How to Foil Cybervillains: A Capsule Summary of Cybersecurity Assessments
What are the leading types of cybersecurity assessments? And why do they matter?
As one professional put it, “Just because you haven’t been gotten yet doesn’t mean they’re still not out to get you.”
The fact is, even in the face of dramatically increased spending on information security worldwide, businesses like yours are more susceptible to data breaches and other threats than ever. Hackers and cybercriminals (who apparently never take a break) are at work around the clock and around the world deploying an increasingly sophisticated range of attacks.
Obviously, taking a solely reactive approach to cybersecurity will not cut it, nor will “hoping nothing happens.” Rather, reducing risk has to be an ongoing process incorporating a continuity of regular IT security assessments in defense of your company and your customers.
We’ve assembled the most effective preventive measures for your review:
Vulnerability scanning is a first-step technical assessment that thoroughly audits your network. The objective: to find all potential entry points that an attacker might seek to exploit. Going deeper, it determines the severity of each vulnerability identified to help information security teams prioritize remediation strategies. Vulnerability scanning presents you with a list of everything that’s wrong, which essentially becomes a roadmap for formulating a sustainable digital security strategy.
Penetration testing is NOT vulnerability scanning, although the two are sometimes confused. A penetration test is a more granular, goal-specific assessment. Penetration testing serves to validate configurations that you already believe to be secure. Complex and highly targeted, it is best suited to organizations that have a solid security framework in place.
We find a lack of consensus about precisely what risk assessments are and what purpose they serve. So let’s clear that up. High-level, a risk assessment is meant to determine a tolerable level of risk to your organization’s infrastructure by “weighing up” the probability and impact of a particular type of attack. Risk assessments go beyond IT to incorporate overall business risk and help you define an optimal security budget.
Traditionally, threat assessments have focused more on physical attacks than technological ones, but the lines have blurred significantly as organizations have become more IT-reliant. As the name implies, such an assessment determines the severity of a specific threat made to an organization. In a digital context, this encompasses the identification of data and systems compromised due to an attack. The goal - determine a threat’s authenticity and severity.
Focused more on people and processes, a security audit furnishes you with a thorough overview of your organization’s existing security systems and processes to determine areas requiring improvement. Typically, it incorporates employee training programs and compliance efforts – including validating conformance with standardized security practices like those outlined by NIST.
Threat modeling helps you visualize how various types of attacks could potentially be carried out against your organization. Beginning with a proposed threat agent and attack scenario, it is recommended when any major changes are made to a company’s operational infrastructure. Businesses typically (and gratefully) use threat modeling frequently when deploying new technologies.
Let’s talk hats. In cybersecurity parlance, you’ll often hear the terms white-hat, gray-hat and black-hat, which refer to the amount of internal information a tester has before carrying out a particular assessment. White-hat assessments provide full internal transparency. Black-hat assessments involve no inside knowledge, and gray-hats fall somewhere in between. A black-box assessment is carried out using a similar set of tools and processes that a cybercriminal would use, which potentially makes it one of the most effective ways to determine the resiliency of a particular system.
Charles IT helps solve your IT challenges – including cybersecurity - while you focus on growing your business. Call us today to start giving cybervillains something to worry about for a change.