An ounce of prevention through Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) is worth a pound of cure
We all have witnessed the notorious cyber-attacks like WannaCry and NotPetya/ExPetr.1 These high profile attacks have resulted in large disruptions, forcing businesses to halt their operations that may cost them billions of dollars.
According to Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks are targeted towards small businesses. Yet, only 14% are capable of defending against these malicious attacks.2
Obviously, a comprehensive security service will incur additional expenses. However, according to Hiscox, these cyber-attacks can cost your business on average $200,000 regardless of the scale of your business.2
Regardless of the size and scope, your business is greatly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It is not a matter of if, but it is a matter of when you will be the next target of the hackers’ “hit list”. When it happens, your business may suffer unfathomable consequences.
Stay Free from Cyber Attacks
Now knowing your vulnerability, how can you prevent such malicious cyber activities from occurring? The most ideal and unsurpassable method is through Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT). So, you might wonder what this long piece of jargon is about and how and how it is going to protect your business.
This blog article will provide you with some valuable information on:
1. A better comprehension on VAPT
2. How VAPT is executed
3. How VAPT will improve your IT security
What is Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing (VAPT)? 3
To put it in the simplest terms, Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) is a comprehensive and extensive testing process. Its goal is to identify security flaws in your network, application or program.
As the name implies, there are two separate components to perform VAPT. Both Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment execute two completely different types of security tests:
What is Vulnerability Assessment?
By pure definition, the word “Vulnerability” means being exposed to the possibility of getting attacked or harmed. Similarly, a Vulnerability Assessment will provide you with a list of possible security vulnerabilities in your company’s network.
Vulnerabilities can be the result of weak passwords, software errors, wrong software settings, computer virus, or other forms of malicious script or SQL injections.4
Vulnerability Assessment is performed using a non-intrusive approach. With the amalgamation of manual and automated scans, this will enable you to identify security flaws that may be exploited during a cyber-attack.
Here is an example to give you a better grasp on what is a vulnerability and an exploit: If an intruder could bypass the security guard at the front gate by entering the building through a backdoor – this is a vulnerability. If he/she actually get into the building – this is an exploit. It is important to understand the difference between these two words as we will be using it frequently in this blog.
What is Penetration Testing? 3
On the contrary, Penetration Testing employs an intrusive approach. Why would we say it is intrusive? Well, penetration testers would actually attempt to exploit identified vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access into your IT infrastructure. In a way, it emulates a “real attack” to your IT network.
Upon successfully performing a penetration test, this would allow you to determine how robust your organisation is when it comes to defending your IT network.
The following information will help you understand how these tests are performed for your business.
How are Vulnerability Assessments Performed? 5
As mentioned previously, manual and automated testing tools are utilised to scan your IT infrastructure and environment for known vulnerabilities. During the assessment process, it involves three periodic steps: Assessment, Identifying Exposures and Addressing Exposures. Let’s look at each phase briefly:
Assessment includes information gathering, defining the parameters and informing the appropriate personnel in your company on the procedure of the assessment.
2. Identify Exposures
This step includes reviewing the results from the previous assessment (the first step) and rectify the vulnerabilities by forming alternative actionable solutions for your network.
3. Address Exposures
At the final step, an investigation is carried out to determine if there are pregnable services in your IT infrastructure. If such vulnerabilities transpire and if the services are not critical to your business, they should be disabled.
Once these security weaknesses are reaffirmed from the investigation, your company will be informed of any lingering and unpatched vulnerabilities. These need to be rectified and patched by your company to mitigate the risk of a cyber-attack.
How are Penetration Tests Performed? 5
Now that you understand how Vulnerability Assessments are performed, the following 5 steps will briefly describe how a Penetration Test is carried out on your IT infrastructure:
1. Planning & Preparation
The very first step will involve developing clear objectives and scope of the penetration test. The details will include the time, duration and potential impact to your business operations during the penetration test.
2. Information Gathering and Analysis
At this step, a list of potential targets will be formed to be evaluated during the vulnerability assessment. These targets identified are established based on the accessible systems within your IT framework.
3. Vulnerability Detection
Similar to a Vulnerability Assessment, to identify vulnerabilities in your network, penetration testers will utilize manual and automated tools.
4. Penetration Attempt
After performing the third step (Vulnerability Detection), penetration testers would identify suitable targets to begin an intrusive attack to test the system’s defences. All these tests are performed at the within a particular time frame that you have agreed upon.
5. Reporting and Cleaning
Last but not least, a report will be summarised and submitted to you. They include: The Penetration Testing Process; Vulnerability Analysis; Commentary of Vulnerabilities Identified.
