Vulnerability Analysis

4 Steps to a Successful Vulnerability Analysis

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A cybersecurity expert plays the same role in their organization as a soldier does on the battlefield or a sportsperson during a game. Every organization today is dependent on IT. The smallest of loopholes can cause a massive breach, resulting in loss of data, finances, and reputation. This is where a cybersecurity officer steps in to perform vulnerability analysis and ensure these vulnerabilities are closed and monitored regularly.

In the modern world, awareness about vulnerability is not just limited to the IT and cybersecurity department. Cyber hygiene is essential for anyone whose work uses third-party apps and is connected to the internet 24×7. Employers should train their employees with a detailed understanding of ethical hacking to detect possible breaches on time. It is also a jumping-off point for professionals who wish to achieve more in their careers and find a role as a cybersecurity expert.

What Is Vulnerability Analysis?

Vulnerability assessment or vulnerability analysis is a testing process that involves identifying, measuring, prioritizing, and ranking the system for vulnerabilities. The process either consists of manual or automated approaches with differing degrees of precision and complete coverage. The end goal is to protect systems from unauthorized access and data breaches.

Vulnerability assessment is not industry-specific. It is vital for various systems, including:

  • Information technology systems
  • Communication systems
  • Transportation systems
  • Water supply systems
  • Energy supply systems

What Are Examples of Vulnerability?

Understanding different types of vulnerabilities is essential for protecting your organization from malicious attacks. An issue like this can expose the system to multiple threats. Common examples of network security vulnerabilities are:

Unencrypted data on the network

An unencrypted network may expose sensitive information. Lack of encryption doesn’t always result in an attack. But these issues make it easy for hackers to steal sensitive data for malicious purposes. The 2016 Mossack Fonseca law firm attack saw more than 11 million confidential documents being stolen. The reason was attributed to external-facing servers with outdated software lacking critical security updates.

Unknown security bugs in software or programming interfaces

Cybercriminals are regularly hunting for unknown security bugs within the system. These bugs, if not taken care of, can cause major damage. Unknown security bugs are the key pain points of system vulnerability because they are tough to detect. These issues create problems in the long run and require a thorough analysis from time to time.

Hidden backdoor program

A hidden backdoor is an example of a deliberately designed computer security vulnerability. It gets installed in the computer system without the knowledge of the user. Hidden backdoors are a massive software vulnerability because they allow hackers to access the compromised system and other connected networks. Many pirated WordPress themes are notorious for being bundled with backdoors. Always go with paid versions of the themes that are legally available, otherwise you’ll end up losing access to a hacker.

Automated running of scripts without malware/virus checks

Certain web browsers that automatically run “safe” or “trusted” scripts often cause a network security vulnerability. Cybercriminals exploit this vulnerability by imitating a trusted piece of code and deceiving the browser into running malware without the user’s consent. In most cases, they don’t know that this “feature” should be disabled.

Superuser or admin account privileges

Certain vulnerabilities occur due to faulty authentication mechanisms. The most basic principle of handling software vulnerabilities is to restrict user access. The damage drops if the user has access to limited information.

What Are the Four Main Types of Vulnerabilities?

Certified ethical hackers perform a vulnerability analysis using various tools and scanners to discover grey areas and risks in a system. The four main types of vulnerabilities in cybersecurity are:

  • Human Vulnerabilities: Lack of information can disrupt systems or networks and provide access to malicious actors.
  • Network Vulnerabilities: Network vulnerabilities include an inadequately configured firewall and insecure Wi-Fi access points.
  • Process Vulnerabilities: Process vulnerabilities can be exposed through certain process controls or even an absence of one, i.e., weak passwords.
  • Operating System Vulnerabilities: These vulnerabilities exist within a specific operating system and malicious attackers can exploit them to damage or access information from the system.

Four Steps to Vulnerability Assessment

Four Steps to Vulnerability Assessment

Step 1: Initial Assessment (Planning)

  • Identify your assets and know the worth of the devices that are part of your network.
  • Identify the risks and critical value device. It should also include a security analysis vulnerability scanner.
  • Analyze if the device is accessible to everyone or limited to the authorized users and administrators alone.

The information collected from the above three steps can be used to find solutions and predict:

  • The level and impact of risk.
  • Analysis of the impact of the said risk(s) on the business.
  • Proposing a risk strategy.
  • Simulating a cyberattack scenario.
  • Possible mitigation of risks for each device or service.
  • Setting up practices and policies for risk mitigation in each device.

Step 2: System Baseline Definition

  • Documentation of installed systems on your network, their capabilities, and the users who have access.
  • Document all the services, processes, and open ports of those devices.
  • Scan your device or use threat intelligence and a vulnerability database to detect vulnerabilities and remove false positives.

Furthermore, it would help if you acquainted yourself with certified drivers and software. You can create a record of public data and vulnerabilities regarding the device program, vendor, version, and other significant details. This way, you can avoid installing any low-quality product with high risk.

Step 3: Vulnerability Assessment and Risk Assessment

This stage helps in identifying the root cause of the vulnerabilities. From here, you can prioritize such vulnerabilities according to the threat level.

For example, if the source of vulnerability is an obsolete version of an open-source library, you need to upgrade it.

A certified ethical hacker or other specialized security analyst will conduct the risk assessment by allocating a severity score. They will rank the vulnerability based on the following factors:

  • Severity of an attack.
  • Systems affected during that attack.
  • The potential business function(s) at risk.
  • The possible harm the vulnerability may trigger.

Step 4: Reporting and Remediation

This stage is the most important because it aims to close all the security gaps. It is usually a team effort by the security staff, IT professionals, developers, and operations team. It also requires involvement from the incidence response team. Their presence ascertains the most effective response and remediation strategy that is mapped out in a vulnerability assessment report. This report should include:

  • Introduction of new techniques for risk mitigation.
  • Identifying the potential gap between the results and the system baseline.
  • Implementing measures to mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
  • Solutions are reported based on the original assessment objectives.
  • Conclusions are drawn according to the data collected during vulnerability assessment and are organized to assure the findings’ assessment.

Increasing Global Demand for Ethical Hackers

Vulnerabilities are just one of the major risks that haunt businesses. Fileless malware, eavesdropping, web shell, OT attacks, etc., are some of the attack vectors that every business needs protection from.

Due to this, the global demand for ethical hackers is at an all-time high. But there is a clear lack of professionals who are well-versed in the tools of the industry. The shortage of talent to fill these positions has become more evident due to global pandemics and lockdowns.

2021 is the right time to take advantage of this demand and start a career in one of the most promising professions of this era. A reputable certification course is the quickest path to landing a job with high levels of satisfaction and salary.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH v11) has been designed by industry leaders for the industry leaders of the future. The course develops a strong fundamental knowledge of vulnerability analysis along with other important tools and techniques.

With CEH v11, you get:

  • Vendor-neutral training on ethical hacking with a special focus on network security.
  • Lessons on cloud computing in ethical hacking.
  • Use of honeypots in ethical hacking.
  • Risk assessment techniques.

CEH v11 is the only program to be upgraded continuously with real-world case studies. As it is vendor-neutral, you are free to perform your analysis as per your preferences. CEH v11 takes your IT and cybersecurity skills to another level and opens doors to organizations around the world.

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