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What is Vulnerability Assessment in Ethical Hacking? Lifecycle, Tools, Scoring Systems

What is Vulnerability Assessment in Ethical Hacking?

It is the process of assessing or reviewing the vulnerabilities or security weaknesses in a system. Vulnerability assessment helps in finding whether the system is prone to cyber-attacks so that the vulnerabilities discovered can be removed.

Vulnerability assessment can assist in preventing several types of threats like SQL injection, XSS, insecure settings in software or apps, privileges because of faulty mechanisms, etc.

Vulnerability Assessment Lifecycle

Below is the life cycle of vulnerability assessment in ethical hacking:

1. Discover

In this phase, the vulnerabilities in a network or system are discovered or a comprehensive list of vulnerabilities is created. This is done by testing the security status of the servers, systems, or apps by using scanning tools or testing them manually. 

2. Analysis

The vulnerabilities discovered in the first step are analyzed to find their root cause, and the elements in the system or network that are responsible for causing those vulnerabilities. For instance, the root cause of a vulnerability might be the out-of-date version of the software. 

3. Risk Assessment

A team of security analysts or testers prioritizes the vulnerabilities based on their risks. Usually, the priorities are set on the basis of the systems affected, the kind of data at stake, the criticality of business functions, the severity of the attack, damage that can happen because of vulnerability, etc. 

4. Remediation

This is the final step where the vulnerabilities are mitigated. It involves the collaboration and work of developers, testers, and security teams.

Top Vulnerability Assessment Tools

  • Qualys

  • Rapid7

  • Tenable

  • F-Secure

  • Tripwire

  • GFI

  • BreachLock

  • Greenbone

Vulnerability Scoring Systems

The Vulnerability Scoring System is meant to assign a numerical value to the vulnerability based on its severity or risk. Some security teams also use qualitative representation in place of numerical values, such as low, moderate, high, or critical. 

  • Low

  • Moderate

  • High

  • Critical

The role of using scoring systems is to prioritize the vulnerabilities and their management. The scoring is done based on several factors, and it ranges from 0 to 10. 0 is the least severe, and ten is the most severe.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment? | Life Cycle, Solutions & Types of Vulnerability Assessment

Let's understand the concept of vulnerability assessment in ethical hacking, its lifecycle, and much more with this practical video:

What is Vulnerability Scanning in Ethical Hacking?

Vulnerability scanning is the process where some automated tools or programs are used to actively scan the network, app, or systems and identify vulnerabilities as and when they come. 

Generally, the IT teams in a company use vulnerability scanning to prevent the networks and systems from being attacked. When the scanning process finds the vulnerabilities, it classifies them on the basis of critically and the target system, whether it is on networks, computers, or other equipment.  

Like assessment, scanning of vulnerabilities is a vital part. If you know what is ethical hacking, then knowledge of vulnerability scanning and the top tools required is crucial

Top Vulnerability Scanning Tools

1. Nessus

It is one of the most preferred vulnerability scanners. Nessus can be used to perform scanning on operating systems, network devices, web servers, databases, hypervisors, on-premise infrastructure, etc.

This tool can scan misconfigurations in systems, Denials of Service (DoS) vulnerabilities, and loopholes that can lead to unauthorized access to systems or sensitive data. 

2. ZAP Proxy

It is an open-source penetration testing tool to scan and find vulnerabilities in a system, application, or website. Provided by OWASP, the ZAP Proxy tool can help in preventing several types of threats, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, misconfigurations, data breach, broken access control, underprotected APIs, etc.

Countermeasures to Vulnerability Assessment

The intention behind doing a vulnerability assessment is to find the vulnerabilities and their criticalities so that countermeasures can be put in place for further protection. It helps maintain integrity, confidentiality, and data availability.

These practices must be followed as part of countermeasures:

  • Validate every input (length, range, format, and type)

  • Encode output

  • Use strong passwords

  • Encrypt communication

  • Share and store credentials securely

  • Implement authentication mechanism 

Additional countermeasures include the use of virus scanners and antivirus programs, secure multipurpose internet mail extensions, etc.

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