Vulnerability scanners perform an automated scan for exploitable weaknesses within an organization’s application, endpoints, and IT infrastructure. Performing these vulnerability scans is a common requirement for regulatory compliance and can help to minimize an organization’s cybersecurity risk. As a result, it should be a core component of an organization’s threat management program.
Vulnerability scanning is an automated process designed to help identify potentially exploitable vulnerabilities within an application. When new vulnerabilities are discovered and publicly disclosed, new signatures are created for these vulnerabilities. A vulnerability scanner tests an application using its list of signatures and identifies any vulnerabilities that an application may contain.
Vulnerabilities are commonly discovered in applications once they have been released to production, and organizations need to manage these vulnerabilities to protect themselves against exploitation.
Doing so effectively requires organizations to take the following steps:
This process should be applied continuously. New vulnerabilities are discovered every day, so it’s a good idea to automate the vulnerability scanning process so that a security team is notified about and can take action to remediate critical vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.
Vulnerability scanning can be performed in a couple of ways that impact its results and effectiveness:
Performing a variety of scans with each of the four possible combinations is a good idea to ensure that all potential vulnerabilities are detected. And by identifying these vulnerabilities via vulnerability scanning, an organization can close these security holes, decreasing its cyber risk.
Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are both methods by which an organization’s security team can find weaknesses in its cybersecurity. However, these two methods are very different.
A vulnerability scan is an automated search for known vulnerabilities. A number of different vulnerability scanners exist, and they operate by searching for signatures of known vulnerabilities or common security errors (such as the use of weak passwords). These scans are typically designed to find high-level weaknesses within an organization’s applications and IT infrastructure.
A penetration test is an assessment of an organization’s cybersecurity by a human operator or team. This provides a more in-depth assessment because the penetration testers will actually exploit identified vulnerabilities, enabling them to gain additional access to the target network and identify internal issues in the network. Additionally, penetration testers can test potential attack vectors outside the scope of a vulnerability assessment, such as social engineering and phishing attacks.
Cybercriminals use botnets to continually scan Internet-facing applications for exploitable vulnerabilities. And if any such vulnerabilities are found, they can be automatically exploited, potentially leaking sensitive data or providing access to the organization’s network.
An essential component of any organization’s threat management program, vulnerability scanning uses many of the same tools as cybercriminals would use in their scans, and enables an organization to identify and remediate these vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by an attacker. To learn more about vulnerability management and how Check Point can support your threat management program, don’t hesitate to request a demonstration.