Vulnerability Scanning Explained

By Scott Dawson
February 1, 2024

What is a Vulnerability Scan?

A vulnerability scan is an automated computer network test designed to detect potential security flaws and weaknesses. It generates a report of any issues discovered during the process and provides references to research the vulnerabilities it uncovers. Depending on the scan type, the findings may also offer guidance or directions for fixing the problems.

A network vulnerability scan can be external, meaning it occurs outside the network to identify structural weaknesses. An internal scan takes place within the network to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities.

scanning server for vulnerabilities

Why is Vulnerability Scanning Necessary?

Vulnerability scanning is not just necessary, it is critical to the long-term success of your business. Vulnerability scanning is a proactive approach that allows you to respond to cyber-attacks quickly, reducing the negative effects of cyber-attacks like data breaches. Early detection allows you to identify flaws in your systems, networks, and applications before cybercriminals can access and exploit your systems.

Network vulnerability scanning is valuable because it provides a fast, high-level review of network issues that may pose cybersecurity threats. It also offers a more cost-effective solution than many other threat detection methods. The automated methodology enables users to run the scan at the desired frequency (typically weekly, monthly, or quarterly), limiting the need for manual intervention.

Through September of 2023, the ITRC tracked 2,116 data compromises. This represents a 17% increase from the 1,802 total compromises in 2022. That equates to 233.9 million people being affected by data breaches and leaks — compared to 425 million in all of 2022. (axios.com)

The consequences of a breach range from financial losses and significant reputational damage to the loss of sensitive customer data, prolonged operational downtime, and even legal action against the compromised organization.

Is your company prepared for a data breach or other potentially damaging cybersecurity issues? Vulnerability scanning is an essential process for identifying threats and safeguarding information.

What are the Different Types of Vulnerability Scanning?

There are various types of vulnerability scanning approaches:

Network Scanning:

This type involves scanning network devices such as routers, switches, and firewalls to identify vulnerabilities. It examines ports, services, and protocols to find potential entry points for attackers.

Host Scanning:

Here, the focus is on individual devices connected to the network. It scans servers, computers, and other devices for vulnerabilities in operating systems, applications, and configurations.

Web Application Scanning:

This type of scanning targets vulnerabilities specifically in web applications. It examines web servers, applications, and associated components for flaws like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other web-specific vulnerabilities.

Database Scanning:

Concentrates on databases and their configurations, aiming to find weaknesses in database servers, access controls, and sensitive data storage.

vulnerability scanning consulting

Wireless Network Scanning:

It focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in wireless networks, including Wi-Fi networks, access points, and associated security protocols.

Cloud Infrastructure Scanning:

With the rise of cloud computing, this type of scanning involves assessing vulnerabilities in cloud-based infrastructure, services, and configurations.

Continuous Scanning:

This approach involves regularly scheduled scans or real-time monitoring to detect vulnerabilities as soon as they appear, ensuring ongoing security.

Authenticated Scanning:

This type involves using credentials or access rights to scan systems or applications from an insider’s perspective. It helps identify vulnerabilities accessible to authenticated users.

Unauthenticated Scanning:

This type does not require any credentials or access rights, simulating an external attacker’s perspective. It’s useful for identifying vulnerabilities visible to potential attackers from outside the network.

Each type of vulnerability scanning has its advantages and limitations. Organizations often use a combination of these methods to comprehensively assess and manage their security posture, aiming to mitigate potential risks and protect their systems from cyber threats.

Cybersecurity consultant doing scan

Why Is Vulnerability Scanning Important for Small Businesses?

If you own a small business, you might believe your company is safe from cybersecurity threats and attacks. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Cybercriminals don’t limit their activities to Fortune 500 businesses and other massive organizations. Hackers prefer small businesses.

According to the 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report released by Verizon, approximately 43% of cyberattacks target smaller businesses, particularly in industries such as manufacturing, finance, insurance, healthcare, and legal.

Cybercriminals target small businesses for several reasons. They recognize that many of these organizations don’t take cybersecurity seriously due to their perceived lack of vulnerability. Some criminals also view these companies as a gateway to the more prominent organizations they serve, potentially opening the door to more lucrative data breach opportunities. Cybercriminals know that small companies are especially vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

What are Ransomware Attacks?

Ransomware is a form of malware that enables perpetrators to seize control of the network by encrypting data. Businesses must pay a specified sum to receive an encryption key to unlock the information. Smaller companies often have limited options when responding to ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals understand that many small businesses don’t have the resources to offset the effects of a massive data loss and often have no choice but to pay the ransom.

ransomware attack

Expert Consulting

Need help applying cybersecurity practices to your business? Our solutions include hands-on consulting support from industry experts. We don’t leave you to figure out compliance on your own. We walk you through every step of the process.

Expert Consulting

Our Standards

Core Business Solutions helps small businesses achieve compliance with a number of cybersecurity standards, including:

ISO 27001

Information Security Management Systems

NIST/CMMC

Cybersecurity for DoD

ISO 20000-1

Service Management Systems

ISO 27001

Information Security Management Systems

NIST/CMMC

Cybersecurity for DoD

ISO 20000-1

Service Management Systems

CMMI

Capability Maturity Model

ISO 27001

NIST/CMMC

ISO 20000-1

CMMI

Our Solutions

We offer this simple, effective solution to help small businesses meet their cybersecurity needs:

CORE Vault

CORE Vault™

Everything you need for NIST/CMMC in one cloud-based solution 

CORE Vault comes ready-made for compliance with the DoD contracting requirements of DFARS, NIST SP 800-171, and CMMC 2.0.  With CORE Vault™, you can separate government data from your network and access it through a secure, cloud-based environment managed by our cyber experts.  CORE Vault™ also includes the support needed to reach full compliance with the non-technical cybersecurity requirements, such as your system security plan and required policies. 

The CORE Security Suite

Our online platform gives you all the tools you need for ongoing cybersecurity, including:

  • Document and record control
  • User-friendly project dashboards
  • Incident management
  • Security change logs
  • Risk register
  • Asset management

We also provide standard-specific tools depending on your security requirements. For companies who require NIST/CMMC, we provide a simple SSP tool, an automated SPRS score calculator, and customizable policy templates crafted by our own CMMC experts.

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