A vulnerability assessment is a process of auditing and reviewing a network or information systems, in search for security weaknesses. It determines if the network is vulnerable to any known exploits, assigns severity levels to those vulnerabilities, and recommends steps to implement remediation or mitigation to those vulnerabilities.
Examples of threats that can be prevented by a vulnerability assessment include:
Escalation of privileges.
SQL injection, XSS and other code injection attacks.
Insecure Software – software that has not been patched with the latest security updates.
The Vulnerability scanning process consists of three steps: Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Assessment and Remediation.
The objective of this step is to test the security status of all applications, servers and/or other systems by scanning them with automated tools, and/or testing and evaluating them manually. The process also relies on vulnerability databases, vendor vulnerability announcements, asset management systems and threat intelligence feeds to identify known security weaknesses.
The objective of this step is the ranking of vulnerabilities. It involves assigning a priority or severity score to each vulnerability, based on factors such as:
- Affected Systems.
- Data at risk.
- Ease of attack or compromise.
- The severity of an attack.
The objective of this step is the mitigation and remediation. It’s usually a joint task effort by the security staff, IT and operations teams, who determine the most effective path for remediation or mitigation of each vulnerability. Most companies should conduct regular vulnerability assessments on their networks in order to maintain updated and secure systems, not giving chance to any possible security breach.