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Vulnerability Assessments in Application Security

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Did you know that over 79% of developers surveyed in 2020 stated their applications had 20 or more vulnerabilities on average? As the digital world evolves, so to do its inhabitants. Cyber security attacks are higher than ever, and application security is quickly becoming more and more important with each passing day.

An important step that an organisation can take to begin resolving these vulnerabilities is through Vulnerability Assessment (VA). Utilising an approach like this can dramatically decrease the risk of an exploit affecting your company.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

Vulnerability Assessment is a process that identifies and categorises any known security vulnerabilities in an environment. It encompasses applications and codebases, but it also includes networks, hardware, and systems.

Vulnerability  Assessments don’t just search for bugs in software; they also expand to include design flaws and configuration issues. A complete vulnerability assessment typically covers every point of the IT landscape, from user workstations to database integrity.

Types of Vulnerability Assessments

There are multiple different types of vulnerability assessments, with the below being the most common assessments that cover an entire IT ecosystem:

  • Network Scans cover private and public networks, looking for potential security vulnerabilities. They also tend to include other resources that might be on the network, such as databases and cloud services.
  • Application Security checks for any vulnerabilities or security configurations that can potentially lead to exploits. This is usually conducted throughout the software development lifecycle with automated testing such as SAST and DAST.
  • Database Scans examine any databases or big data systems for configuration issues and potential weaknesses. They also search for rogue data that can arise in poorly-structured databases or insecure environments.
  • Host-Based Scans focus on the services, ports and any additional network hosts. These cover employee workstations, servers and occasionally overlap with network scans.

Why are Vulnerability Assessments Important?

According to Check Point Research, we saw 50% more attacks per week on corporate networks compared to the previous year. Therefore, maintaining IT security across an organisation’s IT landscape is becoming more critical every day.

Vulnerability Assessments are an essential part of any vulnerability management system, aiding organisations to get a better idea of the potential security issues across their IT landscape. Moreover, implementing a VA into your organisations’ security strategies can dramatically reduce the chance of critical vulnerabilities being exploited.

How to Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

Suppose you are still establishing a vulnerability management plan. In that case, you may need to implement a VA first to establish a baseline and form a plan of attack for the future. This is a typical example of how most vulnerability assessments go:

1. Asset Discovery

In the beginning, your organisation should establish exactly what should be covered. It’s common to forget how extensive a company’s digital infrastructure can be. Mobile devices, cloud services, and anything else on the network can be challenging to track down for a complete company-wide scan.

Instead, it’s better to formulate a plan and gather as much information as possible on the devices and systems in your network, then follow through based on what’s critical for business operations, such as:

  • Databases that may contain sensitive information.
  • Customer or client-facing applications and websites.
  • Any devices or networks connected to the Internet.

Once a routine has been established, it’s easier to go back and include less essential assets. Every company is unique and will prioritise different facets of its IT landscape. As severe issues become fixed over time, an organisation can reallocate budgets to less-critical assets.

2. Run Automated Scans and Testing

Now that your organisation has planned out what needs to be covered, they can assess these assets based on importance. Implementing methods like SAST and DAST into your software development lifecycle can help secure any applications, while penetration testing and vulnerability testing devices and systems.

With adequate testing, teams can begin to piece together information on what vulnerabilities exist within their IT landscape and prioritise issues that arise.

3. Analyse and Resolve

With a full vulnerability security scan complete, your team should have a full list of any discovered vulnerabilities. They can then resolve the most critical issues and prioritise them for future fixes. Utilising the Common Vulnerability Scoring System paired with OWASP’s Top 10 can let your organisation determine which vulnerabilities are highest priority.

After the scan results have been analysed and a plan has been set, teams can begin to work on these fixes and prepare for the next round of assessments. Most organisations recommend performing this step monthly, while others use a quarterly cycle.

Performing IT security assessments such as Vulnerability Assessments can provide an excellent foundation for a safer, secure digital world. Paired with shift-left security and proper guidance, any organisation can dramatically reduce the chance of their system being exploited.


 

WHO IS ULESKA?

Uleska helps security and development teams manage application security at scale by automating and orchestrating their preferred security tools within CI/CD.

With Uleska, teams can confidently start an AppSec program using open-source, commercial, and custom tools and then quickly change, add or scale tools as the technology and business needs evolve. Uleska also brings speed and scale when integrating into development tools, and reporting of metrics and risk.

By bringing security, DevOps and development teams together, we help reduce manual tasks so application security takes less time, cost and can scale, allowing teams to focus resources on the issues and metrics that matter.

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