The landscape of digital technology is always changing. As new tools and techniques are developed, threat actors find innovative ways to exploit them. Protecting your IT network, systems, and data needs to be a top priority. A network security assessment can provide essential information for minimizing the risk of cyberattacks and safeguarding sensitive data.

Network Security Assessment Defined

A network security assessment comprehensively evaluates an organization’s network security measures, including the IT network infrastructure, configurations, and protocols. It aims to identify vulnerabilities, determine the level of risk, and create actionable solutions. An organization’s IT security team can run simulated attacks to assess how cybersecurity measures will manage a potential breach or cyberattack. A network security assessment enables enterprises to gain critical insights that can help them enhance their cybersecurity posture. 

How Does a Network Security Assessment Work?

Conducting a network security assessment is critical for maintaining robust cybersecurity measures. Here are six steps for performing a comprehensive network security assessment: 

Inventory and Prioritize Digital Assets

Before a cybersecurity team can conduct a proper network security assessment, they need to have a compiled inventory of all critical IT resources, such as networks, applications, data, and devices. This information provides a clear picture of an organization’s IT environment and how it’s currently being secured. Cybersecurity professionals will then be able to determine which assets need to be prioritized. 

Determine Asset Vulnerabilities

Now that the cybersecurity team has a map, they can look for vulnerabilities. Each asset should receive a comprehensive assessment to locate weaknesses, such as configurations of access controls and database security settings. Other critical areas to evaluate include the Wi-FI network, third-party access to assets, and end-user cybersecurity practices. As vulnerabilities are discovered, cybersecurity professionals should prioritize remediation solutions based on the level of risk for an attack. 

Test Countermeasures

With vulnerabilities prioritized, a cybersecurity team can now test cybersecurity defenses to determine their ability to thwart an attack. It will also inform the team if the correct vulnerabilities have been discovered. A penetration test is an excellent way to assess whether or not a threat actor can breach the network. Penetration testing simulates real-world cyberattack scenarios, which can give organizations the best understanding of how cybersecurity defenses will perform. While most cybersecurity professionals may utilize manual penetration testing, automated tools can also be implemented. 

Document and Communicate Test Results

Once testing is complete, organizations need to document their findings and communicate them effectively to optimize their impact. Creating detailed reports and prioritizing the assets according to their level of risk will help determine how an organization addresses each vulnerability. 

Create and Implement Solutions

Now that an organization has all the relevant information regarding the vulnerabilities to its network security, it’s time to turn those insights into actionable solutions. Some of these remedies may include implementing new access controls, engaging new technological solutions, and enhancing security policies and protocols. 

Continually Monitor Network Security 

With new and enhanced cybersecurity measures implemented, your organization has minimized the risk of a cyberattack; however, the job is never finished. The only way to keep threat actors at bay is by continually monitoring and testing your network security. Internal and external software tools are always being modified and updated. Cybersecurity teams can’t afford to be asleep at the wheel. Whether it’s a misconfiguration, an unpatched system, or another vulnerability, cyber thieves can leverage them to gain access to your network. 

Types of Network Security Assessment

Organizations can implement two types of network security assessments: vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. Each method provides an excellent way for enterprises to evaluate the effectiveness of their IT network’s response to a potential cyberattack on various digital assets.  

Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment is a cybersecurity process of identifying, organizing, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in an enterprise’s network. It provides a comprehensive overview of weaknesses, such as misconfigurations, malware, open ports, and other critical cybersecurity issues. An organization’s IT security team or managed service provider can employ automated tools to scan the network. The detailed report can then be analyzed to determine the most susceptible areas to threat actors. There are several valuable benefits to conducting a vulnerability assessment. 

  • Discover common and unknown vulnerabilities, such as misconfigured access controls, encryption protocols, and weak passwords. 
  • Prioritize critical cybersecurity solutions based on the level of risk identified by the assessment.
  • Reduce the window of opportunity for a potential cyberattack by creating actionable security solutions

Penetration testing

While a vulnerability assessment examines an IT network’s vulnerabilities, penetration testing simulates a cyberattack on an enterprise’s IT network and applications. By doing so, organizations can identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Penetration testing allows an organization to think like a cyber thief. Managed service providers or IT cybersecurity teams utilize the same tactics and techniques used by threat actors to gain access to networks. As security professionals manually simulate a methodically controlled cyberattack, they discover the potential impacts they can have and establish proper countermeasures to prevent them. Penetration testing offers several important benefits:

  • Uncovers weaknesses and vulnerabilities that an automated scan may have missed
  • Supplies a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s vulnerabilities based on realistic, real-world cyberattack scenarios
  • Provides an organization with actionable solutions to enhance an organization’s cybersecurity posture

Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing are indispensable tools for maintaining robust cybersecurity measures. By regularly conducting these network security assessments, organizations can create effective solutions that minimize the risk of a potential cyberattack. 

Importance of Network Security Assessment

Network security assessments are extremely important for safeguarding an organization’s network and sensitive data. By administering a comprehensive evaluation, cybersecurity professionals can pinpoint a wide range of vulnerabilities, assess them, and develop actionable solutions. Network security assessments also support organizations in meeting industry regulations and standards, which may require the implementation of best practices when it comes to safeguarding sensitive data. Organizations can instill confidence in stakeholders, including third-party vendors and customers, by conducting network security assessments. With the help of a thorough network security assessment, organizations can build a robust cybersecurity posture, safeguard their reputation, and ensure business continuity. 

Cynergy Technology is a leading provider of cloud computing and cybersecurity solutions. Whether you prefer a vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, or both, we can help your organization enhance its cybersecurity posture. To learn more about how Cynergy’s cybersecurity solutions can support your enterprise, contact our team for a free consultation today.