Behind the Scenes of Security Assessments

August 3, 2023

Behind the Scenes Security assessments are an integral component of most businesses’ cyber security strategies. They allow them to identify threats and vulnerabilities, make recommendations and implement controls effectively.

Automated questionnaires and reports allow an organization to assess its security stance efficiently in one comprehensive process, while simultaneously creating an integrated approach to security across all IT resources.

Preparation

Security assessments are an integral component of cybersecurity efforts. If you want to enhance or bolster existing defenses, security assessments from experts are key in providing this service regularly.

Security assessments identify vulnerabilities within your systems, processes and infrastructure that put the security of your business at risk – such as human error or malicious hackers.

Once you’ve identified vulnerabilities, the next step should be implementing safeguards to reduce or eradicate them entirely. This can be achieved either through proper security procedures in place within your organization, or using automated scanning tools that detect potential threats immediately.

Vulnerabilities can be detected using audits, penetration testing, security analyses, automated vulnerability scanning tools or the NIST vulnerability database. It’s crucial that businesses implement a comprehensive security strategy and train employees on how to recognize signs of security threats in the workplace.

Once your vulnerabilities have been identified, the next step in the assessment process should be prioritizing them based on importance and severity. This step enables you to plan how best to address each one.

An annual security evaluation should be performed. As threats constantly evolve, your defenses need to be updated as frequently as possible in order to remain effective.

Security assessment providers must create a SAP,103 documenting the scope of an assessment. This means identifying which security controls and enhancements will be implemented during assessment as well as their evaluation criteria during the process. Furthermore, specific assessment methods or objects will also be identified that will be utilized during this assessment to measure these controls or enhancements.

Make sure your SAP is well documented, with all parties involved understanding what will be expected of them during an assessment, so as to ensure a smooth experience and allow your company to track results of its efforts.

Testing

Security Assessment

In an age when technology has become an essential element for business success, organizations need to ensure their information systems are protected against threats. A cybersecurity audit is one effective way of identifying any weaknesses within your infrastructure that could pose potential vulnerabilities – and then developing an action plan for mitigating any future dangers.

There are various tests that can be conducted to assess the security of an organization’s IT systems, from manual tests to automated ones.

Step one in conducting a security risk analysis should be creating an assessment plan. This document should contain details regarding which assets will be assessed, what data will be utilized, and how risks will be managed or analyzed.

As important is it is for all team members to understand the process and its goals, everyone should also know exactly their roles and how they will contribute so as to make sure everything runs smoothly.

At this stage, testing methods selection should also play an essential role. Security teams should choose techniques that have the highest chance of identifying vulnerabilities.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) are two popular automated testing methodologies used to detect vulnerabilities within an organization’s IT infrastructure. SAST utilizes static analysis of source code in order to identify any areas where vulnerabilities may exist, while DAST relies on dynamic analysis for similar results.

DAST works similarly, using various tools to test both its operating code and how it interacts with other components, as well as any unexpected events they might trigger – for instance fuzzing testing can also be applied here.

Once a security team has selected an appropriate set of testing methods, they must determine their depth and coverage. This will enable them to ascertain the amount of time and resources required for completion, while also looking for opportunities to consolidate or sequence procedures to reduce duplicate efforts and maximize cost savings.

Reporting

Security assessment relies heavily on reports. From spreadsheets and dashboards, to formal documents designed to deliver critical data at just the right moment, creating effective reports requires selecting only pertinent information and presenting it in an easily digestible format.

A great report will enable you to gain a clear picture of your assets, vulnerabilities, and the plans in place to address them. A comprehensive security posture assessment also gives budget planners and policy-makers insight into your overall security posture – which is crucial when developing budgets and policies.

There are various reports available on the market, but selecting one that will enable your organization to produce high-quality outputs that meet both its needs and budget is essential. A good reporting system should support role-based security, authentication and authorization as well as making data easily accessible so it can be reported upon in the proper context for optimal use, giving your organization an edge against competitors.

Making the most out of your business requires using appropriate reporting technology, like Sisense’s free reporting app that lets you discover and display information from existing systems with no coding needed. Other solutions, like data visualization tools, allow for swift transformation from raw data into actionable insights in mere clicks.

Implementation

Implementation is when you start carrying out the plan for your project. In this step, you and your team identify its scope, establish goals, and formulate a schedule to monitor its progress.

Step four is where you enumerate all of the resources required for your project. Doing this helps avoid running out of resources midway through, while simultaneously making sure all members of your team have what they need for completion of the task at hand.

If you need someone else’s assistance in creating an implementation plan, be sure to include their name in the document so everyone is clear as to who will be accountable for this task. This will prevent any conflicts of interests later on during the project.

Implementation is an integral component of any project, but especially important for security assessments. It is crucial that every aspect of implementation be carefully considered so that your project goals are fulfilled smoothly.

Dependent upon your assessment goals, you may decide to use a standard framework such as the CIS Top 18 or ISO 27001 for security evaluation. Or use your company risk profile and formulate an individual plan to ensure the information in your care is safe from theft or loss.

Your security assessments can help your organization identify vulnerabilities within its systems, servers, applications and data centers as well as identify areas for improvement within their security practices.

These assessments can be particularly helpful if your organization is under regulatory pressure to remain compliant. HIPAA and FISMA both require regular security assessments to ensure patient data remains protected.

Conducting security assessments regularly also has another advantage – keeping up with changing technology and threats. New technologies, like IoT, virtualization and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), may all increase vulnerability of systems against security threats.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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