Vulnerability Assessment

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Vulnerability analysis, also known as vulnerability assessment, is a process that defines, identifies, and classifies the security holes (vulnerabilities) in a computer, network, or communications infrastructure. In addition, vulnerability analysis can forecast the effectiveness of proposed countermeasures and evaluate their actual effectiveness after they are put into use.

Vulnerability analysis consists of following steps:

  • Defining and classifying network or system resources
  • Assigning relative levels of importance to the resources
  • Identifying potential threats to each resource
  • Developing a strategy to deal with the most serious potential problems first
  • Defining and implementing ways to minimize the consequences if an attack occurs.

Vulnerability assessment tools discover which vulnerabilities are present, but they do not differentiate between flaws that can be exploited to cause damage and those that cannot.

Penetration tests attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities in a system to determine whether unauthorized access or other malicious activity is possible and identify which flaws pose a threat to the application. Penetration tests find exploitable flaws and measure the severity of each. A penetration test is meant to show how damaging a flaw could be in a real attack rather than find every flaw in a system. Together, penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tools provide a detailed picture of the flaws that exist in an application and the risks associated with those flaws.