrastructure can be breached by cybercriminals if those weaknesses go unnoticed.
Despite the protective measures they have in place, enterprises experience data breaches. By doing regular vulnerability scans and applying patches, a company can prevent cyberattacks and hacks.
See below to learn all about why vulnerability scanning is an important part of a company’s network security posture:
Importance of vulnerability scanning
There are several key benefits to vulnerability scanning:
When a company catches vulnerabilities in advance, they can patch them before the hackers can see those vulnerabilities.
“An attacker only needs one vulnerability to gain access,” said Russell Miller, CTO, OPSWAT.
“Attackers automatically scan many organizations in parallel trying to exploit vulnerabilities at a high frequency — if an organization is not automatically defending itself, the organization will become a victim.”.
Data breaches have increased by 56% within the last year, according to Statista. For a company to avoid being a victim, vulnerability scanning sees the cyberattack vulnerabilities before any issues occur.
Prioritize and visualize infrastructure vulnerabilities
Vulnerability scanning software can show a company where their vulnerabilities are and offer support in fixing them. A company can decide where the software should be focused based on importance.
“Scanning for vulnerabilities and ranking by the severity of identified vulnerabilities must now take into account the context of the asset and the type of information handled by that asset at each organization,” said Victor Gamra, founder and CEO, FortifyData,
“Identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities based on the risk to the company’s priority systems is a trend we are witnessing now.”
See more: Nmap Vulnerability Scanning Made Easy: Tutorial
Save time and money by avoiding hacks
Data breaches can cost a company up to $4.35 million on average, according to IBM. The cost of security system issues, compliance failures, and third-party involvement can add up for a company. With a working vulnerability scanner, a company can catch potential breaches before they happen or save the data by patching vulnerabilities.
On average, vulnerability scans could save a company around $3.05 million in costs and contain the breach 28 days faster, according to IBM.
Vulnerability scanners will, on average, leave a company with 240 needed manual checks, taking 240 hours annually rather than a possible 10,000 hours, according to Invicti.
Ability to automate scans
Security experts recommend as much scanning as possible. Auto-scanning constantly can catch errors and problems faster and easier than IT teams can manually.
For instance, there were over 8,000 vulnerabilities published in Q1 of 2022, according to Market Research Future, leaving in-house teams with too many vulnerabilities to identify themselves.
Ron Gula, president of Gula Tech Adventures, said it’s important for companies using vulnerability scanning to ensure the “auto-remediation of vulnerabilities where possible as soon as the new vulnerability is reported —or as soon as the device becomes at risk.
“For example, endpoint security tools can automatically upgrade the endpoint to a newer version of an app if a user installs a version of an app with critical vulnerabilities,” Gula said.
To avoid security risks created by the sheer volume of vulnerabilities, updating and automating scans can help companies keep their information secure.
See more: 13 Best Vulnerability Scanner Tools
Network vulnerabilities that scans address
Network vulnerabilities can be caused by issues with hardware, software, and human mistakes.
There are several common network vulnerabilities, including those tied to operating systems (OSs), processes, and passwords, as well as:
- Outdated or bugged software: Systems running an application without the ability to patch can infect an entire company network if a hacker can find and manipulate the flaw.
- Misconfigured systems: With firewalls and operating systems, default settings can be well-known by hackers and cybercriminals, allowing for easy access to a company’s data.
- Human vulnerabilities: A data breach can occur from an employee error.
“We have had technology solutions to scan software and systems for vulnerabilities for years, but what we should have been doing is scanning the users. … Hackers have increasingly been turning their focus to employees,” said Ragnar Sigurdsson, CISSP, head of research and development and co-founder, AwareGo.
“I have yet to see a workplace where there isn’t at least one employee who is unaware or doesn’t care about cyber risk, correct password handling and safety protocols or policies.”
Sigurdsson said vulnerability scans finding employee errors can help a company “give security admins the information they need” to spend their training efforts on keeping employees from making further mistakes.
- Hidden backdoor programs: A hidden backdoor program is a targeted attack on vulnerable software code. Some cybersecurity systems will not see the vulnerability. For instance, code in a content management system (CMS) can be a gateway to introduce cyberthreats to corporate-wide content and multiple companies using the platform.
- Automated software updates without malware checks: Updates and upgrades to software are a way to keep systems moving. However, hackers see potential in a company that does not have a vulnerability scan solution in place. Software updates can bring in malware just as clicking on a scam link can.
Companies will benefit from vulnerability scanning constantly, so if an update has bugs or malware, the solution can identify it before it’s too late.
“As frequent as company IT environments change (deploying cloud, standing up new services), coupled with the continuous tools that threat actors have, we are seeing more organizations move towards continuous scanning to monitor their external and internal environments,” said Victor Gamra, founder and CEO, FortifyData.
See more: What is Vulnerability Scanning? Definition, Types & Guide