A young man with glasses and curly hair sits at a computer desk, focused on the screen. Two other people are seen working in the background in a modern, dimly lit office environment. Various computer equipment and monitors are arranged on the desks as he conducts vulnerability analysis.

Although ‘vulnerability scanning’ is a broad term referring to a process involving detecting any defects in host configuration, the Operating System and installed applications, a vulnerability scan can involve various processes.  

However, despite diverse ways to perform vulnerability scanning of an organisation’s security network, there is no doubt about the importance of having a vulnerability scanning solution.  

Organisations of all sizes must understand and be able to patch vulnerabilities across their networks. When appropriate, with security controls and protection in place, organisations can secure their networks, users, and data.  

Search Security suggests that: 

‘A vulnerability scan detects and classifies system weaknesses in computers, networks and communications equipment and predicts the effectiveness of countermeasures. A scan may be performed by an organisation’s IT department or a security service provider, possibly as a condition imposed by some authority.’    

Why is Vulnerability Scanning so Important?  

Network scanning can help organisations identify vulnerabilities in their networks and connected devices. It can also help identify current vulnerabilities and potential security flaws. By conducting this scan, you can ensure that your organisation has the proper security controls and measures in place to prevent and best protect your network against malicious attackers.  

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) suggests that:  

‘Vulnerability scanning affords an organisation the ability to keep pace with individuals and groups intent on compromising systems, many of which use similar tools and techniques to discover security flaws’ 

Scanning your network for vulnerabilities is essential for larger and smaller organisations across various industries. The fluid threat landscape means that security risks constantly evolve, penetrating all sizes and industries networks.  

Vulnerability scanning can also help your organisation adhere to compliance regulations that potentially require regular vulnerability scanning and reporting. This is aligned with the patching or organisational security policy or framework but recommended, at minimum, every two weeks, preferably more often.  

What is Network Level Vulnerability Scanning?  

Network-level vulnerability scanning is a comprehensive scan of an organisation’s overall systems and devices, including the operating system, patches, installed software, hardware, anti-virus, and firewalls.  

After a complete network-level vulnerability scan, Sapphire can determine any current or potential vulnerabilities in an organisation’s network systems. Once vulnerabilities are revealed, an organisation can take a solution to remediate or implement security measures.  

These network-level vulnerability scans will require elevated privileges on the targeted hosts.  

What is the Difference between Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing?  

A vulnerability scan can review vulnerabilities of external and internal infrastructure (based on IP ranges). This assessment reveals a security snapshot of all vulnerabilities in an organisation’s systems. This assessment can reveal risks and show whether an attacker can exploit those vulnerabilities.  

Penetration tests can demonstrate to an organisation the level of risk for each user’s level of privilege. They expose tactics, techniques, and any other way that a potential attacker can access and compromise an organisation. Open tests help expose these potential vulnerabilities, but they can also help organisations comply with legislation, allocate resources, and develop cybersecurity strategies to keep ahead of potential attackers.  

However, Sapphire can combine vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to expose vulnerabilities in an annual test programme.  

Final Thoughts   

Vulnerability scanning is vital for organisations as cyber criminals find new ways to breach networks daily. Regularly scanning your organisation’s infrastructure for these newly evolved vulnerabilities is necessary to keep abreast of malicious attackers’ techniques.  

However, vulnerability scanning is not just a one-time process; it constantly repeats scans to fix vulnerabilities in a fluid threat landscape.  

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

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