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Robyn Ferreira

Compliance Success Manager

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Best Practices for Vulnerability Scanning: When and How Often to Perform

Summary: Let's break down vulnerability scanning best practices, when and how to perform it, and how it differs according to organizational size.

Is your security strategy up to scratch? It might be, but it may also need a little fine-tuning.

As cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, organizations must take proactive measures to protect their assets and sensitive information. One essential practice in cybersecurity is vulnerability scanning

But knowing when and how often to perform vulnerability scanning can be tricky for many organizations, so today we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of vulnerability scanning best practices, when and how to perform it, and how it differs according to organizational size.

Understanding the Importance of Vulnerability Scanning in Cybersecurity

Don’t underrate the importance of vulnerability scanning— It is essentially a vital front-line defense for your security posture. Vulnerability scanning helps ensure that one weak link in the chain doesn’t compromise your entire system, so you need to patch things up and keep everything strong.

By regularly scanning for weaknesses, companies can be sure they’re aware of any security issues before hackers or malicious parties can exploit them. 

It’s also key to helping companies remain compliant and meet relevant industry standards—not something to be scoffed at in today’s increasingly regulated environment! Without regular vulnerability scanning, loopholes can go unnoticed and organizations will have little chance of fortifying their networks against malicious intruders or complying with frameworks.

The Role of Vulnerability Scanning in Compliance and Risk Management

Vulnerability scanning plays a critical role in compliance and risk management. Many industry compliance frameworks, such as ISO 27001 and HIPAA, recommend regular vulnerability scans.

PCI DSS Compliance

For businesses accepting payments online, PCI DSS compliance requires quarterly vulnerability scans to protect cardholder data. Smaller merchants may also have different requirements based on their credit card processor and level of risk; these may include periodic network scans or monitoring for vulnerabilities as new ones appear.

HIPAA 

Vulnerability scans and penetration tests are not specifically mentioned in the HIPAA security rule. Health and Human Services, however, recommend a technical vulnerability assessment of all IT assets, including web and network assets, in order to comply with the security rule.

Vulnerability Scan Frequency Best Practices

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, vulnerability scanning frequency should be determined based on the size of your organization and the sensitivity of data you’re dealing with.

In the realm of cybersecurity, establishing a robust vulnerability scanning frequency is essential to maintaining the integrity and resilience of an organization’s digital infrastructure. Best practices in this regard emphasize regularity and adaptability. For instance, it is recommended that vulnerability scans be conducted on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with critical systems scanned more frequently. However, this schedule should be flexible, with immediate scans triggered in response to emerging threats or significant system changes. Additionally, annual or bi-annual comprehensive scans are advisable. Furthermore, continuous monitoring of network traffic and system behavior should complement periodic scans. This proactive approach enables organizations to identify and address vulnerabilities promptly, reducing the window of opportunity for potential attackers. Ultimately, the frequency of vulnerability scans should strike a balance between maintaining security and minimizing disruption to day-to-day operations, ensuring that cybersecurity remains a dynamic and ever-evolving practice in the face of evolving threats.

The key takeaway here is that whatever frequency you choose for vulnerability scanning, it should be frequent enough that any vulnerabilities can be identified quickly and remediated in order to keep your network secure.

Automate Recurring Tasks With Vulnerability Scanning Tools

Utilizing automated tools for vulnerability scanning is crucial for efficiency and consistency. After all, manual processes are prone to human error and can be resource-intensive.

Automating recurring tasks with vulnerability scanning tools is a pivotal practice in the world of cybersecurity, offering a myriad of advantages that enhance an organization’s overall security posture. Imagine this process as your cybersecurity “check engine” light, always on the lookout for potential issues. By automating vulnerability scans, you significantly reduce the risk associated with cyber threats. Real-time identification of system vulnerabilities means that you can swiftly address them, reducing your overall susceptibility to cyberattacks.

GET COMPLIANT 90% FASTER WITH AUTOMATION

Best Practices for Interpreting Vulnerability Scan Results

Interpreting vulnerability scan results is a crucial part of the process. Here are a few best practice tips:

Prioritize Findings Based on their Severity: Critical findings should be addressed first and foremost, followed by high vulnerabilities. Medium vulnerabilities should also be addressed, but may not require as urgent attention.
Investigate False Positives: False positives occur when a scan flags something as a security risk but actually isn’t one—make sure you understand why the false positive occurred and take steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Rapid Re-Scanning of Fixed Vulnerabilities: After fixing a critical or high vulnerability, re-scan to ensure that it has been resolved and doesn’t pose any further threat.
Track Remediation Progress: Set up an inventory system to track which vulnerabilities have been fixed and which still need attention. You can easily track progress over time and identify areas that might benefit from additional resources or attention down the line.

Automate Vulnerability Scanning

In summary, when it comes to performing vulnerability scans, it’s important to do it at the right time and with the right frequency, to maintain security and compliance. It is also highly advised to automate these vulnerability scanning procedures to eliminate human error and receive vulnerability updates in real-time and let’s face it – to make vulnerability scanning a little less frustrating.

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