What is a Network Vulnerability Assessment?

Published December 16, 2019 • 2 min read

A network vulnerability assessment is the process of reviewing and analyzing an organization’s network infrastructure for potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities and network security loopholes. 

A network vulnerability assessment enables network security administrators or network administrators determine the strength of a company’s network security. The main objective of a network vulnerability assessment is to uncover any vulnerabilities that can compromise the overall operations, cybersecurity, and privacy of a computer network.

A network vulnerability assessment gives a company a better understanding of its network environment and provides data on any cybersecurity flaws. A company’s information security teams can use the results of a network vulnerability assessment to improve its cybersecurity threat mitigation and prevention processes.

The main objective of a network vulnerability assessment is to decrease the chances that cybercriminals will discover the cybersecurity weaknesses in the network and exploit them to cause a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack or steal sensitive corporate data, for example.

A network vulnerability assessment analyzes a variety of network issues, and then identifies the cybersecurity weaknesses that have to be resolved. A network vulnerability assessment can detect severe cybersecurity vulnerabilities, including a firewall that’s not correctly configured and a vulnerable web server.

In addition, a network vulnerability assessment can ascertain whether an organization is complying with the cybersecurity standards of various governmental and industry regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Typically, a network vulnerability assessment is followed by penetration testing. During penetration testing, an individual manually simulates a cyberattack against an organization’s network, system, or web application to check for cybersecurity vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit. Penetration testing can also be automated with software. 

A network vulnerability assessment is generally conducted via automated network vulnerability scanning tools, but it also includes the technical assessments of a company’s security staff. 

Once the network cybersecurity vulnerability scans and penetration testing are completed, the assessment offers an action plan to mitigate and fix the identified cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

With the automated network vulnerability assessments, there’s a possibility that the findings may include “false positive” results. When certain conditions exist, scanning tools report network cybersecurity vulnerabilities, but in certain situations and configurations, those conditions don’t really pose network cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As such, the false positive classification is warranted.

Unlike a network vulnerability assessment, which is a one-time project, a comprehensive network vulnerability management program doesn’t have a definite start and end date. Rather, it is a continuous information cybersecurity risk process that aims to manage a company’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities long-term. 

A network vulnerability management process consists of ongoing cybersecurity vulnerability assessments, meaning that as soon as one assessment is concluded, it is repeated immediately. The goal is to identify what has changed since the last network vulnerability assessment.

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