Your business’s IT security systems can’t remain optimized forever. With the high value of sensitive personal data on the dark web and growing number of attack vectors, cyber criminals are more motivated than ever to constantly change up their attack tactics and dig deep for new vulnerabilities as they arise.
Staying two steps ahead requires businesses to perform security tests and audits regularly to assess what’s working in your cybersecurity infrastructure and what isn’t, and identify critical weaknesses.
Three common types of security tests include:
1. Network Vulnerability Scanning
Secure, fast and cost-effective, network vulnerability testing is a valuable tool for ensuring that system security patches are up-to-date and security settings, accurately configured. The most basic form of security testing, network vulnerability scans search for known common vulnerabilities; then logs and reports them with associated severity levels. If run consistently, these types of scans provide an early warning when a system is misconfigured or is missing a critical security patch.
Network vulnerability scans are typically performed from the Internet. For a more comprehensive scan, it’s recommended you conduct them from behind your firewall. This ensures that all vulnerabilities are accounted for—including internal weaknesses that would otherwise be invisible once an attacker infiltrates the network.
For the ultimate network visibility and the most comprehensive view of patch and configuration status, network scanning tools can even be configured with authentication credentials that detect social engineering and other phishing-type vulnerabilities not typically detectable on a basic network scan.
2. Application Vulnerability Scanning
While network scanning tools search for common vulnerabilities that are known, application vulnerability scans look for previously undocumented weaknesses in custom applications. Instead of checking just for known vulnerability signatures, they test the entirety of an application’s functionality to identify common flaws.
When used in combination with network scanners and human-driven penetration testing, application scanners can provide valuable information as a starting point for a more in-depth security and vulnerability analysis.
3. Penetration Testing
Real-world data breaches are rarely caused by isolated network vulnerabilities. That’s why network and application scanning should be complemented with a penetration test that goes beyond common severity levels. This is required to simulate attacks by more sophisticated hackers who often string together multiple vulnerabilities low in criticality and combine them with local weaknesses that stay under the security radar.
Penetration tests build on automated network and application scanning by adding the human ingenuity factor in the form of skilled, white-hat hackers. These ethical hackers simulate real-world cyber attacks against a wide range of attack vectors to provide a realistic assessment of an organization’s vulnerabilities across the entire network.
Post-Security-Test Action Steps
Of course, testing and assessments are only valuable to businesses that take steps to address the results. We can help you make sense of your IT security testing options and recommend best-in-class technology solutions to make sure you’re always at least two steps ahead of the threats.