Vulnerability assessment

4 Steps to a Successful Vulnerability assessment

Cyber attackers are constantly on the lookout for ways to take advantage of your security vulnerabilities. However, with vulnerability assessment, IT security experts, cybersecurity professionals, and even security enthusiasts can identify the grey areas in a system or network to improve the security level of certain systems. This can be done using four steps – initial assessment, getting to know the installed systems, vulnerability assessment and risk assessment, and remediation.

The perfect way to execute these steps is to undergo training where you can attain both knowledge and skills. EC-Council offers an industry-recognized cybersecurity program called the

What does vulnerability mean?

Before you can understand what vulnerability assessment consists of and how to conduct a vulnerability assessment, you must first understand what vulnerability means. A vulnerability may be perceived as a weakness in internal controls or a gap in security processes that can be exploited, leading to a security breach.

A vulnerability can also be described as a defect in the software design or a bug in code, which, when exploited, can cause severe harm. Exploitation can happen through a verified or unverified hacker.


What is Vulnerability assessment?

Vulnerability assessment or vulnerability analysis is a testing process that involves identifying, measuring, prioritizing, and ranking the vulnerabilities within an information system. It involves a systematic review of cybersecurity weaknesses or security defects within a specific timeframe.

Assessments like this may be performed on behalf of a range of diverse organizations, from large regional infrastructures to small businesses. Vulnerability assessment is not industry-specific. The process may consist of manual and automated approaches with differing degrees of precision and an emphasis on complete coverage.

The following are examples of systems where vulnerability assessment can be conducted:

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

What is an example of a vulnerability?

A crucial aspect of protecting your organization from social engineering attacks or cybersecurity threats is knowing the different types of vulnerability that can expose your network or system to threats and risks. Some common examples of network security vulnerabilities are:

Unencrypted Data on the Network

Not having encryption on your network may expose the information within to exploitation. Your lack of encryption may not trigger an attack; however, you make it easy for hackers to steal sensitive data and use them for malicious purposes.

Although encryption may not exactly deter an attack, it prevents perpetrators from putting stolen data to use. This makes the information a total gibberish until it can be decrypted.

Unknown Security Bugs in Software or Programming Interfaces

Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for programming bugs and unknown security bugs. Unknown security bugs, unanticipated code interactions, and programming bugs are the most prevalent computer security vulnerabilities that are often exploited.

Since computer software is extremely complex and this complexity is increased when two or more programs are made to the interface, it is almost impossible to predict the creation of these system vulnerabilities. Likewise, there are no restrictions for the software combinations that may be located on a computer system, talk more of an entire network.

Hidden backdoor program

The hidden backdoor is an example of a deliberately designed computer security vulnerability. A hidden backdoor program is so-called because it is installed into computer systems without the knowledge of the user. This is considered a massive software vulnerability because it makes it easier for a malicious hacker, who is aware of the presence of a backdoor to illegally gain access to the compromised system and other networks it is attached to.

Automated Running of Scripts without Malware/Virus Checks

Another popular network security vulnerability often exploited by cybercriminals is the use of certain web browsers that tend to automatically run “safe” or “trusted” scripts. The problem with these browsers is that cybercriminals could imitate a trusted piece of code and deceive the browser into running malware without the consent or involvement of the user. The problem is that the user may not know that this “feature” should be disabled.

Superuser or admin account privileges

Escalation of privileges due to faulty authentication mechanisms is another example of a security vulnerability. The most basic principles of handling software vulnerabilities are to restrict the access of software users because the less the information a user can access, the less the damage that the user account can do if attacked.

Not controlling user account privileges allows nearly every user in the network to have admin account or superuser privileges. Also, some system security configuration settings are so faulty to the extent that they allow unprivileged users to generate their admin-level user accounts.

What are the 4 main types of vulnerabilities?

