By utilizing vulnerability scanning tools, the cybersecurity team can easily identify security risks and attack vectors across your organization’s network, systems, hardware, and software.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, the IT security team can patch them, close ports, reconfigure systems, etc.
Vulnerability scanning is an essential step in the vulnerability management lifecycle, which allows business executives to take a proactive approach and maintain a strong security for business systems, data, employees, and customers.
Unfortunately, data breaches are often the result of unpatched vulnerabilities, so identifying and eliminating these security gaps in time can save your organization from the hassle of slowly recovering from a cybersecurity incident.
Types of Vulnerability Scans
There are complex vulnerability scanning tools able to perform multiple types of scans across several operating systems such as Unix, Linux, Windows, and scanning tools that serve certain niches.
Based on use case, here are some ways that scans may be categorized:
Internal Vulnerability Scans
These scans focus on your corporate network. They can identify risks that otherwise will leave you vulnerable if a hacker or piece of malware penetrates your network.
External Vulnerability Scans
These scans target your websites, ports, applications accessible to customers or other external users who can reach your IT ecosystem utilizing the Internet.
These are specialized scans available for different technology deployments, such as IoT devices, mobile devices, websites, cloud, etc.
Intrusive Vs. Non-Intrusive Scans
Non-intrusive scans identify vulnerabilities and provide reports that your IT security team can use to remediate the problems found.
On the other hand, intrusive scans will attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities they found. This can highlight the impact of a vulnerability and may also disrupt your operational systems and processes.
Credentialed Scans vs. Non-Credentialed Scans
Also known as authenticated and non-authenticated scans, these are increasingly popular categories of vulnerability scanning.
Credentialed scans require logging in with a set of credentials. These scans can discover many vulnerabilities that non-credentialed scans can’t.
On the other hand, non-authenticated scans do not require access to the systems they are scanning. While they can provide valuable insights, non-credentialed scans offer an incomplete picture over the security state of your systems.
Vulnerability Scanning Challenges
Scanning still needs human input or further integration to deliver the expected results.
Although the scanning process itself is automated, a cybersecurity professional must review the results, remediate the problems, eliminate, or mitigate the risks, etc.
Depending on the complexity of the credentialed scan, it may require access to many connected systems.
Therefore, automating the integration of these credentials with the scanner is critical.
A scan is a moment in time.
Because your systems are likely changing all the time, you should run vulnerability scans on a regular basis, as your IT ecosystem evolves.
A scan will only search for known vulnerabilities.
A scanning tool is only as good as its database of signatures and vulnerability information. So, keeping it updated is paramount.
Scanning Tool Capabilities
When analyzing the suitability of a vulnerability scanning tool for your organization, you should consider the following aspects:
The vulnerability scanner should be able to integrate with a patch management solution, a bug tracking system, and other similar tools.
Your vulnerability scanner database should be regularly updated to include emerging vulnerabilities.
The scanner should provide you with detailed reports allowing your IT security team to remediate the problems as quickly as possible.
Quality and quantity of vulnerabilities
Your scanning tool should identify all vulnerabilities in a timely manner, while minimizing false positives and providing valuable information on flaws, threats, risks, and remediation options.