Business entities of all sizes and across all industries need to keep cyber threats at bay. Unfortunately, the list of companies getting penalized for data breaches that resulted in customer information leakage continues to grow. Even big entities, like eBay and LinkedIn, had to face backlash because they got hacked. If only these entities have practiced regular vulnerability assessment of their systems, they probably wouldn’t experience data breaches in the first place.
Defining Vulnerability Assessment
The term has been loosely applied among industries like energy supply, transportation, utilities, and communications. It means testing existing systems and infrastructure to see if they can withstand threats, like disasters and unauthorized access. Since vulnerability assessments are instrumental in preventing your system and network from getting compromised, they’re a crucial piece to the puzzle for your organization’s overall security.
Advantages Of Vulnerability Assessment
For this article, vulnerability assessment will focus on a company’s IT systems. While there are resources that use the terms vulnerability assessment and penetration testing interchangeably, they’re distinct processes.
Penetration testing or pen test simulates cyber-attacks so that an organization will be ready to face such threats when they come. On the other hand, vulnerability assessment involves comprehensive testing of the organization’s entire system and networks. Here are some advantages of such a process:
1. You’re Better Equipped To Appraise Third-Party Providers
Like their customers, businesses also need to buy products and services from other providers. In other words, companies are customers themselves.
Many of these products and services have to do with IT infrastructures like computers, servers, customer relationship management software, and even shopping cart software.
Naturally, third-party providers will try to sell you their wares. But before you sign the deal, you need to make sure that the tools you’re getting are free from security issues. This is where various security testing methods can help your organization.
By implementing your own vulnerability assessment, you’re better equipped to detect malicious actors or third-party software that may penetrate your system. Experts use fuzz testing to look for unknown vulnerabilities, and it would be best to include it in your assessment protocols.
2. You Earn More Trust From Customers And Stakeholders
Modern consumers buy products and services online. In the process, they’re allowing businesses to access their personal data. As a company, it’s your obligation to protect your customers’ information. Across many industries, data protection can make or break a company’s reputation and bottom line. If you can’t assure your customers that their data is safe, they’re more than willing to take their business elsewhere.
Data protection can give you a competitive edge, but it can be quite challenging. For one thing, hackers are getting smarter. As security systems become more sophisticated, hackers are also elevating their tools and skills. This is the reason why you need to invest in a formidable cybersecurity system for your organization. Regular vulnerability testing is part of that.
In simple terms, you need to fortify your system security to gain your customers’ trust.
3. You Can Identify And Patch Vulnerabilities
Vulnerability assessment allows you to identify and fix the weakest links in your system. These are perhaps the two most obvious advantages of performing tests.
Your assessment will allow you to quantify the risks that your sensitive data and systems could come up against. This means you don’t have to rely on luck to keep out malicious entities or prevent threats to your system.
Once you’ve identified your system’s weaknesses, you’ll be in a better position to fix any flaw and prevent intrusions. Periodic testing will keep your system updated. Third-party providers regularly issue patches to update or upgrade firmware. Such updates can fix security flaws and prevent future attacks.
4. You Minimize Software Configuration Mistakes
When you perform comprehensive vulnerability testing, you’ll discover threats from outside your system and network and also those that can potentially emanate from poorly configured software and infrastructure. It’s one thing to rely on your own IT department to ensure that any new software installation will function seamlessly with existing systems. It’s quite another to have a third-party vulnerability assessment consultant, which will provide you a fresh perspective when configuring hardware and software installations. Familiarity could, sometimes, make your own people complacent.
5. You Meet Regulatory Standards
More than just beefing up your organization’s security, periodic vulnerability assessments are also required by authorities and relevant certification bodies like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In other words, you need to conduct vulnerability tests as part of compliance requirements, especially if your business belongs to a regulated industry.
Ultimately, your compliance and passing the certification standards will mean that your business can meet consumers’ quality expectations. Thus, you have a better chance of improving your bottom line.
6. You Save Time
If your business suffers security breaches, there’s no doubt that your operations will slow down or even grind to a halt. You can’t do business until you address the problem. And, that’ll take time and money. But if you have periodically implemented vulnerability assessments, you’ll be able to lessen the risks and accurately pinpoint the problem areas. This means you’ll be able to respond quickly and fix any breakdown in your system or network, saving you time in the process.
7. You Avoid Costly Legal Action
Data breaches can lead to legal action. If hackers gained access to your system and networks, and your customers’ information becomes compromised, your organization could face litigation. When you’re brought to court, it can only mean added expenses. Such costs don’t only refer to lawyers’ fees but also compensation expenses for customers who have been victimized by the security breach.
Again, periodic vulnerability testing can help you patch up and prevent unauthorized access to your data. As a result, it also enables you to avoid substantial legal headaches and costs.
As threats in systems and networks become more dangerous, it would be best for businesses to implement periodic vulnerability assessments as part of their overall security solutions. These tests put you in a better position to fight off security breaches in your organization. It also corrects faulty system configurations and prepares you for future upgrades. But the most significant advantages include increased customer trust, regulatory compliance, avoiding costly litigation, and saving time by preventing prolonged downtimes.
As an organization, you must implement vulnerability assessment to protect your operation and your business’ reputation. Along with your in-house IT team, you can hire third-party testers to give you fresh perspectives on your system and network performance.