Cybersecurity is like a cat and mouse race. Security experts are trying to plug in all the loopholes while hackers are looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit to fulfill their malicious designs. Unfortunately, just like smart thieves, cybercriminals seem to be one step ahead of cybersecurity professionals. They take advantage of security vulnerabilities before security professionals can release a patch for it.

That is bad news for businesses who want to keep their critical business data safe. They will have to continuously scan for vulnerabilities in their systems to quickly patch them so it cannot be exploited by cyber attackers. That is where vulnerability scanning come into play. Still do not know what vulnerability scanning is and what are the different types of vulnerability scanning? You are at the right place.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about vulnerability scanning.

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning is a process of identifying vulnerabilities in network devices, computer systems and applications which can be exploited by cybercriminals. You must think like a threat actor and look for vulnerabilities in firewalls, applications, and services to get access to sensitive business data. To run vulnerability scans effectively, you must maintain a database of vulnerabilities so you can compare identified vulnerabilities with vulnerabilities in your database to fix them quickly.

Stephane Nappo, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, Groupe SEB summed it up brilliantly by saying, “Threat is a mirror of security gaps. Cyber-threat is mainly a reflection of our weaknesses. An accurate vision of digital and behavioral gaps is crucial for a consistent cyber-resilience.”

Greg York who is also the vice president of information security of Tribune Media at SecureWorld Chicago said, “I really think that if we change our own approach and thinking about what we have available to us, that is what will unlock our ability to truly excel in security. It’s a perspectives exercise. What would it look like if abundance were the reality and not resource constraint?”

Types of Vulnerability Scans

There are four different types of vulnerability scans.

Web application scans

Database scans

Authenticated scans

Unauthenticated scans

Web Application Scans

Web applications are apps that reside in a company’s own web servers and can easily be accessed by authorized users. If you buy vps 2020, your application might be hosted on that server.

Web applications consists of three different layers

Web browser

Content generation tool or technology

Database

The web browser sends a request to the middle layer which fetches data from the database and displays it on the web browser. Updating and modifying web applications is super easy as you do not have to install and run software on client machines to achieve this. This has led to growing popularity of web applications, but it has also brought it to the attention of cybercriminals who find new ways to target web applications.

They first study server infrastructure and the operating system server they are using and follow it up by surveying web applications and websites before launching a web application attack. Make sure the inputs are validated so attackers cannot use different techniques to inject malicious code in web applications.

Even though the number of attacks targeting web applications have decreased significantly but that does not mean that you should ignore web application security altogether as vulnerabilities found in web applications are usually severe. By running web application security scans, you can not only identify loopholes in web apps but can also identify suspicious and malicious behavior. This allows you to take corrective action before it is too late.

Database Scans

One of the most common types of attacks targeting database applications is SQL injection. The primary objective of SQL injection attacks is to insert malicious code into the database, which can steal, or corrupt data stored in the database. To ensure that does not happen to your database, businesses should constantly scan their database applications and services to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities in database applications. Once you have identified the risk, it is time to assess the severity of that risk before taking steps to mitigate the threat.

Authenticated Scans

Authenticated scans usually identify applications and operating system related security vulnerabilities. It also highlights loopholes in servers, workstations, and network hosts. Some host-based scans can also give you valuable insight into ports, services, patch history and system configuration. In addition to providing detailed information about operating systems, authenticated scans can also tell you about which software installation configuration problems and more. These scans also give you direct network access by using remote protocols.

Unauthenticated Scans

An unauthenticated scan can only analyze publicly available information but can also tell you if there is a wrongly configured firewall or vulnerable web servers by scanning these devices or by accessing the network they are connected to. What makes it stand out is its ability to detect security loopholes in both wireless and wired networks.

Here are some of the advantages of unauthenticated vulnerability scans

Easier to execute

Require fewer resources

No time constraints

Deliver quick results

If you want a bird’s eye view of your vulnerabilities and do not want to dig deeper, then running an unauthenticated scan is a much better choice.

Who Performs Vulnerability Scans?

In most cases, these vulnerability scans are performed by an internal IT security team, but you can also hire a managed security service provider. These scans are usually mandated by compliance regulations. Choose an external provider certified to perform them. One of the best examples in this regard could be PCI DSS standard which forces businesses to get vulnerability scans done from approved scanning vendors.

Conclusion

Vulnerability scanning should not be an one time activity but businesses should make it an integral part of their vulnerability assessment and mitigation program. It is an ever going process that will continue to identify loopholes and help you iron out these issues before they are exploited by hackers. Choose a vulnerability scanning type and tool that suits your business needs.

How do you conduct vulnerability scans? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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