Vulnerability Scanning + Penetration Testing = Best Practice

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To help businesses uncover and fix the vulnerabilities and misconfigurations affecting their systems, there is an abundance of solutions available. And good reason for it. Today, global cybercrime costs are expected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

But beware, they may not give you a full and continuous view of your weaknesses if used in isolation. With huge financial gains to be had from each successful breach, hackers do not rest in their hunt for flaws and use a wide range of tools and scanners to help them in their search. Beating these criminals means staying one step ahead and using the most comprehensive and responsive vulnerability detection support you can.

We’ll go through each solution and explain how you can maintain your vigilance. Of course, vulnerability management is just one step businesses must take to prevent a breach; there’s also proper asset management, employee training, and incident response to consider, but this article will cover scanning and penetration testing specifically.

Vulnerability scanning

A vulnerability scanner checks your systems for security flaws that can be used to steal data or sensitive information or generally cause disruption to your business. Depending on your needs, you can deploy scanners to keep an eye on any area of your system from your external or internal infrastructure to your web apps and endpoints, as well as any authenticated or unauthenticated areas of your website.

Vulnerability scans can only ever report on what they find at the moment. If you’re running them infrequently, then you could easily miss new vulnerabilities that have been introduced in between scans. This is why it’s important to ensure you have you need Vulnerability Management Program to Prioritize and fix any Security Issues.

Vulnerability Management is the process of identifying, evaluating, treating, and reporting on security vulnerabilities in systems and the software that runs on them. This, implemented alongside with other security tactics, is vital for organizations to prioritize possible threats and minimizing their “attack surface.”

Additionally, testing should be performed on regular basis and at least Quarterly for Vulnerability Scanning, Documented and Most of all Fixed! If you take Credit Cards you are required to Scan Quarterly internally and externally.

There are other challenges with vulnerability testing. The challenges could be false positive, lack of credentials, limited testing knowledge and so on. Additionally, Vulnerability scanners find it hard to handle bespoke/custom services or applications because they haven’t seen them before and therefore cannot extract meaningful results. As a result, they can often produce false positives, which in turn can lead to wasted time and resources trying to fix non-existent issues. Vulnerability Testing only is a sure sign of weak Security Program.

To avoid this, you need a solution that considers your specific environment i.e., the types of systems you have deployed, the configuration of these systems, the data stored within them, and the mitigating controls you have in place. Then, it needs to use this information to ensure it only presents you with issues that have a tangible impact on your security.

How can you make that possible? By adding human element of course. The Penetration Tester. While a scan will find a vulnerability and report it, it won’t carry out a full “impact review” to show what the actual risk is of someone successfully exploiting the vulnerability. Penetration Tester, however, will.

Penetration tests

A penetration test (also known as a “Pen Test”) is a simulated cyber-attack carried out by ethical hackers on your systems to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious attackers. Penetration Tests take the next step and confirm your worst suspicions or maybe surprise you that there was nothing to worry about.  Penetration incorporates Vulnerability Testing in the process and confirms existence of the exploit.

The Five Phases of Penetration Testing

There are five penetration testing stages: reconnaissance, scanning, vulnerability assessment, exploitation, and reporting. Let’s take a closer look at each of these phases. Typically, a Penetration Test Phases should look something like this.

Reconnaissance

The first phase of penetration testing is reconnaissance. In this phase, the tester gathers as much information about the target system as possible. This includes information about the network topology, operating systems and applications, user accounts, and other relevant information. The goal is to gather as much data as possible so that the tester can plan an effective attack strategy. Pretty much thank you Google.

Scanning

Once all the relevant data has been gathered in the reconnaissance phase, it’s time to move on to scanning. In this phase, the tester uses various tools to identify open ports and check network traffic on the target system. Since open ports are potential entry points for attackers, the goal of this phase is to find as many as possible so that the tester can take advantage of them in the next phase. We use Open-Source Tools such as NMAP, DNSMap and other Scanning Tools.

Vulnerability Assessment

The third phase of the penetration testing process is vulnerability assessment. The tester scans all the data gathered in the reconnaissance and scanning phases to identify potential vulnerabilities and determine whether they can be exploited. We utilize Tenable Nessus and Open Source Tools for the Vulnerability Assessment.

Exploitation

Once a vulnerability has been identified, it’s time for exploitation. The tester attempts to exploit the vulnerability and access the target system. This is typically done using a tool like Metasploit to simulate real-world attacks. Topgallant uses Metasploit and other real-world repositories for real-time hacks. 

Reporting

Once the exploitation phase is complete, the tester prepares a report documenting all of the penetration tester’s findings. This report can be used to fix any vulnerabilities found in the system and improve the organization’s security posture. Topgallant has some of the best reporting available.

In order to gain the most comprehensive picture of your security posture, you need to combine automated vulnerability scanning and human-led penetration testing. This is 100 Percent our preferred testing methodology.

 

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