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Title: Conducting an Effective Vulnerability Assessment

There’s not much hidden in the name of vulnerability assessment. It’s more or less a way for enterprises to assess their…vulnerabilities. However, the more pressing question is what vulnerabilities are we talking about here? The answer to that becomes significantly more complex.

Here is what you need to know about conducting an effective vulnerability assessment.

What Is a Vulnerability Assessment?

Vulnerability assessments are essential to ensuring network security. Without them, how can you really be confident your network is airtight? Threats can come from countless places, all the time. And worse, they’re only growing more sophisticated.

A report by IBM noted the average cost for a data breach runs just under $4 million. That’s no small change. But the costs can easily run higher —especially if it’s particularly sensitive data coming from a larger organization.

Now granted, no amount of security will make a network 100 percent secure. There’s always going to be risks. This is particularly true considering social engineering is one of the most effective methods of stealing data. Still, vulnerability assessment remains a critical part of running an enterprise in today’s world. Failure to commit to this leaves an opening for the iniquitous. Sooner or later, they’ll find a way to exploit it.

What Are the Important Steps of a Vulnerability Assessment?

Now that you understand the meaning and purpose of vulnerability assessment, it’s time to dig into the details. Your organization is only going to run a successful vulnerability assessment if you take the time to do it right. If not, it’s essentially wasted time.

Here are some things to consider:

Gather as much information about your networks as possible. Enterprise network systems are often incredibly complex. This factor can be exaggerated by the tricky relationship between on-premise and cloud networks in terms of how they interact and overlap within an organization. Getting a baseline is important for assessing vulnerabilities, as well as for identifying threats down the line. Don’t leave any stone unturned here. It’s possible you’ll discover vulnerabilities just in this initial stage. It’s also important to understand the risk and importance of the devices being assessed.

Run the assessment in-house or hire someone? There are pros and cons to both. You’ll save money in the short run doing it in-house, but you might get burned later if something is missed. The nature of your data and business might also play a role in determining whom you want to hire.

Scan for vulnerabilities. Once you’ve determined which route makes most sense for your enterprise, it’s time to complete the scan. It’s critical to understand the data reporting and ethics laws governing your industry before you do this. Otherwise, you’ll risk being non-compliant with things like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) rules.

Compile a report based on the findings. Once all the previous steps have been done, it’s time to actually start assessing things. It’s important to be as precise and specific as possible here. You want to have a strong record of what was found where and when, and what method was used to find it.

Once you’ve completed these things, IT team members can start working on fixing the vulnerabilities. The sooner this is done, the less likely you’ll be to end up on the wrong end of a data breach. No matter your industry, vulnerability assessments are key for any enterprise network system.