A small-business owner’s guide to network vulnerability scanning

Modern small businesses rely heavily on technology to operate efficiently, but this dependence also exposes them to cyberthreats. Small businesses tend to overlook their cybersecurity because they think that because of their size, they are not likely to become targets of cyberattacks. This leads to gaps in their network that they might not be aware of until an attack occurs.

To help protect against cyberthreats, small businesses like yours must perform network vulnerability scanning.

What is network vulnerability scanning, and why is it important?

Network vulnerability scanning is essentially a digital health checkup for your business network. It involves identifying and assessing the weaknesses in your systems, devices, and services. These weaknesses, or vulnerabilities, can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to your network, steal data, launch cyberattacks, or disrupt your operations.

By performing network vulnerability scanning, you can proactively address these security weaknesses before they can be exploited. Moreover, if you belong to an industry subject to stringent security regulations, conducting an assessment ensures your compliance with such regulations.

How does network vulnerability scanning work?

Network vulnerability scanning is typically done using a vulnerability scanner, a tool that automatically performs the following steps:

  1. Asset discovery: The scanner gathers information about the target network, such as the IP addresses of all devices on the network and the software running on those devices.
  2. Vulnerability detection: The scanner uses a variety of techniques to identify vulnerabilities. Some scanners use signature-based detection, which involves comparing network traffic to a database of known vulnerabilities. Other scanners use behavior-based detection, which involves analyzing network traffic for unusual behavior that could indicate a vulnerability.
  3. Vulnerability reporting: The scanner generates a report of the identified vulnerabilities to the organization’s security team. The report typically details the severity of each vulnerability, the likelihood of it being exploited, and recommendations for remediation.

The security team can use the insights provided in the report to remediate the identified vulnerabilities by patching software, changing network configurations, or implementing other security controls.

What are the top three network vulnerabilities?

It is important to understand the three main network vulnerabilities that you may encounter:

  • Misconfigured devices: Cybercriminals often exploit misconfigured devices as entry points into your network. Even a single misconfigured device can compromise your entire network.
  • Unpatched systems: Neglecting to update your systems leaves them vulnerable to attacks. Cybercriminals can easily exploit unpatched systems by introducing viruses, Trojans, and ransomware, increasing the risk to your organization and your customers.
  • Human error: Humans tend to be the weakest link in the security chain. Cybercriminals know this and often employ tactics such as phishing to trick employees into granting access to the network. Conducting security awareness training for your employees can mitigate this risk.

What are network vulnerability scanning best practices for small businesses?

Adopting these best practices will help ensure that your network vulnerability scan is efficient and effective:

  • Scan your network regularly: Network vulnerability scanning should be performed regularly to identify new vulnerabilities as they are discovered. It is also important to scan the network after any changes are made, such as installing new software or adding new devices to the network.
  • Use a dependable scanner: There are many different types of vulnerability scanners in the market, ranging from free open-source tools to commercial products. Some scanners are designed to be used by security professionals, while others are designed for nontechnical users. Make sure you choose a scanner that is from a reputable vendor and is regularly updated.
  • Prioritize remediation efforts: Some vulnerabilities are more critical than others and should be remediated first. Prioritize the vulnerabilities based on their severity.
  • Patch vulnerabilities promptly: Once you have identified a vulnerability, patch it as soon as possible.
  • Consult with a security professional: If you are not sure how to remediate a vulnerability or if you have any questions about your network security, you should consult with a qualified security professional.

Interplay offers FREE network security assessment (valued at $499). Our security professionals will come to your office and perform a comprehensive scan of your network and security systems to identify vulnerabilities, threats, and other potential risks. Request your complimentary network security assessment today.