From what we see with active monitoring of client networks, threats can be discovered on a daily basis. Because some of these threats can damage your valuable data and systems, it is wise to scan your network regularly for any weaknesses a hacker might try to exploit.
It is equally true, however, that automated vulnerability scanning has its own limitations.
To equip you with some vulnerability scanning fundamentals, following are some pros and cons to keep in mind.
Advantages of Vulnerability Scanning
Speed: one benefit of vulnerability scanning tools is the generation of results that can be reviewed quickly by a seasoned cybersecurity team.
Repeatability: an automated vulnerability scan can, and should, be set up to run on a regular basis.
Easy of use: a good vulnerability scanning tool will come with a user-friendly interface. However, a security specialist is still required to understand the results and to quickly assess whether there truly exists a vulnerability that needs to be addressed.
Constant monitoring: vulnerability scanning software can be an integral part of an organization’s constant-monitoring security plan.
Drawbacks of Vulnerability Scanning
Discovery limitations: keep in mind, this sort of scan is not a full penetration test that is conducted by a live technician operating as a hacker. Vulnerability scans are useful for finding individual gaps that could be exploited; hackers often need to use multiple gaps in combination in order to fully exploit a network. When lone risks are discovered via a scan, that is merely a starting point for further investigation.
Only known risks can be found: a vulscan tool can only be expected to detect threats that are known to its database. Zero-day, or previously unknown, threats require an active threat monitoring solution, typically a SOC that is powered by AI.
Rules of the Road
Now that we have provided some of the plusses and minuses, here are key rules of the road for creating a successful vulnerability scanning program:
- Scan all network assets – believe it or not, we have seen instances where switches, routers and other hardware have been forgotten. Anything connected to your network is a possible threat surface and should be scanned regularly.
- Scan frequently – the gap between scans can be critical as this time interval leaves your systems exposed to new threats. If done frequently enough (weekly or monthly), then hardware can be scanned on a rotating basis, minimizing the time while providing layered network coverage. Your network architecture and device impact are factors that help determine scanning intervals.
- Set accountability –roles can be designed to protect specific devices and create a response plan if a risk is found. Keep in mind, asset owners don’t have to be confined to tech teams; business owners can also oversee some systems.
- Run patching processes – patching internet-enabled equipment for all discovered vulnerabilities is more crucial than patching similar devices that have already been blocked by firewalls or settings. This is a time-management practice that can be needed due to resource limitations and it is essential to focus on assets that provide the highest risk levels to the enterprise.
- Document all scan results – each vulnerability scan should be scheduled utilizing a management-approved timetable, with an audit process set to provide detailed reporting. By documenting the scan run according to a timetable, companies can monitor vulnerability trends and issues, identifying susceptible systems and creating accountability.
Interested in learning more about how Cynexlink provides pen testing and vulnerability scanning solutions for companies of all sizes? Contact us to learn more!