Security vulnerabilities exist even in the seemingly secure and impenetrable applications and platforms. While the most obvious ones are fixed immediately, there are often several security flaws that are buried deep within. These require extensive research and adoption of advanced security assessment techniques like VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment And Penetration Testing) to discover and patch. The best of the Vulnerability Assessment Tools is often meticulous and thorough instead of being sophisticated and complex.
Companies often have a very hard time recognizing, categorizing, and characterizing the security loopholes inside their own digital infrastructure. However, that doesn’t mean the network infrastructure, computers, hardware system, and software don’t have several security vulnerabilities hiding and simply waiting to be discovered and exploited. With the ongoing health crisis showing no signs of receding, there’s a serious need to conduct a vulnerability assessment of each and every digital product and platform.
Vulnerability Assessment Significance and Importance:
Vulnerability Assessment and Management tools help organizations stay a step ahead of the onslaught of security issues, loopholes, and undiscovered flaws. The tools used to assess the integrity and safeguards of any digital infrastructure help the IT staff quickly target, identify, and even classify security threats well before they are discovered by a third party or an external agency.
It is important to know beforehand which vulnerability assessment platforms and tools are relevant and needed. The requirement is often judged based on the type of industry. Companies designing, maintaining, and utilizing Vulnerability Assessment Tools usually have an extensive and continually updated database containing information on almost every security vulnerability discovered and addressed by the security research team.
Vulnerability Assessment Tools and their analysis is critical because it helps companies conduct a thorough security audit, and prioritize the results based upon severity, exposure, compliance status, and data classification. This allows the IT team to direct attention to security threats that can have the greatest impact.
Choosing The Right Vulnerability Assessment Tool:
There are several Vulnerability Assessment Tools and suites. However, it is important for companies to take into consideration several finer aspects while making the decision. Moreover, companies must first decide who will be using the tools. Companies might plan to extend access beyond the core information security team to systems engineers who may not be well versed in the use of security products. A complex platform that is difficult to understand and navigate will make matters even more difficult.
Once the company decides who will use the platform, then comes the feature list. There are tons of features and claimed support. However, it is critical for companies to get a clear idea about the organization that is offering a Vulnerability Assessment Tool. In addition to the feature-list, the credibility, and reputation of the security and penetration testing platform provider matters. Some of the most important and critical features that companies must expect within a vulnerability assessment tool are as follows:
Continuous or Intermittent Vulnerability Testing:
As we had discussed in our earlier articles, some companies may require testing tools that work round the clock to continuously monitor for threats and attempt to find loopholes. Although a lot more intensive and resource hungry, such tools are needed in several cases where the chances of attacks are very high.
For the majority of companies, however, tools that intermittently evaluate the digital systems and confirm they are working in a secure environment is enough. Then there is White Box and Black Testing techniques that are periodically conducted which rely on synthetically simulated attacks on the systems. These are carried out by trained and authorized hackers who attempt to gain unauthorized entry and report their findings.
Companies must ensure the chosen product’s signature database include coverage for the majority of applications, operating systems and infrastructure components. If not, it is the Vulnerability Assessment Tool provider’s primary responsibility to ensure the database is updated. An incomplete database will result in a false sense of security and affirmation about the systems being completely impenetrable or protected.
Any Vulnerability Assessment Tool must have the ability to detect issues with configurations in the environments of any tools companies might use such Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or any combination of the three.
Quality and Speed of Updates:
Vendors offering assessment tools should have an acceptably high frequency of providing updates. Moreover, these updates must include new signatures to accurately detect vulnerabilities. A simple observation of the time-gap between the discovery of a high-severity vulnerability and the availability of a signature to detect the same is a great indicator of the speed and reputation of the vendor.
Industry Use Cases For Pharma, Saas, Banking:
It is interesting and concerning to note that digital or online criminals often have a very different set of attacks and tools to break into particular industries. Some of the most common targets include medium and large pharmaceutical companies, SaaS providers, Banking sector, eCommerce, etc. Let’s understand how these industries vary in terms of their operations and how criminals vary their approach.
The pharmaceutical industry’s highly scattered supply chain and increasingly mobile workforce are often extremely vulnerable. This is because there are dozens of potentially exploitable loopholes on thousands of devices being used by employees, vendors, distributors, manufacturers, etc. Hackers have to merely gain unauthorized entry through one of the poorly secured devices, and then they can move through the entire network.
In addition to the most remote workforce, pharmaceutical organizations are also facing one of the biggest healthcare crises. While pharma companies race to create the first vaccine to the novel virus, cyber-criminals are capitalizing on the pandemonium by breaking into otherwise secure databases and stealing research and IP, and distributing ransomware to freeze organizations out of their own research.
Some of the most common forms of attacks on the pharma sector involve malware that uses stolen credentials to send malicious emails containing attachments and links that allow further spread.
The SaaS sector faces similar threats as the Pharma sector. There are multiple vulnerable points. Adding to the complexity is the active use of multiple ‘ports’ and their supported functionality. If that’s not enough, the SaaS platforms cannot tolerate service disruptions even during vulnerability scans. Vulnerability Assessment Tools have to ensure scans do not trigger memory corruption, cause excessive usage of resources or have assertion failures, and still manage to detect vulnerabilities.
The banking sector is one of the most gravely hit during the ongoing crisis. The unending economic downturn is severely stressing the conventional banking system. One of the gravest threats to the banking system is the usage of dated software. Many financial institutions continue to use old or even outdated software simply because the cost to upgrade is prohibitively expensive. Vulnerability Assessment Tool vendors, therefore, have to work accordingly and secure archaic platforms against modern-day threats.
Additionally, banking systems often prioritize efficiency and reliability over cutting edge sophistication. Interestingly, even the digital thieves have aligned their priorities accordingly, wherein attackers prioritize efficiency instead of technical sophistication. Simply put, a crude but effective hack is highly valued.
Why and How The Above Industries Should Prioritize
All the above-mentioned sectors, and the majority of companies relying on the internet, computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. need to conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment.
A recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum showed that Cyberattacks and data fraud rank 3rd among the greatest COVID-19 related business concerns.
Considering the present circumstances it is imperative to proactively investigate, discover, and patch security loopholes before they are exploited. Remote working is here to stay, and Work from Home is increasing. Hence exploiting security flaws for commercial or intellectual benefits is on the rise.
Exact statistics are extremely difficult to obtain primarily because companies seldom openly confirm security breaches and the monetary or intellectual losses associated with them. However, experts indicate attacks have risen exponentially in the recent past.
Hackers and malicious code writers are increasingly attempting to dig up new vulnerabilities and scanning for old but still active or unpatched loopholes they can exploit. Needless to add, it is critical for companies to have a dependable Vulnerability Assessment Tool beating the hackers in their own game.