Certified ethical hackers perform vulnerability assessment using various tools, methods, and scanners to discover threats, grey areas, and risks in a system. The four main types of vulnerability in cybersecurity include:

Human Vulnerabilities

The human element is the weakest link in cybersecurity architecture. Emotional vulnerability is the leading vulnerability in humans. An error by the target can easily disrupt systems or networks, expose sensitive data, and mostly create an opening for malicious hackers to exploit access points.

Network Vulnerabilities

These refer to flaws within a network’s software or hardware that makes it susceptible to potential intrusion by an external attacker. Network vulnerabilities may include an inadequately configured firewall and insecure Wi-Fi access points.

Process Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities can be exposed through certain process controls or even an absence of one. An instance of a process vulnerability is the application of weak passwords, which may also be included as a human vulnerability.

Operating System Vulnerabilities

These refer to vulnerabilities within a specific operating system, which a malicious attacker can exploit to obtain to cause damage or access to the asset the operating system is installed on. Examples include default superuser accounts that may exist in some OS installs and hidden backdoor programs.

What are the four steps to vulnerability assessment?

The four main steps for performing a vulnerability assessment are

Step 1: Initial assessment (Planning)

It is important to identify your assets and at least know the worth of the devices that you have on your network. Afterward, identify the risks and critical value device, including a security analysis vulnerability scanner.

Next, analyze the underlying facts to determine if the device is accessible to everyone in the facility or whether it is limited to the authorized users and administrators alone. You can use the information you to set things right and predict the following:

  1. The threshold of risk
  2. Suggesting the risk strategy
  3. The impact of risk
  4. The analysis of the business impact
  5. Hacker simulator
  6. Remediation or Mitigation for each device or service
  7. Practices and policies for risk mitigation in each device
  8. A honeypot

Step 2: Get to Know the Installed Systems and Scan

You must know the installed systems on your network, their capabilities, and who they are meant. You should also analyze services, processes, and the open ports of those devices. You can scan your device manually or automatically, or you can use threat intelligence, and vulnerability database to detect vulnerabilities and remove false positives.

Furthermore, you need to acquaint yourself with the certified drivers and software that should be installed on these devices and their unique fundamental configurations better. You can gather public data and vulnerabilities regarding the device program, vendor, version, and other significant details.

You should note that the initial vulnerability assessment might be overwhelming. Therefore, by becoming undergoing the Certified Ethical Hacker training, you will learn the basics of hacking and penetration testing and develop a strong fundamental understanding of vulnerability assessment.

Step 3: Vulnerability assessment and Risk Assessment

The purpose of this stage is to analyze the root cause of the vulnerabilities identified and prioritize such vulnerabilities. For instance, the root cause of such a vulnerability might be that you’re using an obsolete version of an open-source library, so you need to upgrade the library.

For the risk assessment, your certified ethical hacker or other specialized security analysts can allocate a severity score or rank each vulnerability based on some factors like the severity of an attack, the systems affected, the potential business function at risk, or the possible harm the vulnerability may trigger.

Step 4:

This is the last and most important stage of all because it aims to close all the security gaps. You must pay attention to the tiniest details and bring together extra value to the guidance phase.

This is usually a team effort by the security staff, IT professionals, development and operations team, or incidence response team who will ascertain the most effective response and remediation strategy that is mapped out in a report. This remediation may include:

  1. Introduction of new risk mitigation techniques.
  2. Identifying the potential gap between the results and the system baseline.
  3. Implementing measures to set right the deviations and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
  4. Recommendations are given based on the original assessment objectives.
  5. Conclusions are drawn based on vulnerability assessment and are organized in such a manner that assures the assessment of the findings.

About EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Program

EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program is the most comprehensive ethical hacking program on the globe that helps information security professionals grasp the fundamentals of Ethical Hacking. The C|EH credential certifies individuals in the exact network security discipline of Ethical Hacking from a vendor-neutral viewpoint. You will also learn about cloud computing in ethical hacking, honeypots in ethical hacking, and risk assessment techniques. For more information, visit our program page today!

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