Updated: Feb 10
Conducting a vulnerability assessment is important because the exercise will identify security flaws that exist in your information technology environment before they are discovered by a malicious computer hacker. Once the vulnerabilities are discovered you can correct them and lower your risk of becoming a victim of successful cybersecurity attack.
A vulnerability assessment will discover common security weaknesses such as:
Operating systems and applications that are not current with the latest security updates or patches.
Unsecure legacy operating systems that are no longer supported by manufacturers.
Open ports on perimeter defenses and other devices that allow malicious attackers to easily gain access to your private computer network.
All Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) exist on the computer network.
Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is a database of publicly disclosed information security issues. There are currently over 163 thousand CVE records cataloged and made publicly available by the CVE program. You can explore the database at www.cve.org. Why does this matter? Because it is important to recognize that new information security flaws are discovered regularly and then shared publicly. Sharing the information is not restrictive. Everyone can search the CVE database, including the hackers that intend to attack your computer network!
Executing routine vulnerability assessments will discover all the known vulnerabilities on your network before the bad actors have an opportunity to exploit them. Vulnerability assessments are nonintrusive and not disruptive. Typically, a vulnerability assessment can be completed in a day or two. The results of a vulnerability assessment are documented and provided to the stakeholder complete with recommendations around remediating any weaknesses found.
It is important to conduct vulnerability assessments regularly, at least every quarter if not more frequently. This is due to the dynamic nature of information technology. Many changes occur on a day-to-day basis that can introduce new exposures associated with information security.
The introduction or removal of employees and business process.
The implementation or elimination of hardware, software, or business applications.
Configuration changes are made to any element of the technology environment.
Newly discovered bugs and flaws found in off-the-shelf commercial software products.
Security shortcomings found during a vulnerability assessment can almost always be fixed. Many times the fixes are very easy to accomplish. Roughly 60% of all reported cybersecurity breaches occurred because the bad actors exploited common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE). This means that roughly 60% of all reported cybersecurity breaches could have been prevented if the victim had simply conducted a vulnerability assessment and made small improvements to their cybersecurity posture that would have eliminated a substantial amount of risk.