Security Assessment Types

What is Security Assessment?

The term “Security Assessment” refers to risk based assessment, which scans an organisation’s infrastructure and identifies vulnerabilities such as, faulty firewall, lack of system updates, malware and more. The goal of a security assessment is to ensure that, necessary security measures and controls are integrated in the design as well as the implementation of the project. Security assessment is majorly conducted to determine whether the systems security controls are correctly implemented as well as to check whether they are operating as intended. It also ensures that they are producing the desired level of security. Without security assessments, the potential exists that information systems may not be as secure as intended or desired.

A completed security assessment provides documentation outlining any security gaps between a project design and approved corporate security policies. These security issues are then addressed by the Management in the following manner:

  • Management can decide to cancel the project.
  • They can allocate the necessary resources to correct the security gaps.
  • Or the management can accept the risk based on an informed risk / reward analysis.

What to Examine:

Security assessments can vary based on what is required of the consultant or service provider. Its goal is to examine all the areas in some detail, in order to identify vulnerabilities, understanding their relevance, and prioritizing them by risk. Therefore, the initial step before initiating security assessment, whether it is conducted by someone on their own or by a hired consultant, is to determine what one wants to examine. The issues that need security assessment are generally categorised into the below mentioned points:

There are various different types of security assessment which helps to identify functional and technical vulnerabilities:

  1. External Network Components: These include systems and devices accessible from the internet or partner networks.
  2. Internal Network Components: Includes workstations, servers, printers, and other devices used by individuals at an organization.
  3. Guest or Remote Networks: Here mistrusted wireless and wired networks used by visitors or remote VPN users are included.
  4. Applications and Databases: These store sensitive data and allow employees, partners, and customers to conduct important transactions.
  5. Security Policies and Procedure: guide personnel in IT and other departments in maintaining or making use of IT infrastructure.

Importance of Security Assessment:

Security Assessment is extremely important in today’s world where hacking and breaching software applications can be learned easily through various online websites. It is the best way of ensuring that your application as well as your organization is safe from such malpractices and is able to function without any complications. Security assessments provide critical details about vulnerabilities that exists in networks and applications that companies depend on to successfully operate. Moreover, assessment results can be used to:

  • Improve the security of the network.
  • Improve the quality of the application.
  • Protect the sensitive data from being leaked.
  • Prevent a breach from damaging the reputation of a company.

Different Security Assessment Types:

As no two security threats are similar, one can find a variety of security assessment types, which cater to different security assessment needs and provides commendable reports. Security assessments, vary based on what is required of the consultant or service provider as well as on the basis of the consultant’s role. Following is a description of the major types of security assessments:

  1. Vulnerability Assessment:A vulnerability assessment is a technical assessment designed to yield as many vulnerabilities as possible in an environment, along with severity and remediation priority information.
  2. Penetration Assessment: A technical assessment designed to achieve a specific goal, such as, to steal customer data, to gain domain administrator, or to modify sensitive salary information.
  3. Red Team Assessment: The central purpose of a corporate Red Team is to improve the quality of the corporate information security defences. It is best used when an organization has covered the basics of strong vulnerability management and has at least some capability to detect and respond to malicious or suspicious behaviour in the environment.
  4. Audit Assessment:This can be either technical and/or documentation-based, and focuses on how an existing configuration compares to a desired standard. Audit is extremely essential as it does not prove or validate security; it validates conformance with a given perspective on what security means.
  5. White/Grey/Black-Box Assessment: These assessments are used to indicate how much internal information a tester will get to know or use during a given technical assessment. A white-box assessment is where the tester has full access to all internal information available, such as network diagrams, source code, etc. During grey-box assessment, the tester has some information but not all. The amount varies. A black-box assessment is an assessment where the tester has zero internal knowledge about the environment, i.e. it’s performed from the attacker’s perspective.
  6. Risk Assessment: At the highest level, a risk assessment involves determining what the current level of acceptable risk is, measuring the current risk level, and then determining what can be done to bring these two in line where there are mismatches. Risk Assessments commonly involve rating of risks in two dimensions: probability, and impact, and both quantitative and qualitative models are used.
  7. Threat Assessment: This is a type of security review that varies from other assessments. Threat Assessment relates more to the physical attacks than technology and its primary focus is to determine whether a threat that was made, or that was detected some other way, is credible.
  8. Threat Modelling: Threat modelling is the process of capturing, documenting, and (often) visualizing, how threat-agents vulnerabilities, attacks, counter measures, and impacts to the business, are related for a given environment.
  9. Bug Bounty: A Bug Bounty is a type of technical security assessment that leverages crowdsourcing to find vulnerabilities in a system. Its concept is to embrace the difference instead of fighting it, by harnessing multiple testers on a single assessment.


The security assessment is a complex security service offered by either a service provider, or by an internal specialized team in the organization. Its main goal is to examine all the areas of an organisation in some detail, in order to identify vulnerabilities, understand their relevance, and prioritize them by risk. With the assistance of this information the organization or the assessor can develop a remediation plan. Moreover, the information gained from security assessments can also be used to determine incident response protocols and to reveal how one’s business will hold up to an actual cyber-attack. By assessing and prioritizing the highest risks for remediation, one can ensure that the risk level of their organization is lowered and they are protected against potential threats. Therefore, to ensure an organisation’s safety it is essential to execute security assessment.