A car service technician enters an invoice into his shop's computer system.
Small businesses are a prime target for cyberattackers. However, there are affordable services and tools available to safeguard your company. — Getty Images/Ika84

Cybersecurity should be a priority for every business, and vulnerability scanning is an important tool to identify weaknesses in your system. By proactively detecting and addressing these issues, businesses can protect themselves against unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyberattacks.

Here’s everything you need to know about risk detection and vulnerability management, including how to scan your systems for potential flaws without breaking the budget.

What is vulnerability management?

Vulnerability management is a vital aspect of cybersecurity, ensuring protection against potential threats. A key component of this practice is vulnerability scanning, which involves a systematic examination of your networks, applications, and devices to identify security shortcomings that could be exploited by malicious actors.

Regular vulnerability scans proactively detect and address system weaknesses before they are exploited. Security vulnerabilities can stem from various sources, including misconfigurations, outdated software, unpatched systems, weak passwords, or improper access controls. These factors can leave systems open to unauthorized access, data breaches, or other cyberattacks.

Understanding the underlying causes of security vulnerabilities is crucial for effective management and mitigation. By utilizing cost-effective vulnerability scanning methods, organizations can fortify their systems against potential threats while staying within their budgetary constraints.

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Evaluating vulnerability risks

Assessing the potential impact and likelihood of each identified vulnerability is a crucial component of vulnerability management. It helps prioritize vulnerabilities based on their severity and potential impact on the business.

By ranking the risks, a business can determine which vulnerabilities require immediate attention and which ones can be addressed at a later stage. This strategic approach allows organizations to allocate their resources effectively, focusing on the most critical vulnerabilities first and gradually addressing others in order of importance. By systematically addressing vulnerabilities based on their rankings, businesses can enhance their security while optimizing their budget allocation.

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Regular vulnerability scans proactively detect and address system weaknesses before they are exploited.

What do vulnerability scanning and detection tools do?

Vulnerability scanning tools are designed to specifically detect weaknesses within networks, applications, and devices. By conducting comprehensive scans, they identify and classify vulnerabilities, providing businesses with a clear understanding of their security gaps.

Vulnerability scanners also assist in implementing effective countermeasures to mitigate the identified vulnerabilities. These countermeasures range from software patches and updates to configuration changes and recommended security practices.

Vulnerability assessment costs

The cost of a vulnerability assessment can vary depending on factors such as the size of the organization, the complexity of the infrastructure, and the scope of the assessment. Generally, the costs range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

For companies on a budget, there are several ways to save on vulnerability assessments. One approach is to prioritize critical systems and high-risk areas, having the assessment focus on areas that are most vulnerable.

Open-source or free vulnerability scanning tools can provide basic vulnerability detection without the expense of commercial solutions. Additionally, partnering with external security firms or consultants can be a cost-effective alternative to hiring full-time staff dedicated to vulnerability assessments.

Most vulnerability scanner systems on the market are fairly priced considering the value they offer. Ultimately, the investment in vulnerability scanners is a proactive step toward strengthening the overall security of a business, potentially saving it lots of money in the long run.

[Read more: 4 Cybersecurity Steps Small Business Should Take Now]

The different types of vulnerability scanners

There are a host of vulnerability scanner tools that you can use, and each type offers unique advantages that can be chosen based on the specific needs of your organization. Here are some tools you can choose from:

  • Web application vulnerability scanning identifies weaknesses specific to web applications, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection. These may also be called Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools.
  • Network-based vulnerability scanning examines network devices and overall infrastructure for vulnerabilities like misconfigurations or outdated software.
  • Agent-based vulnerability scanning uses software installed on individual devices to assess vulnerabilities from within the operating system.
  • Cloud-based vulnerability scanning finds any potential issues within cloud services, then provides suggestions on how to address those vulnerabilities.

What all of these methods share in common is their ability to help businesses identify and address vulnerabilities while staying within their budgetary constraints.

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