What Is a Network Security Assessment (and Why Do You Need One)?

A network security assessment helps you identify vulnerabilities in your security posture so you can better resist an attack.

Network security should be a top priority for any business, especially in today’s threat environment. With cyberattacks constantly evolving, the growth of remote work creating new cybersecurity challenges, and hackers taking advantage of any opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities, it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand how their network holds up against threats.

The numbers surrounding data breach costs are stark. On average, $17,700 is lost every minute due to phishing attacks alone. A single data breach costs an enterprise an average of $3.92 million, including everything from lost data to fines and lost worker hours. Lacking sufficient cybersecurity can also cost you even if your business isn’t attacked, due to ever-increasing governmental regulations. Last year, for example, Google had to pay $57 million in France for failure to comply with GDPR.

From these data points alone, it’s clear that properly investing in cybersecurity is a critical element of running a modern business. However, even if you fully understand the importance of cybersecurity, it can be hard to know where to begin. Network security assessments can help businesses identify their current security vulnerabilities and determine how to prioritize security spending to reduce the likelihood of a devastating cyberattack.

 

Defining Network Security Assessments

Network security assessments are essentially audits of your existing security measures. They are designed to find any vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited to harm your business operations or expose sensitive information. If conducted properly, they should give you the insights you need to take targeted steps towards addressing those vulnerabilities and protecting your assets.

The basic purpose of a network security assessment is to keep your devices, network, and sensitive data protected from unauthorized access. To achieve this goal, the assessment works to:

  • Discover any possible internal or external entry points.
  • Identify network security vulnerabilities in file, application, and database servers.
  • Determine if a combination of low-risk vulnerabilities could be exploited to create a high-risk weakness.
  • Audit and measure the size of the possible impact of successful attacks from both inside and outside your company.
  • Test the power of network defenders to detect and respond to possible attacks.

 

How Network Security Assessments Work

There are two broad types of network security assessments, both of which are great ways to test the effectiveness of your existing network security defenses. These types are:

  • Vulnerability assessment: A vulnerability assessment locates the weaknesses within your system according to the steps enumerated below.
  • Penetration test: A penetration test mimics an actual cyberattack or social engineering attack to test how your defenses hold up in a simulated version of a real attack.

To conduct a network security assessment, organizations should follow the general steps below:

  1. Take an inventory of your resources: Identify all of your assets and prioritize which you want to assess first based on their importance. This can also give you an overview of your network and the security controls around it.
  2. Figure out your information value: Develop a classification policy that gives you a standard way of determining the value (including the business importance) of an asset or a piece of data so you know how to prioritize your security spending.
  3. Assess the vulnerability of your IT infrastructure: Cybersecurity risks can come from anywhere, which is why this step of the assessment can be quite extensive. This step generally involves things like network scanning, testing for internal weaknesses, network enumeration, information security policy review, third-party review, and reviews of BYOD (bring your own device) policies and email usage. It can also involve evaluating a business’s defenses against issues like natural disasters, human error, and system failures, as well as adversarial threats.
  4. Test your security defenses: Once you identify the vulnerabilities in your organization’s security, you can test if your risk mitigation techniques and security protocols are able to successfully prevent attackers from being able to exploit them.

 

A Security Assessment With TTI

Conducting a thorough security risk assessment can help your organization stay protected against cyber threats. When it comes to effectively analyzing risks, it’s best to have a third-party evaluate your network to get an unbiased view of how a hacker would see your network.

A partnership with Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) is the perfect way to get those valuable insights from an outside perspective—and then get help in taking the appropriate actions to reduce risks. Reach out to the experts at TTI to learn how we can kickstart a long-lasting partnership with a network security assessment and help you strengthen your security posture from there.

By Tony Pugielli

October 30, 2020

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