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Vulnerability Assesment

Definition

Vulnerability Assessment tools (also known as Vulnerability Scanners) are batch-level products that scan servers, workstations, other devices, and applications to uncover security vulnerabilities. The scan information is compared with a database of known security holes (vulnerabilities) to determine the threat status of the device or application.

 

User Benefits

An automated Vulnerability Assessment solution can help security profesionals discover unmanaged devices on the network so that those devices can be brought under management or removed from the network. Scanning provides baseline vulnerability status, and trending provides evidence of the effectiveness of vulnerability management activities. Vulnerability reports that include recommendations for mitigation or remediation of vulnerable assets can improve the efficiency of IT operations, and risk-rated reports can help measure security effectiveness.

 

Business Impact

Vulnerability assessment solutions have become a modern necessity due to the increased security threats posed by hackers and other criminals who are on the look out for confidential information. This can be particularly damaging for any organization. Therefore, most of them have opted for assessments of various kinds to avoiding threats faced by the enterprise.

Vulnerability management represents a proactive approach to security. Rather than reacting to threats after they occur, you can proactively control or eliminate them.

A major benefit of vulnerability management is the built-in reports provided by VM software. Some of these reports are good enough for documentation demanded by auditors  checking for regulatory compliance.

The most important idea about compliance is that VM can automate much of what used to be an expensive, time-consuming, manual process. Getting the right VM solution can not only protect your network and data – it can also save you money by automating daily chores for VM!


Products supporting this technology

McAfee Qualys

How do you mitigate risks and protect your most valuable assets in the face of changing vulnerabilities and threats? How do you direct IT and security efforts when and where they are most needed? How do you improve workflow and confidently demonstrate compliance at audit time?

Traditionally, security measures for network protection were achieved through creating barriers against attacks using reactive security tools like firewalls or antivirus. Nowadays these reactive solutions aren’t enough anymore. Only utilizing proactive solutions that are capable of preventive discovery of vulnerabilities, risk reduction is more likely to be accomplished.

To a cyber criminal, vulnerabilities on a network are hidden, high-value assets. Their targeted exploitation may result in unauthorized entry into a network, which can expose confidential information, provide fuel for stolen identities, cause theft of business secrets, violate privacy provisions of laws and regulations, or paralyze business operations. New vulnerabilities appear every day due to flaws in software, faulty configuration of applications and infrastructure, and human error. Whatever their source, vulnerabilities do not go away by themselves. Their detection, removal and control require vulnerability management (VM) – the calibrated, continuous use of software tools and workflow that proactively purges exploitable risks.

Attacks exploiting security vulnerabilities for financial gain and criminal agendas continue to dominate headlines. Statistics from Microsoft bulletins and the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) suggest that the time it takes to release new exploits for a known vulnerability has decreased significantly in the past five years. This rapid release leaves more and more systems vulnerable to exploit attacks.

Vulnerability Assessment is the process of identifying and quantifying vulnerabilities in a system.

Vulnerability assessment products use either network- or host-based scanners to look into a device to determine the security vulnerabilities. These scanners search out and discover devices and try to find known vulnerabilities on target systems. They can both have credentialed access (using usernames and passwords) into devices and provide an uncredentialed (hacker's view) look at a device. Credentialed scanners can do a deep dive into the device to find known vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability assesment solutions can be appliance based, software distributions or offered as Software as a Service.

These are batch-level products that scan servers, workstations, other devices, and applications to uncover security vulnerabilities. The scan information is compared with a database of known security holes (vulnerabilities) to determine the threat status of the device or application. More sophisticated VA products can test for unknown vulnerabilities by mimicking common attack profiles to see if a device or an application can be penetrated.

Vulnerability Assessment is an essential component of an effective security program. VA initially provides discovery and security baseline data, and periodic rescanning provides updated data for vulnerability management, trending and compliance reporting.

IT security organizations require a network-based approach that can accurately discover and evaluate vulnerabilities on managed and unmanaged systems. Organizations also will need to implement the vulnerability management life cycle if they want to use VA to make the environment more secure.

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