Do You Need An IT Vulnerability Assessment? Will It Help Your Security?
Editor's note: This article was originally posted in 2021. It has been updated to include the latest information.
In the past several years, most businesses leaders have become more sensitive and very concerned regarding IT security breaches. And, the landscape for hackers has changed. They no longer focus solely on large, multinational companies.
While larger companies have dedicated a large amount of time and money to enhancing their security protocols, small and medium-sized businesses often don't have the same resources. As a result, hackers have realized that these organization are softer targets and often possess equally valuable information and data.
No matter the size of the organization, the common concerns for cyber events include loss of data and personal identifiable information (PII), loss of revenue, and damage to an organization’s reputation.
As manager, engineering services at Kelser, I advise clients on ways to address security issues regularly. One of the tools that can help with evaluating an organization's security profile is a vulnerability assessment.
In this article, I'll explain what a comprehensive vulnerability assessment is, the two main types, and how an assessment can help enhance your organization's security.
What Is A Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment evaluates the security of your organization's IT infrastructure at a specific point in time. It consists of a vulnerability scan, a report of analyzed scan results, and a plan of action to remediate identified security gaps.
What Are The Two Types Of Vulnerability Assessments?
There are two types of vulnerability assessments:
1. Internal Vulnerability Assessments
An internal vulnerability assessment is done to assess if any changes inside of the network have created a cyber threat to your organization.
For example, one of the most common ways a vulnerability is created within your organization is when a computer is added to your network.
Like other devices, if the computer is not secured, it can be accessed externally, and you lose control over the device and the data it is storing.
2. External Vulnerability Assessments
An external vulnerability scan is conducted to determine potential opportunities for attackers to break into your network from the outside.
The external vulnerability assessment helps identify your risk of exposure from the internet and known vulnerabilities in hardware or software.
How Often Should Internal And External Vulnerability Assessments Be Conducted?
A quick internet search will show that recommendations for internal and external vulnerability assessments range from once per month to once per year.
The size and complexity of your network should dictate the frequency. More complex networks that experience frequent changes should be assessed more often than those that are simple and remain stagnant.
Best practice is to conduct at least one external and internal vulnerability assessment per year.
Do You Need A Vulnerability Assessment?
Security breaches, IT security risks, and hacking attempts continue to increase exponentially. And the threats are always evolving.
If it has been several years since your last internal and external assessments, it is time.
Years are like lifetimes in cybersecurity. The world is very different than it was even six months ago, as is the technology you are using.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Do A Vulnerability Assessment?
Maybe your organization has been lucky so far and hasn't been breached. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. In today's day and age, security breaches on small and medium-sized businesses are a matter of when; not if.
How Much Could An IT Security Breach Cost?
If you find yourself thinking about the cost or time required to conduct these assessments, I encourage you to consider the cost and time that would be required if your infrastructure was breached.
In the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most recent report on cyber crime statistics (for the year 2021), the organization's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported a record number of complaints from the American public: 847,376, a 7% increase from 2020, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion.
And, a December 2022 news item on CNBC noted that the FBI continues to be concerned about cyber attacks on small businesses.
Still not convinced? According to IBM’s most recent Cost of a Data Breach Report (for 2022), for the 12th year in a row, the United States holds the title for the highest cost of a data breach at $9.44 million. (In contrast, the global average total cost of a data breach is $4.35 million.)
Where Do You Go From Here?
While no one tool will keep your business and data completely safe from threats, vulnerability assessments help your organization identify and understand the security risks facing your organization.
Prepared with the information in this article, you can begin addressing the security gaps to bolster your organization's overall security profile.
Vulnerability assessments are a valuable tool you can use to put in place the layers of security your organization needs.
You may have an internal IT team with the skills and resources to handle your vulnerability assessments or you may decide to work with an external IT support provider. Make sure your IT team conducts the assessments, reviews the findings, and prioritizes issues that are found so you can address them in a systematic way.
It's important to take action to keep your organization safe and to continually evaluate the effectiveness of your security solutions.
If you decide to work with an outside IT support provider, we encourage you to check out several options to find one that is a good fit for your organization. In fact, we take this advice so seriously that we've even done some of the legwork for you.
Check out this article that compares our managed IT services offering to that of Charles IT, a local competitor. Why do we publish articles that talk about our competitors? As educated consumers ourselves, we know the first thing we do when making an important purchase is to use the internet to compare our options.
We just saved you a step by writing an article that compares the publicly available information about both companies from our websites. Based on this information and your own research you can make the best IT decision for your organization.
We believe in honesty and transparency and publishing articles that provide business leaders like you with the information you need to find the IT provider that is the best fit for you.
Kelser offers a comprehensive suite of managed IT support services which includes features like managed network, managed anti-malware, automated patching, automated maintenance, automated monitoring, and unlimited technical support. But, honestly, we know managed IT isn't the right solution for every organization.
If you are considering managed IT support and want to learn more, read this article: What Is Managed IT? What's Included? What Does It Cost?
Wondering if your business has all the tools you need to keep your data protected? Not sure? Click the button below and download the free cybersecurity eBook to learn 10 steps you can take today to put in place all of the tools you need to help secure your data.