Every business has different needs, but they also have many things in common. Today, almost all businesses have an IT infrastructure once they reach a certain size. This commonality results in businesses having similar needs.
One such shared need is ensuring that you maintain a secure business network infrastructure.
There are many things an organization can do to keep its network secure, ranging from patch management to firewalls. However, one tactic that is often overlooked is performing a periodic vulnerability assessment.
Regular vulnerability assessments are essential because threats to your network security continually change and evolve, and your security should be able to match this. A user’s PC or network access point might be secure today, but it could become completely vulnerable tomorrow simply because some malicious attacker might have discovered a previously unknown attack vector.
A vulnerability assessment doesn’t come without its own associated costs. You need to strike a balance between security and inconvenience for your end users. Also, it is important that your vulnerability assessments are conducted correctly, as an error could result in the very problems that you are trying to avoid.
With that in mind, we have prepared some tips to ensure efficiency in your vulnerability assessments, helping you to keep your business network secure.
1) Select a proper schedule for your vulnerability assessment:
Vulnerability assessments cover many different tasks. Machines are scanned for missing software patches and they ensure software is correctly configured and that no aspect of your network has changed. You do not want to see that new users have been created, new shares opened or even new PCs or hardware connected to your network without your knowledge.
However, all these checks affect your network performance, making it essential that they are run at times when they least impact productivity. At the same time, they should not be run so infrequently that they leave a large window of opportunity for any attacker to exploit.
Ideally your vulnerability assessments should be run daily and outside of normal business hours. This schedule should be carefully tailored to meet your specific business needs.
2) Do your testing before implementing any changes:
A vulnerability assessment is designed to find deficiencies in your network, be they missing patches or an
incorrect configuration. When this occurs your vulnerability assessment software will offer you a number of options to remedy the situation, or provide you with information on how you might tackle the vulnerability that has been found.
It is important to understand that every network is different. Every computer has different software installed, and is comprised of different hardware. Software patches will alter the core of the software you run and this can lead to potential problems. Likewise, any changes you make to secure your network can also result in issues due to the unique nature of your system.
This is why it is always recommended to have test environments that mirror your live network as much as possible. Any changes can be first implemented on this test network before live deployment. In this way you can prevent yourself from implementing changes that are actually to the detriment of your network operation.
3) Disaster recovery plans are a must:
A bad practice that is often seen in vulnerability assessments and remediation plans is to only think about how we are going to solve an issue only once we actually come face-to-face with the problem itself.
By doing this you can actually cause unnecessary down time as you grapple with unexpected scenarios. A better way to deal with such undesirable events is to plan ahead and create disaster recovery plans for the most common eventualities. This should include a failed patch deployment that results in system instability, measures to take when there is a detected intrusion, as well as the course of action to follow when you encounter a virus infection.
Vulnerability assessment is an important component in maintaining business network security. However, like so many other tasks, it needs to be approached in the right manner. Utilizing the three simple tips above can save you a lot of time in the future and ensure you and your network steer clear of some insidious pitfalls.
This guest post was provided by Emmanuel Carabott on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for to address their network security, content security and messaging need. Learn more on what to look out for when choosing a vulnerability scanner:
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