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Why Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing are Important for Security Compliance

A common theme after a data breach happens is that the company “never saw it coming.” They thought their security systems were strong, but they never did any in depth testing to ensure there were no undiscovered vulnerabilities.

Cybercrime generated about $1.5 trillion for the perpetrators in 2018, and in the first half of 2019, it caused the exposure of at least 4.1 billion records through data breaches. Companies that perform their full due diligence when it comes to evaluation their servers, workstations, and networks are the ones that are less likely to become their next victim.

For businesses that need to comply with HIPAA, FINRA, SOX, or PCI, the costs of a data breach can be higher than other businesses due to compliance penalties being levied on top of the costs of downtime, lost business, and data recovery after a breach.

One of the best ways to ensure compliance and that your data security defenses are up to par is through vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

These two tests both fall under the umbrella of vulnerability testing and offer two distinct methods to ensure you’re not vulnerable when it comes to the next phishing email, automated bot attack, or ransomware injection.

What are Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing?

Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing go hand-in-hand when it comes to advanced methods of safeguarding your network, servers, and workstations against cyberthreats.

Each has a distinct purpose and can mean the difference between spotting and addressing a vulnerability before it’s exploited or suffering a data breach out of the blue.

We’ll go through each below and explain their purpose and how they strengthen your overall cybersecurity posture.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

A vulnerability assessment identifies any security vulnerabilities in an environment through an in-depth evaluation. It can alert you to weaknesses that can result in a data breach and offer recommendations for mitigation procedures you can employ to either lessen or eliminate the risks.

A vulnerability assessment is also sometimes called a vulnerability scan and it can be done on servers, computer workstations, and entire networks. Once it identifies potential risks, the report it creates is typically organized by priority so you know which ones should be addressed first.

There are a few different types of vulnerability assessments that can be done, which include:

  • Network-based assessments: Used to identify potential security flaws in a network and detect vulnerable systems on either wired or wireless networks.
  • Host-based assessments: This is a scan that looks for vulnerabilities in servers, workstations, and other network hosts. It typically offers greater visibility into a device’s configuration settings and patch history.
  • Application assessment: These are used to test websites to find known software vulnerabilities and flawed configurations.
  • Database assessment: Helps prevent malicious attacks like SQL injections by looking for weak spots in database security.
  • Wireless network assessment: Looks for rogue access points in a Wi-Fi network and can validate that it’s configured securely.

What is Penetration Testing?

A penetration test is another way to expose network, device, and server vulnerabilities, and it does it by simulating an attack.

In a penetration test, tools are used to attempt to exploit critical systems and gain access to sensitive data. Basically, the tester is simulating what a hacker would do in order to find weak spots in your security before they can.

There are two main types of penetration tests:

  • Internal: This type of penetration test assumes that the hacker would have internal network access, giving them more ability to access sensitive information. It’s helpful in safeguarding against potential rogue employee or a hacker that’s breached an admin password.
  • External: An external penetration test tries to breach vulnerabilities from outside your network that could result in data destruction, theft of sensitive files, or business operation disruption.

Through the simulated attacks, a company can gain valuable insight into areas of weakness to address and just how vulnerable their data might be if a high-level password were compromised.

Benefits of Vulnerability Testing

You don’t have to be a large enterprise corporation to benefit from penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. These types of tests performed regularly can also help small and medium sized businesses strengthen their defenses.

The benefits of these two types of vulnerability testing include:

Gain Better Insight into Your IT Security

You gain better visibility into the types of vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit with penetration testing and a vulnerability assessment. This allows you to stay a step ahead and address security weaknesses before they’re exploited.

Meet Compliance Requirements

Vulnerability testing can provide reporting that helps you meet any monitoring requirements set forth by data privacy regulations, like HIPAA, SOX, or PCI. This type of testing shows that you’re doing your due diligence to ensure your network, servers, and workstations are as secure as possible.

Reduce Chance of Costs from Breaches/Downtime

Data breaches are costly, along with the associated downtime that comes in the aftermath. The average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million, a cost not many companies can easily absorb. Vulnerability testing is a cost-effective investment against an expensive breach.

Enhances Your Customer Trust/Reputation

When you go above and beyond what your competitor may be doing to safeguard client data, that can be used to boost your reputation as a partner that takes data security seriously and garner more client trust.

Schedule Your Vulnerability Testing Today!

Unbound Digital can help you with vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to ensure your network, workstations, and servers aren’t at risk of a breach with any unchecked vulnerabilities.

Contact us today to schedule this advanced testing to ensure you’re fully protected. Call us at 423-335-2461 or reach out online.

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