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September 5th, 2019

How to Do Vulnerability Software Testing and Why You Should

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Vulnerability software testing involves scanning an application, operating system or network to determine its weak spots. If you haven’t done it before, consider getting started. Here are some tips to help.

1. Choose Automated or Manual Testing — and Research the Right Tools

Finding the problems in your system can happen manually or through automation. Many companies find that an automated approach is more cost-efficient, plus less labor-intensive. Manual testing may require a team working solely to uncover problems over weeks or months. 

One of the things to keep in mind about automated testing, though, is that it could flag false positives or not recognize genuine issues. Once you decide whether to use manual tools or automated ones, read reviews and carry out other research to figure out which options best meet your needs. 

The three main types of vulnerability software testing are host-based, network-based and those that screen for database flaws. Consider which one is most appropriate for your company’s needs, then learn about the tools and brands available. 

2. Do a Business Impact Analysis for Each Vulnerability

When your business identifies problems during vulnerability software testing, it’s essential to determine the overall impact each issue would have if it became a reality. The standard way to do that is to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA). It helps businesses figure out how a problem would impact them. 

A thorough BIA takes into account things like the perceived disruption to business operations, along with the financial losses associated with incident recovery. The total impact also goes up depending on the extent of the issue. 

For example, a weakness that allows a hacker to take down a whole website for several hours is costly and damaging. On the other hand, a problem related to an app that does not generate income or collect sensitive data will not cause major issues.

3. Create a Ranking System for the Vulnerabilities

Once vulnerability software testing shows companies the problems they face, the next step is to rank them. You can do that by either listing each one according to the severity level or the steps required for remediation. Then, it’s easier to assess which problems to tackle first. Applying such a categorization strategy enables companies to take a detailed look at the shortcomings, then strategically use their resources to resolve them. 

If you don’t prioritize the problems, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or start tackling the least-important issues before addressing the substantially larger ones. Moreover, using a ranking method gives security teams a sense of accomplishment because it helps them keep track of what they’ve done and what’s left. 

4. Make a Process for Dealing With Warnings From External Parties

Many companies initially become aware of security flaws not through internal testing, but when independent researchers contact them and share their findings. Unfortunately, businesses often don’t take the information seriously or don’t have processes for investigating the matters. Some even threaten to take legal action against the security pros that divulge what they find. 

Besides continually improving the internal processes brands use to conduct vulnerability software testing, enterprises should iron out their methods for checking into the problems outside parties bring to light. Otherwise, a company could earn a reputation defined by carelessness. In other cases, security problems remind the public that many apps they use daily are not as secure as they thought. 

For example, NowSecure performed a study that showed 25% of Android apps had high-risk security flaws. Even worse, the likelihood of problems remained substantial for even the most popular apps. NowSecure’s data showed that half of the apps in the 5-10 million downloads range were vulnerable. 

5. Strike a Balance Between Deploying Patches Promptly and After Thorough Testing

A common way companies fix problems is to issue patches. That’s a valid solution, but one that could cause unforeseen issues if you don’t also take the time to test the fixes. Research from Tripwire showed that almost half of the IT professionals surveyed deployed software patches within a week.

If your company sets a similar metric while making goals, consider testing time, too. Patches sometimes cause other issues while fixing the one they intend to prevent. However, leaving a vulnerability unpatched for too long because of evaluations could increase opportunities for hackers to exploit flaws. That’s why it’s best to be aware of both time and testing concerns regarding patches. 

A Necessary Part of Your Operations

Vulnerability software testing takes time and effort but ignoring it could harm your business’s profits, public image and more. The tips here can help you implement a reliable process while avoiding preventable pitfalls.




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