There are many different ways to conduct a vulnerability assessment. The most important part is to ensure that the methodology used is proper for the organization and the assets being assessed.
Some common methods of conducting a vulnerability assessment include:
- Penetration testing
- Vulnerability scanning
- Manual analysis
- Risk management
1. Penetration Testing
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a type of security test that simulates an attack on a system or application. It is performed by ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities using an offensive or active set of tools that typically acts as a perpetrator.
Pen tests can be conducted manually or automatically. Manual penetration tests are conducted by ethical hackers who attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and applications. Automated penetration tests are conducted using software tools that simulate an attack.
2. Vulnerability Scanning
Vulnerability scanning is a type of automated test that scans for known vulnerabilities in systems and applications. Vulnerability scanners can be used to assess both internal and external systems.
Scanners use a database of known vulnerabilities, also called a vulnerability signature database. When a scanner identifies a potential vulnerability, it generates a vulnerability scanning report that includes information about the severity of the vulnerability and how it can be exploited.
3. Manual Analysis
Manual analysis is conducted by security analysts who manually review system code, configuration files, and log files to identify potential vulnerabilities. Manual analysis is often used in conjunction with automated tests such as penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.
4. Risk Management
Risk management is the process of knowing and mitigating risks to any organization’s IT or other internal systems. It is a proactive approach to security that helps organizations identify and reduce the impact of potential internal as well as external incoming and outgoing threats.
Risk management includes four steps:
- Identify – Identify potential risks to the organization
- Assess – Assess the likelihood and impact of each risk
- Mitigate – Mitigate the risks with controls such as security policies and procedures
- Monitor – Monitor the effectiveness of controls