Vulnerability assessments define, identify, classify, and prioritize flaws and vulnerabilities in applications, devices, and networks that can expose organizations, their products, services, code, and applications, to attack.
Security vulnerabilities allow malicious actors to exploit an organization’s applications and systems, so it is essential to identify and respond to them before attackers can exploit them. Comprehensive vulnerability assessments, combined with a risk management strategy, are a critical part of an organization’s security management.
A vulnerability assessment provides vital insight to understand the risks to an organization’s computing environment. The organization can then respond to vulnerabilities based on their priority level.
An effective assessment process involves determining the risk that different vulnerabilities pose to an organization. Typically, this process involves using automated tools such as security scanners. Vulnerability assessment reports should record the results produced by these testing and scanning tools.
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Vulnerability assessment processes typically include the following phases:
Effective vulnerability assessment is an ongoing effort. Organizations must incorporate continuous security testing and remediation processes into their everyday operations, adopting a DevSecOps approach to ensure cooperation between teams.
Vulnerability assessment vendors offer tools to detect, classify, and prioritize network vulnerabilities and manage remediation. Important capabilities include:
When choosing a vulnerability assessment solution, you should evaluate how the capabilities of each solution stack up against each other, and how they most closely meet your needs. It is also important to consider how different solutions include support for third-party tools to help automate remediation efforts and provide security through the entire vulnerability lifecycle.
Security management should leverage passive scanning techniques such as API or agent-based scanners in addition to active network scans. The more capabilities offered, the more assets a solution can cover and the greater your overall visibility. You should also evaluate vendors according to the agent-based capabilities they offer and support for remote device management.
Here are popular tools that can help you assess, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in your organization.
WhiteSource provides industry-leading open source security with our SCA technology. This enables you to secure your organization by looking beyond detection, to automatically identify and fix your open source security vulnerabilities at every stage of the software development lifecycle. And you can achieve this by giving developers and security professionals the tools they need to manage open source security from within their native development environments. Using our tools, they can:
For custom code, WhiteSource SAST integrates with your existing DevOps environment and CI/CD pipeline. Its scanning engine produces results 10 times faster than traditional SAST solutions. And it supports 27 different programming languages and various different programming frameworks. WhiteSource SAST lets enterprise application developers create new applications quickly, without sacrificing security.
WhiteSource’s repository integrations, including support for GitHub, GitHub Packages, JFrog, BitBucket, and GitLab, provide developer-focused security tools that operate within the native development environment, without compromising agility.
W3AF is an open-source web application vulnerability scanner. It can help you discover and remediate vulnerabilities in web applications, and also provides an exploitation kit for active penetration tests.
The solution uses a plugin-based architecture including:
OpenSCAP is an open-source vulnerability detection and assessment toolkit. It is available on various Linux distributions, Fedora, and Ubuntu. Since version 1.3.0 OpenSCAP also supports Microsoft Windows. Based on NIST’s Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP), it standardizes security management workflows. OpenSCAP lets you test configurations to identify indicators of compromise (IoCs) based on rules from various security standards.
Main features include:
Nikto is an open-source web server scanner that lets you perform comprehensive tests against web servers to scan for multiple objects. It scans for more than 6,500 potentially malicious files or CGIs, outdated versions of more than 1,250 servers, and version-specific issues on more than 270 servers. It also scans for server configuration issues, including multiple index files and HTTP server options, and attempts to identify any software or web servers installed. You can automate frequent updates for plugins and scanning items.
Wireshark is an open-source, free network monitoring solution that captures and analyzes network traffic, lets you examine and resolve security issues, and troubleshoot common network problems. It’s useful for identifying malicious traffic resulting from exploits of vulnerabilities on the network. It achieves this by scanning the network traffic for vulnerabilities and suspicious activities, and converts binary data into a human-readable format with proper structuring. Having captured and analyzed the packet data from the network, it lets you visualize the data in a graphical user interface..
It runs on multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, OS X, FreeBSD, and NetBSD, and it supports more than two thousand network protocols, which is why it’s a popular tool for network management.
Main features include:
In this article we have covered the basics of vulnerability assessment, key features and capabilities of vulnerability assessment tools, and briefly reviewed popular vulnerability assessment tools. We hope this will be useful as you improve your organization’s ability to identify, assess, and remediate critical security vulnerabilities.
This article is based on information that is publicly available as of the date of publication and is not intended to represent an independent third-party comparison.