Vulnerability scanning is software that finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a company’s infrastructure, network, and software.
Vulnerability scanning can also detect and patch these vulnerabilities, so cybercriminals cannot access a company’s network.
See below to learn all about what vulnerability scanning is in the market:
See more: Why Vulnerability Scanning is Important?
How do vulnerability scanners work?
A vulnerability scanner is a vulnerability or risk testing tool that monitors for problems or coding flaws that seem to be cybersecurity problems.
If a vulnerability scanner tends to find more problems in one area, it will heavily focus on future and past vulnerabilities in the area. A user can choose which areas are most important to the company.
Vulnerability scanners follow multiple steps in their execution process:
1. Conduct and analyze risk classification
When a company looks into vulnerability scans, it is vital to determine what part of the infrastructure needs to be scanned. One way to determine risk classification is using low, medium, and high sensitivity. They are defined as:
- Low sensitivity:
- Data and assets that are accessible to the public, such as a company’s website, job listings, and product announcements.
- Medium sensitivity:
- Data and access that are meant to be internal, but if it is accessed by the public, it will not be catastrophic. Some examples are business plans, emails, and signed contracts.
- High sensitivity:
- Data and assets must be protected, if accessed by the public, it can be catastrophic for a business. Examples are customer information, financial records, and internal operation documents.
Once this information has been labeled, it is important to map out the areas of the network they are in, and how they can be accessed by IT teams.
2. Set up vulnerability scanning policies and procedures
To keep networks and infrastructure secure, it is vital to set up policies and how the company plans to keep the information safe and protected from any cybersecurity threats.
To create a vulnerability scan policy:
- Make sure all employees are able to cooperate with the risk assessment.
- All vulnerabilities must be identified and fixed to limit the risks.
- Possibly complete an audit to:
- Ensure availability and safety of information and resources.
- Analyze possible security incidents and to help create a security policy.
- Monitor network and users to ensure safety of difficult areas.
- Be sure the vulnerabilities are addressed appropriately, if not, the infrastructure must complete an authenticated vulnerability assessment.
- Decide how often the system should be scanned.
- Map out what is sound and decide what systems should be scanned most often
Once the policy is set up, employees and technology experts should be given the procedures that they should complete in the case of an attack. This can include patching, another scan, or even what they are responsible for.
3. Identify what type(s) of vulnerability scans a company wants to use
There are several types of vulnerability scanning solutions available in the market:
|Types of Vulnerability Scanning||Definition|
|API vulnerability scanning||Tests websites and applications for any vulnerabilities|
|Network vulnerability scanning||Find weaknesses on a network or infrastructure|
|Internal network vulnerability scan||Searches for vulnerabilities within a business network|
|External network vulnerability scan||Searches for vulnerabilities outside of a business network|
|Cloud vulnerability scanning||Tests for vulnerabilities within a cloud deployment|
|Database vulnerability scanning||Tests websites to identify weak points in a database|
Companies can pick which type is necessary for their business or use multiple types to get the best result.
4. Perform the vulnerability scan
Vulnerability scanners follow multiple steps in their execution process:
- Create security policies and controls and track data and other protected assets
- Scan systems for any vulnerabilities and classify their importance
- Pre-test vulnerability patches and apply to risk
- Patching for vulnerabilities has these steps:
- Test the infrastructure for any patches
- Have a security professional analyze patch stability
- Monitor patch updates
- Lay out a configuration management plan
- Patch any critical vulnerabilities
4. Scan again to confirm the risk has been solved
Through these steps, a company is trusting the vulnerability scanner to keep their information and assets safe, both in the present and future.
5. Interpret and map out the vulnerability scan results
There are multiple ways to interpret vulnerability scan results, based on the software a company chooses to use. The most common steps to follow:
- Removing any duplicates and false positives
- Remediate any needed areas
- Prioritize unresolved vulnerability issues
As vulnerability scan software grows, the results may look similar to this:
The results will be extremely valuable to the company as they map out what needs to be done to fix the vulnerabilities and data.
Why perform vulnerability scans
Implementing vulnerability scanning as part of a cybersecurity strategy can save a company time, money, and crucial data.
“Vulnerability scanning is critical for a number of reasons,” said Russell Miller, CTO of Secure Access, OPSWAT, a cybersecurity company focused on critical infrastructure.
“Scanning for vulnerabilities and ensuring they are promptly remediated reduces the organization’s overall risk exposure to attacks, by exposing weaknesses in an organization’s endpoints or workloads.”
What are vulnerability scanning best practices?
The recommendations from experts are extensive, but here are some examples of the best practices for companies interested in vulnerability scanning:
- Scanning priorities: A business can identify the most vital data they want to protect through scanning.
- Consistent scanning: Experts recommend conducting vulnerability scanning every day, but companies can run their scans at different intervals, based on their configurations.
- Scanning everything: While a company can pick their priority data for scanning, experts recommend scanning all across software, hardware, cloud, and network systems to ensure their information is secure from any vulnerabilities.
- External tools: Vulnerability scanning is a large part of a company’s security, but experts recommend also pairing it with other tools for better and broader protection.
Should you do vulnerability scanning regularly?
Experts recommend scanning for vulnerability every day or at least once a week. The more a network is tested, the more vulnerabilities can be detected before a cyberattack.
Joel Burleson-Davis, CTO at SecureLink, said companies should “scan everything, always.”
“We need to embrace continuous scanning or at least scanning with a periodicity that means there will be a short feedback loop from incident, to finding, to response,” Burleson-Davis said.
Vulnerability scanning software
Many technology companies have created their types of vulnerability scanning. These are some of the top vulnerability scanning software in the market:
- Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management
- SolarWinds Network Vulnerability Detection
- ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus
- Rapid7 Nexpose
- IBM X-Force Red Vulnerability Management Services
- AWS Amazon Inspector
- Digital Defense Frontline VM
- Beyond Security beSECURE
- Tripwire IP360
- Acunetix by Invicti
See more: Best Vulnerability Scanning Tools