The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on multiple areas of the American economy, but the shift to remote work opened the door for a veritable bloodbath in the realm of cybersecurity. Despite cybersecurity spending exceeding $126B worldwide, the industry trends in 2020 of accelerated data breaches, phishing attacks, and ransomware attacks is anticipated to lead to more than $6 trillion in damages in 2021.
These trends are forcing companies to expand defensive measures to improve prevention and detection methods on networks. For new deployments across hybrid, public, or private Cloud configurations, this can be accomplished from the ground up in building out the network. However, if your organization hasn’t verified your network integrity for a while, there’s no time like the start of the year to perform a network security assessment. In this discussion, Charlotte-based managed IT services provider Apex Technology outlines that process in detail to help show businesses how to better protect themselves and slow the damage being done across the economy by cyberattacks.
A Thorough Breakdown of the Network Audit Checklist
At a high level, network security assessments are designed to help your organization lock down access points that could potentially be used by hackers during a cyberattack to compromise your network. These assessments can take two different forms–an internal test to reveal network weaknesses known as a vulnerability assessment, and an external test performed in a way that mimics an actual attack known as a penetration test. Together, these two tests could be seen as an assessment that shows just how much damage could be done to your network during a real-world attack, and provide extremely important information to your network administration team on how to improve your IT infrastructure. In combination with each other, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests follow a general template.
Enumerate Network Resources
At the start of the network assessment, it’s important to map out and determine the scope of your network. This includes the scope of the network itself, routers, modems, switches, and other devices, the data that flows through and is stored upon the network, and other digital assets that your system is designed to protect. Mapping out your network infrastructure upfront sets the stage for the remainder of the assessment.
Use Existing Documentation and Digital Tools to Determine Vulnerabilities
In the initial stages of the assessment, a vulnerability assessment allows you to test your systems from within. Throughout these tests, you’ll be scanning ports and other access points, assessing internal software vulnerabilities, using tools to determine if your wi-fi, network, or IoT network provides footholds for attackers. You’ll also test how clients and third-parties might be able to log in or access your networks and if that provides opportunities to access sensitive data. Most importantly, you’ll be assessing and reviewing employee behaviors and the policies that govern their use of your internal networks to provide insight into how damaging a social engineering attack might be.
Using What You Learn to Establish Parameters for Penetration Testing
Using your own network professionals or a third party, you can utilize what you’ve learned from your vulnerability assessment to lay the ground rules for a penetration test. This sort of assessment simulates an external attacker and shows how difficult it might be to access vulnerabilities and provide in-depth direction as to how to make improvements, how to detect attacks from new vulnerabilities based on the software or equipment you’re using, and ultimately where you need to focus in the future with detection tools and mitigation efforts.
Your goal ultimately, as the cybersecurity field is always evolving and the risks ever-changing, is to create a network that you can continuously monitor. Being able to monitor and assess risks and threats in real-time allows you to mitigate and reduce attacks at the moment, providing a safer environment and data security for your clients.
Partner Up For Safer Network Security Services
Whether your organization’s network is premise-based or some hybrid Cloud deployment, chances are as a small- to medium-sized business it will be difficult for you to dedicate the necessary resources to network security and assessment on a constant basis. Apex Technology’s team of trained cybersecurity professionals can support your team and provide peace of mind knowing that we’re monitoring your systems from the inside and out to prevent a breach. Learn more about our SecureMAX security solution and other managed IT services on offer to our clients across the Charlotte metropolitan area.