Vulnerability Scanning is what the name implies, scanning for vulnerabilities on your organization’s network. It could be an external network scan, as in what the world could see online of your organization; Or it could be an internal network scan, of devices that are only visible to the organization.
The scanner scans your internal or external network, checks for open ports, protocols, and software running. It will attempt to identify the versions of the software and protocols running, and then checks if there are any known vulnerabilities or exploits related to them. If there is a known exploit with a version of a software you may be utilizing, it is flagged as a vulnerability finding.
Vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered by security researchers, offensive security developers, security engineers, and others. These vulnerabilities are reported to the product manufacturers and vendors, so they can patch and mitigate the vulnerabilities discovered, and provide the security updates to their clients. If these security updates are not being implemented on the organization, it can be vulnerable to being compromised.
Vulnerability Scanning is the most basic level of offensive testing that can be performed for an organization. Its quick and simple, and an affordable solution for organizations who do not have the budget, times or the means necessary to conduct a more advanced Penetration Testing engagement.
Being proactive and performing regular vulnerability scanning can provide the organization with many benefits:
- Helps with Asset Management, by detecting what is live on the network
- Routinely scans can provide assistance on what has been addressed from previous findings
- Can help with prioritizing the vulnerabilities and give insight to which are the most critical to fix
- By providing insight to live devices, comparing scans can provide insight of new devices on the network
- Routinely scans are a must, to ensure proper patch management and keeping the software up to date
Vulnerability scanning is the first proactive step to take, in order to achieve a more robust security posture on the network. It is strongly advised to implement a routinely scan schedule, to achieve snapshots of the security posture, and be able to improve from the previous scan results.