There’s a big misconception that small businesses are spared by hackers and attackers. But this is far from reality. Vulnerabilities exist in hardware, software, and configurations regardless of the organization’s size. And attackers prefer to target smaller businesses because they are easier to hack into since security is usually relaxed.
We often hear prospective clients say they don’t need vulnerability risk assessments because they’re such a small organization. But this false notion that could prove very costly for a business, big or small - SME or MNC.
So, we decided to address this issue in this article. Here at Appknox, we live and breathe security and love nothing more than to make businesses more secure. So let’s dive right in.
What is VAPT and why do you need it?
VAPT is a vulnerability assessment and penetration test. The vulnerability assessment scans the web application or network ports to find any indicators of vulnerabilities. This is the first level of checks and can show false positives as they are only indicators.
The penetration test goes a step further and checks if these vulnerabilities in a web or network of systems and applications are valid. It attempts to exploit the issues found to confirm if hackers can break in using these vulnerabilities.
Why do SMEs and MNCs need VAPT?
SMEs may find it harder to fit VAPT into their budget. Plus, as we mentioned, there’s the notion that hackers won’t bother about small businesses as they can’t gain much from them. But in reality, hackers love small businesses. They’re usually much easier to hack as security measures are not as strict.
Hackers find ways to exploit big and small businesses. They can use your SME to target bigger organizations.
MNCs are a lucrative target for hackers as they have much more to gain. In addition, the systems used are much more complex.
Plus, now there are more regulatory requirements for all organizations to follow.
So, small or large, we recommend testing and tightening up security. A penetration test should be performed on new systems before they’re implemented. If there are significant changes to the code or environment of the system, you should run the test again.
You also need to run the test as part of your annual maintenance. If you deal with sensitive data and are concerned about financial data and privacy data, or even critical processes, then you should consider increasing the frequency of these tests.
Consideration factors for vulnerability assessment:
- Identify vulnerabilities in the perimeter systems that protect your network
The first step you need to take is getting an overview of what your systems are running and what’s protecting it. You need to determine if there are any possible threats in your system’s firewall, scanners and other protective layers that hackers could exploit to get in. This ensures your systems are fortified and hackers are kept out.
- Verify that change management processes are keeping pace with security benchmarks
In order to prevent the most dangerous threats looming over industries today, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) has a list of Top 20 Critical Security Controls (CIS 20). This is a set of best practices developed by leading security experts from all over the globe.
Every year these practices are reviewed, refined and validated. It’s recommended that your security practices keep up with benchmarks of CIS 20.
- Validate the actions of third-party API's and SDK's
It’s not uncommon for businesses to blindly trust third-party apps and software programs. But since such apps deal with critical data sometimes, its best to validate their APIs (Application Programming Interface) and SKD (Software Development Kit).
For instance, CamScanner, a trusted app among businesses and individuals, used to convert any photo of a document into a scanned copy, was found to have a malicious model. This could jeopardize businesses by signing them up for paid subscriptions and could compromise data.
- Assuring customers /client their data is in safe hands
With the rise of data breaches, customers are becoming more aware of the dangers of having their personal or critical data leaked. 59% of consumers fear that their personal data is vulnerable to hackers and 54% feel that businesses don’t keep customer’s best interests in mind.
VAPT and other security measures will assure customers and clients that as an organization, you have taken appropriate measures.
What does VAPT do?
Depending on the scope of assessment and testing, a comprehensive vulnerability test would cover the following areas:
- Access and check control parameters
- Enforce a proper application workflow sequence
- Check if there are any loopholes in any authentication processes and ensure they cannot be bypassed
- Ensure third-parties or any other person other than the authorized user cannot intercept a password during reset
- Check if sessions are secure and cannot be tapped into
- Assess web server configuration
- Ensure an application does not present error messages that could be used in an attack
- Review SSL versions, key exchange methods, algorithms, and key lengths
- Run through Script, SQL, OS Command, and LDAP injections
We’ve put together a recommended list of the best penetration testing tools that can ensure and enhance the security of applications around the world.
To sum up, it must be stated again that all organizations - big or small - are vulnerable and far more susceptible to cyberattacks than before. An attack can impact your business and cause irreparable damage.
The age-old saying is applicable here - prevention is better than cure! Taking control of your security from the start can help prevent disasters like data breaches (the costs of which skyrocket). The security tools and tests are already available, all that’s left to keep attackers at bay is to implement them!