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Vulnerability Assessment (VA)

Vulnerability Assessment tests are a series of tests performed on a system to identify the vulnerability of the system. This is a Security Assessment conducted to understand the vulnerabilities and by this process the vulnerabilities are identified and exposed to the security experts who in turn are able to quantify and prioritise such vulnerabilities.

Basically a vulnerability of a system refers to the inability of the system to withstand a hostile threat to its environment and the effects that may be caused by this hostile attack.

Vulnerability assessment has many things in common with risk assessment. Wiki states that assessments are typically performed according to the following steps:

  • Cataloguing assets and capabilities (resources) in a system.
  • Assigning quantifiable value (or at least rank order) and importance to those resources
  • Identifying the vulnerabilities or potential threats to each resource
  • Mitigating or eliminating the most serious vulnerabilities for the most valuable resources

Penetration Test (PT)

Penetration Tests are different from VA, in that they simulate an actual attack on a computer system or network as it would have been from an external or internal threat. By this method we are able to evaluate the computer or network's security levels based on the defined objective of the test. Thus a penetration test can help determine whether a system is vulnerable to attack, if the defences were sufficient and which defences (if any) were defeated in the penetration test.

Why VA-PT is required?

As new technologies emerge and change the IT scenarios, newer security challenges are given to be faced by corporates. Thus the business that do transaction over the internet are at high risk, though other companies are also at risk when being exposed to external networks. Thus many unforeseen traps with multiple vulnerabilities and numerous threats do manifest themselves in the least expected time and at the least expected place. Thus in order to take-up such challenges and address then, a robust system with appropriate security policies, adequate controls, periodic review and monitoring are to be in place to protect the organisation's information assets. Hence it is highly recommended to carry out an indepth Network Assessment comprising of VA-PT audits in a periodic manner to ensure compliance to controls established and the policies set in the organisation and further to evaluate whether they are adequate to address all the threats.

What Do We Gain by VA-PT?

  • In-depth testing of IT infrastructure leads to understanding of the effectiveness of security systems in place
  • Testing the ability of network defenders to successfully detect and respond to the attacks
  • Enables planned investment to secure the IT setup resulting in better ROI
  • Helps to identify the security gaps and secure them
  • Focus and prioritise high-risk and threats rather than false encounters
  • Optional Software Assessment to understand the vulnerabilities within
  • Process and policy in place helps to run regular and periodic tests
  • Assessing the magnitude of potential business and operational impacts of successful attacks