01 Feb, 2021

What Is A Security Assessment And How Does It Work

by nVisium

Most IT security professionals implicitly understand the concept of a security assessment, but some still misunderstand the nuances of effectively assessing and remediating issues across their entire on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and review the basics in order to ensure nothing is left to chance. What you will need is the right tools to accomplish the task of seeing below the surface of the code, and no, you won’t need a high-powered microscope to complete your assessments.

What Is A Security Assessment

Simply put, a security assessment is a request to analyze the risk of any IT resource, but of paramount importance is a recognition that not all security vulnerabilities and risks are created equal. So, the likelihood that you may need six assessments instead of just one is high.

Since not all security assessments are created equal, you will need to target a specific area for maximum impact. The six area of focus and their corresponding considerations include:

  1. Applications: Securing software for web, client, and server applications requires modeling systems like an attacker would and pinpointing areas of weakness that can be exploited. You will need to provide secure code reviews and web application penetration testing to identify security bugs and flaws while helping development teams rapidly remediate any discovered issues.
  2. Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things (IoT) presents its own unique set of security challenges and requires a broad skill set for assessing. You should aim to secure your IoT devices and corresponding infrastructure through source code reviews, dynamic software and hardware testing, forensic analysis, and reverse engineering.
  3. Networks: Your on-premise, cloud, and hybrid network environments are under continuous attack. So, your network security assessments should explore the digital footprint of an organization and rigorously test your organization’s defenses ability to withstand attacks.
  4. Mobile: Your mobile assessments should explore how an application can expose security and privacy concerns for users and determine how to prevent these issues from happening. You will need a partner that specializes in iOS and Android security and focuses on discovering how security controls can be circumvented in order to breach client-side and server-side defenses.
  5. Cloud: In order to successfully maintain secure cloud software infrastructures as well as guide teams into the cloud securely you will need a partner that has deep expertise with AWS, Azure, and GCP and supporting multi-cloud deployments.
  6. Cloud Native: Building systems the Cloud Native way offers security opportunities as well as new challenges. You should perform security testing and help protect Kubernetes, Docker, and the microservices that power your software.

A security assessment should go beyond just identifying security defects. You should expect a focus on help for meaningfully triaging and fixing vulnerabilities discovered during testing. When selecting a vendor look to see if they provide exceptional remediation advice, which is specific, actionable, and aimed at reducing engineering overhead typically associated with mitigating security issues of each unique area of assessment.

How Do Security Assessments WOrk?

Fundamentally there are two methods to perform a security assessment: authenticated and non-authenticated. The most common type of security assessment is authenticated because they are more comprehensive and show less false positives. This is because authenticated scans require valid login credentials for each scanned device. The credentials are used by the scanner tool to authenticate and obtain detailed information about the operating system and installed applications, including configuration issues and missing security patches.

For the alternative approach, according to UC Berkley Information Security Office:

“Continuous Vulnerability Assessment requirement refers to the non-authenticated scanning technique that is one of the most common vulnerability discovery techniques.  Without using credentials to the scanned system, a non-authenticated vulnerability scan can gather basic information about the system which may include:

  • Operating system name and version
  • Network ports open
  • Services listening on the ports, if these details are available without authentication using techniques such as banner-grabbing
  • Data “leaked” by the listening services, such as the listing of open file shares and insecure configurations that allow access using default/known credentials

The scanning tool obtains this information by sending probing queries over the network to scanned devices.  The scanning tool may be able to use these details from non-authenticated scans to identify some vulnerabilities, such as missing security patches and configuration weaknesses.  As non-authenticated scans are less intrusive to the scanned devices and easier to set up, it should run more frequently than authenticated scans to detect risks associated with future vulnerabilities.”  

Whether you are looking for authenticated or non-authenticated security assessments, it is always a good choice to partner with experienced partners.

Identify Security Weaknesses Before It's Too Late

Why chance being the next headline that announces a breach in your security? Can you really afford the negative impact on your brand on top of the cost of the security breach?

nVisium empowers organizations to eliminate application and cloud security vulnerabilities before cyber threats exploit them with proven in-depth security assessments, remediation and training programs. Our experienced team of security-savvy developers and engineers guide organizations to build best practices with high ROI into their engineering and secure development lifecycles across applications, operating systems, networks, mobile, cloud and IoT through services, software solutions and R&D unique to business operations and compliance initiatives. Additionally, nVisium provides a fully managed platform for tracking and measuring performance as well as instructor-led and online training.

nVisium empowers organizations to eliminate application and cloud security vulnerabilities before cyber threats exploit them with proven in-depth security assessments, remediation and training programs. Call us when you are ready for security assessments to test the vulnerability of your applications, Internet of Things (IoT), networks, mobile and cloud or better yet, schedule a consultation today or download our new eBook titled “Demystifying DevSecOps” to get started yourself.

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