You could be worried that these exploitation attempts during tests could affect your IT systems. Do not fret.
To ensure that your accustomed business operations are not affected, the final step will require a complete mandatory clean-up of your systems during the penetration test.
We are sure on what we have shared above have overloaded you with information that could be difficult to digest. Not to worry, here is a quick summary about Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT):5
Vulnerability Assessment (VA)
Identify exploitable security vulnerabilities in your IT network.
Perform actual staged attacks and exploit all vulnerabilities in your IT network.
Type of Reports Provided:
A list of vulnerabilities that will require patches. The vulnerabilities are sequenced based on its criticality.
A specific and detailed list of information regarding the data compromised and vulnerabilities exploited.
Steps to Perform VA/PT:
Benefits of VAPT6
We do understand if your company were to invest its money and resources in cybersecurity solutions, there need to be a substantial benefit.
If the above information did not convince completely on why you should fund and conduct such IT security tests yet, consider the following three major benefits that VAPT will bring to your business:
1. Extensive application and data security:
Your business will have the confidence that your internal and external systems, software and applications will be meticulously validated for vulnerabilities.
In addition, VAPT assists your business in constructing more secure applications, improving data security and protecting your intellectual property.
2. Improved compliance standards:
You would have heard of PCI-DSS, ISO/IEC 27002 and other security standards that your company have to oblige due to certain regulations. If you are not in compliance with them, expensive fines could be incurred to your company.
To make this process easier for you, VAPT testing identifies if your IT infrastructure is in compliance with the industry standards and government regulations.
3. Security is built into the process during development:
VAPT provides an efficient and practical method to build secure software, application or program. The primary reason for this is that security is part of the development process.
In the event that your IT network gets compromised, it will require expensive fixes and patches after a vulnerability has been exploited by an attacker. – Wasting unnecessary time, money and resources.
4. Simplify your IT network security
While reading through this blog, you must be wondering, understandably so, how you can manage such complicated cybersecurity solutions. You can see how complex it is to perform VAPT itself.
Here is another issue. If you are always being bombarded with various IT security services and needing to purchase them from different vendors, this becomes a continuous hassle and cost. At Netpluz Asia, we simplify this for you with our managed Security Operations Centre (SOC).
As the popular saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. Our SOC can deliver industry-leading tools, technology and expertise to secure your valuable digital assets around the clock at a fraction of the cost. If you wish to find out more about our Managed Security Services, please click here.
Currently, most enterprises are well equipped with sophisticated and highly efficient security apparatus and software. Hackers are constantly looking for new vulnerabilities to hack into your systems. As a result, cybersecurity has become the most crucial component of any company’s infrastructure.
Vulnerability Assessment is one of the first steps in improving your IT security within your business. When it is executed together with Penetration Testing the two combined operations will create a strong deterrent to cyber-attacks that target your company. Identifying security loopholes and possible damages they can pose are important factors you need to pay attention to when protecting your network from malicious attacks.
This is why many companies have been taking care of their digital assets through VAPT testing. It is an obvious fact that IT security services would incur additional costs for your company, but it is less costly than having your network system partially or fully compromised.
If you wish to find out more information on how you can protect and defend your IT business network through Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT), you can visit us at Netpluz 24/7. Alternatively, you may book an appointment by submitting your information here for a free consultation.
Author: Shaun Nisal Peiris
1 Snow, John, et al. “Top 5 Most Notorious Cyberattacks.” Daily English Global Blogkasperskycom, https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/five-most-notorious-cyberattacks/24506/.
2 Scott Steinberg, special to CNBC.com. “Cyberattacks Now Cost Companies $200,000 on Average, Putting Many out of Business.” CNBC, CNBC, 13 Nov. 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/13/cyberattacks-cost-small-companies-200k-putting-many-out-of-business.html.
3 “Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing.” Veracode, 22 Oct. 2019, https://www.veracode.com/security/vulnerability-assessment-and-penetration-testing.
4 Infosec, Cyberops. “What Is VAPT and Why Would Your Organization Need VAPT?” Medium, Medium, 15 May 2019, https://medium.com/@cyberops/what-is-vapt-and-why-would-your-organization-need-vapt-444a684c8933.
5 “Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing.” Cyber Security Agency, https://www.csa.gov.sg/gosafeonline/go-safe-for-business/smes/vulnerability-assessment-and-penetration-testing.
6 Prole, Ken. “Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT).” Code Dx, 15 Feb. 2019, https://codedx.com/blog/the-perfect-union-vulnerability-assessment-and-penetration-testing-vapt/.
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