By now, most business leaders appreciate the importance of building a strong and adaptable information security strategy. But given the rapidly increasing complexity of today’s computing infrastructures and the rising tide of cyberthreats, doing so is anything but easy. However, all too often is information security considered a cost center, rather than an investment in growth. Instead of viewing IT security budget planning as a necessary evil, business leaders should think about IT budgeting practices that deliver value. Security, including vulnerability scanning, is one of those things that can add value.
What is vulnerability scanning?
Managing security vulnerabilities is a core responsibility for any IT team, whether it’s internal or outsourced to a managed security services provider (MSSP). Critical vulnerabilities in your network can become a catalyst for serious data breaches and other cyberattacks, potentially crippling your business and its reputation. Vulnerability scanning takes a proactive approach by identifying potential attack points that hackers might exploit, thereby giving you the chance to patch them before they become a serious issue. A vulnerability scan takes a comprehensive look at your network from the outside to find and isolate any possible security gaps.
#1. Identify points of failure before cybercriminals do
Many businesses have a highly complex computing infrastructure consisting of in-house and cloud-hosted assets, with everything spread across lots of different systems. On top of that is the rapidly rising number of endpoints, such as laptops and smartphones, which employees use every day to access the resources they need to perform their jobs. Some of these devices might be owned by the business, while others may belong to employees themselves. Having such a complex environment results in many potential single points of failure, which must be locked down before it’s too late.
#2. Reduce the impact of false positives early on
There’s no such thing as a perfect cybersecurity solution. Every scan can detect false positives by failing to authenticate correctly or misidentifying malicious code and unfamiliar protocols. A vulnerability scan may yield false positives as well, but being a proactive measure, it gives you a chance to isolate them quickly, so they don’t cause disruption later on. By contrast, if reactive security measures kick in later to block a legitimate communication, it can leave employees unable to do their jobs.
#3. Meet your data protection policies and obligations
Although vulnerability scanning isn’t the same thing as a compliance check, it can help isolate any issues with your infrastructure that may constitute a breach of regulatory compliance. For example, if the scan finds an inadequately protected system that houses payment information, you may be in breach of a regulation. A vulnerability scan will give you the chance to remediate before you risk breaking the law. Moreover, many vulnerability scanning services can also be tailored to ensure your internal company policies, as well as national compliance directives, are being met.
#4. Innovate quickly without adding operational risk
One of the core tenets of good cybersecurity hygiene is reducing complexity. However, adding new systems and devices actually increases complexity. Although that might make innovation go hand-in-hand with increasing risk, it doesn’t have to be this way. Vulnerability scanning will help prepare your infrastructure for future expansion and innovation by patching any security gaps. For example, if a particular system or protocol is found to be vulnerable, the last thing you want to do is replicate it and end up adding more points of failure. A scan helps expose the risks early on, so you can adapt and expand your infrastructure without adding risk.
#5. Maintain full visibility into your computing assets
You can’t protect what you don’t know. A lack of visibility over computing assets is a common problem given the huge number of apps, devices, and connections in use in the typical office environment today. The very first stage of vulnerability scanning is building an inventory of all your hardware and software assets. This includes things like network devices, endpoints like smartphones and laptops, servers, cloud-hosted virtual machines, operating systems, and all other data-bearing assets. This gives administrators a complete line of sight into where their data lives, which user accounts have access to it, and which controls are in place to protect it. Once it has built up a complete inventory, the vulnerability scanner will search for gaps in your security and evaluate the risks of each issue it finds through correlation with a threat database.
Charles IT provides external vulnerability scanning to help you proactively guard data breaches and improve cybersecurity efficiency. Contact us today to schedule your first assessment.