As modern day software and hardware are more susceptible to security breaches, hacking, and cyber attacks, it has become essential to mitigate security threats and use effective preventive measures to validate the security and quality of an organization’s network, applications, and infrastructure. Accomplishing this has been made possible by security assessment, which helps to identify major risks and threats in an infrastructure and allows one to take necessary precautions to avoid security breaches, hacks, etc. Hence, to help you understand the significance of security assessment, following is a detailed discussion on security assessment and its types.
What is Security Assessment?
A significant part of information technology, ‘security assessment’ is a risk-based assessment, wherein an organization’s systems and infrastructure are scanned and assessed to identify vulnerabilities, such as faulty firewall, lack of system updates, malware, or other risks that can impact their proper functioning and performance. With the aid of security assessment, the team of assessors can validate that crucial security measures and controls are integrated into the design as well as the implementation of the project, which can prevent them from any external threats and breaches.
Performed with the intent of identifying vulnerabilities and risks in a system or process, security assessment also validates the proper integration of security controls and ensures the level of security offered by it.
Features of Security Assessment:
To ensure the security of an organization’s infrastructure and systems, it is vital for the teams to implement security assessment across all sections of development. Therefore, listed below are some of the features of security assessment that signifying its importance in IT industry.
Security assessment helps integrate necessary security measures after thorough assessment of the system.
Can be conducted by someone themselves or by a hired consultant or by a service provider.
Locates IT security vulnerabilities and risks.
Helps control risks and their impact on the systems.
It provides detailed documentation outlining all security apertures/gaps between the design of a project and the authorized corporate security policies.
Once, the assessment is completed, the security issues are addressed by the management, who further take necessary measures to mitigate and resolve various issues, such as:
They either decide to cancel the project or integrate required security measures into its design.
Necessary resources and assets are allocated to rectify security gaps.
Management can accept the risk based on an informed risk/reward analysis.
Types of Security Assessment:
Nowadays, a variety of security issues and threats are found in the IT industry. Hence, it is no shock to find that there are 9 different types of security assessment, each of which caters to different security issues and offers effective way to mitigate them, along with commendable reports. The different security assessment types are:
Vulnerability Assessment: A significant security assessment type, vulnerability assessment involves identifying, quantifying, prioritizing, and classifying vulnerabilities and threats in a system or its environment, while offering information to rectify them.
Penetration Assessment: Penetration test or pen test, as it is commonly known, is a process of intentionally, yet safely, attacking the system and exploiting its vulnerabilities, to identify its weakness as well as strength. Pen test helps validate the effectiveness of various security measures implemented in the system, as well as its adherence to security policies.
Red Team Assessment: Though quite similar to penetration assessment, red team assessment is more targeted than the former. It identifies the vulnerabilities in the system as well as gapes across an organization’s infrastructure and defense mechanism. In short, the objective of this assessment is to test an organization’s detection and response capabilities.
Security Audit: Security audit is an extensive and thorough overview of an organization’s security systems and processes. It offers in-depth reviews of system’s physical attributes as well as identifies gaps in the security policies, and conducts major vulnerability assessments. This is an extremely important type of assessment, as it validates conformance with standard security policies.
White/Grey/Black-Box Assessment: Though grouped together, these assessments cater to different attributes of the system as well as organization’s infrastructure. They indicate the quantitative and qualitative estimation of the internal information shared with the tester. In white-box assessment the tester has full knowledge of the internal workings of the application or the system. Whereas, in gray-box assessment limited information is shared with the tester. In black-box assessment the internal information of the system as well as its environment is not required, moreover, this is performed from the perspective of the hacker.
Risk Assessment: During this type of security assessment, potential risks and hazards are objectively evaluated by the team, wherein uncertainties and concerns are presented to be considered by the management. Additionally, it brings the current level of risks present in the system to the one that is acceptable to the organization, through quantitative and qualitative models.
Threat Assessment: Threat assessment is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing potential threats, and determining their credibility as well as seriousness. It measures the probability of detected threats becoming a real risk. In short, this assessment type is quite different from others as it is more focused on physical attacks rather than making assumptions.
Threat Modelling: Threat modelling is a process of apprehending and reporting vulnerabilities, risks and threats, by evaluating risks from the perspective of the hacker. It helps identify, enumerate and prioritize issues and risks, while assessing their impact on the system’s functioning.
Bug Bounty: Bug bounty is the most effective way of finding security vulnerabilities in the system. It comprises various professional testers, who test the system for any security breaches and issues through thorough assessment.
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What to Examine?
The process of security assessment can vary due to various reasons. From what is required of the consultant performing the assessment, to the requirements of the situation, several aspects and factors impact this important evaluation of vulnerabilities and risks present in the system. Therefore, it is crucial to determine what needs to be examined before initiating the process of security assessment. To simplify this, categorized below are the issues that require security assessment.
External Network Components: These are the systems and devices, which are accessible from the internet or other partner networks.
Internal Network Components: These are the servers, printers, workstations, and other important devices that are used by the members of an organization for their day-to-day workings.
Guest or Remote Networks: These include all the mistrusted wireless and wired networks that are used by visitors or remote VPN users.
Applications and Databases: Here, all the sensitive data is stored, which allows employees, partners, and customers to conduct important transactions.
Security Policies and Procedure: These are the standards and guides followed by the IT personnels and other departments to maintain IT infrastructures and other systems.
Why is Security Assessment Important?
Nowadays, when technology is advancing at a speed of light, it is extremely important for organizations to implement security assessment before, during, as well as after the completion of the development process. With the assistance of security assessment organizations can identify various vulnerabilities and issues in their infrastructure and systems, and take necessary steps to rectify them. It is the best way of safeguarding the critical information about an organization as well as the people related to it.
Other reasons that signify the importance of security assessment are stated below:
It improves the security of an organization and their networks, applications, devices, and more.
Prevents malpractices, security breaches, as well as critical data theft.
Protects sensitive and critical data and information.
Improves the quality and effectiveness of an application.
Helps protect the reputation of an organization.
Allows organizations to adopt necessary defensive mechanisms.
Offered by a service provider or an internal team in an organization, the process of security assessment is complex and extremely crucial. It is one of the best way of ensuring the security of an organization's infrastructure, system, devices, applications, and more. It allows them to prioritize and tackle vulnerabilities, which can hamper their reputation or can cause huge loss of resources. Hence, if an organization wants to remain safe from security breaches, hackers, or any other security threats, then they should always implement security assessment.