Why is Risk-Based Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing important in the age of Zero Trust?

Modern-day companies face serious dangers from the cyber domain. 

If an organization isn’t taking a systematic and proactive approach to cybersecurity, and to running a web application vulnerability assessment in particular, then that organization isn’t defended against the most rapidly increasing cyberattacks. 

Cyber attacks can lead to a loss in revenue, bad brand image, bankruptcy, data loss, etc. In fact, the research firm Gartner estimates that 75% of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber-physical security incidents by 2024.

This article will provide an overview of why you need risk-based vulnerability assessment and penetration in the age of zero trust.

How Penetration Testing Can Help Your Organization?

Risk assessment is part of an integrated approach to cybersecurity and a requirement of many security standards. One of the most common ways to assess cybersecurity risks is penetration testing. 

It’s hard to underestimate the role of penetration testing in risk evaluation. It needs thorough testing to identify, assess, and prioritize risks.

Penetration testing involves using ethical hacking techniques to break into a network and identify vulnerabilities, or weak points in which an outside party can enter. 

Usually, it has four phases: 

  1. Planning
  2. Discovery
  3. Attacking
  4. Reporting. 

The first two phases include collecting all basic information for the network, including port and service identifications, IP addresses, host names, contact information, employee names, application & service information, and operating system information.

The attacking and reporting phase exploits the vulnerability to confirm its existence and how to remediate the risks.

Conducting Your Vulnerability Assessment

There can be a lot of reasons your organization may need to conduct a vulnerability assessment, like to conduct a checkup regarding your overall web security risk posture. 

But if your organization has more than a handful of applications then doing it manually cannot be the viable solution without wasting many resources.  Once you’ve figured out the scope, you need to prioritize the applications that need to be assessed. 

If you’re accessing a single, new application, that decision is easy. But if you’re on the precipice of accessing every web application in your architecture, you have some decisions to make. Whether you’re looking at the web security of applications you own, or only those that take part in online sales transactions, you need to inventory and prioritize the applications to be assessed.

No matter your scope, or the purpose of your vulnerability assessment, other aspects of your architecture always need to be considered when listing and prioritizing your applications. 

For example, any externally facing applications – even those that don’t contain sensitive information – need to be given high priority. The same is true for externally hosted applications, whether they are Internet-facing or directly connected to back-end systems. Any applications that are accessible by the Internet, or hosted by others, should be subject to a vulnerability assessment. 

You can’t assume that an application is secure just because it is hosted by a third party, just as you can’t assume that there is no risk just because a web application, form, or entire site doesn’t handle sensitive information. 

In both cases, any web security vulnerabilities could very likely lead an attacker directly to your most critical network segments and applications.

The Risk-Based Vulnerability Assessment

Now you’re ready for the risk-based vulnerability assessment. Believe it or not, much of the hard work is already done: deciding the scope, and then classifying and prioritizing your applications. 

Now, assuming you’ve already had a web security scanner and have identified who will conduct the manual scan for business logic errors, you’re ready to take a whack at your application.

The resulting report, based on the security health of the application, will provide you with a list of the high, medium, and low priority vulnerabilities. At this point, you’ll need someone to vet the automated vulnerability assessment results to find any false positives or vulnerabilities identified by the scanner. 

On the other hand, you can have an AI-based vulnerability or platform-based architecture that can secure your IT infrastructure from cyberattacks without doing any manual work and saving a lot of cost and resources.

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