Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing (or ranking) the vulnerabilities in a system.

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 assessment consists of several 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

If security holes are found as a result of vulnerability assessment, a vulnerability disclosure may be required. The person or organization that discovers the vulnerability, may make the disclosure. If the vulnerability is not classified as a high level threat, the vendor may be given a certain amount of time to fix the problem before the vulnerability is disclosed publicly.

The third stage of vulnerability analysis (identifying potential threats) is sometimes performed by using ethical hacking techniques. Using this method to assess vulnerabilities, security experts deliberately probe a network or system to discover its weaknesses. This process provides guidelines for the development of countermeasures to prevent a genuine attack.

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