Everyone is familiar with home burglaries. Criminals case a house looking for easy access through open windows, unlocked doors, open garages, and the like. Hackers take the same approach electronically and look for network vulnerabilities that grant them access to the data they want. And small to mid-size businesses are an ideal target, since they have fewer resources to dedicate to security efforts than larger companies.
When you hire a home security expert, they come out and check every window, door and entry point in and around your house… usually from the outside and then the inside. Their job is to make sure that every possible way to gain entry is secure and that weak points are eliminated.
Vulnerability scanning is very similar. The scan looks for access points on your network from both inside and outside. It identifies weak spots that you can then eliminate or remediate before a cybercriminal has the chance to leverage them and cause havoc to your organization that can cost millions of dollars in damage.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends vulnerability scans be run at least quarterly, regardless of network size or type. For any organization that relies on continuous availability of their computer network for regular operations, vulnerability scans should be run at least monthly and even more frequently for organizations that collect and/or process personal or sensitive data.
One insider breach can cost around $7.68 million when you add up all the direct and indirect costs, including down-time, fines, lawsuits, notifications, and identity protection for individuals who were compromised. With the most significant security threat lying behind your own doors, you can’t look to external cyberattack stats as the sole risk barometer. The cost a data breach can inflict is a far greater price tag, and it’s not just financial. Loss of customers and their trust are incalculable repercussions.
An important component in combating a potential attack is implementing vulnerability scanning to detect and classify network, application, and security vulnerabilities. By identifying known flaws, coding bugs, packet construction anomalies and misconfigurations to potential access to sensitive data, vulnerability scans assess everything that could possibly be exploited by attackers.
Despite the NIST recommendations and the importance of regular scanning, a recent survey conducted by RapidFire Tools found that 33% of organizations do not conduct any regular vulnerability scanning. Unfortunately, IT professionals understand the risks but are often held back by budget—around 60% of respondents stated that they would run scans more frequently or check more assets if vulnerability scanning was more affordable.
While vulnerability scanning doesn’t make you immune to a cyberattack, it adds another layer of protection to help deter hackers. With the potential cost of a single attack being over $7 million, IT professionals need to have budget conversations that include vulnerability scanning as a key line item in their overall cybersecurity spending plan.
The recent survey also found that almost a third of organizations did not perform vulnerability scans because IT professionals felt they were too complicated and time-consuming. For multifunction IT professionals that have a wide variety of responsibilities, it may be best to outsource vulnerability scanning to a managed service provider (MSP) to ensure systems are protected in a cost-effective way that doesn’t impede day-to-day tasks. Internal IT teams that are not able to outsource vulnerability scanning should consider solutions that simplify the scanning process with automatic ticket creation and the ability to easily set customized alerts that avoid false positives and other “noise” that can impede the discovery of legitimate vulnerabilities.
Implementing a vulnerability management program helps businesses evaluate and secure their networks. It includes detecting, assessing, and mitigating security vulnerabilities of systems and software—and the key factor is detection. Weaknesses can’t be remedied until they are discovered. The longer a vulnerability goes undetected, the more damage that can occur.
With the number of cyberattacks on small and medium-sized businesses continuing to increase, organizations need to take a proactive approach to their cybersecurity efforts—and one key way is through vulnerability management.
Don’t be a number
- 52% of SMBs reported credentials were their most compromised data
- 83% of SMB data breaches were financially motivated
- 22% of SMBs transferred to remote work without a designated threat prevention plan
- 50% of SMB owners admitted that they don’t provide employees with cybersecurity training
- 58% of businesses stated that workers ignore cybersecurity directives
- 42% of IT leaders believed that their static data loss prevention tools won’t detect half of all threat incidents