What Is Vulnerability Assessment: An Informative Guide (2021)

Ajay Ohri


It is the process of identifying, quantifying, and ranking the vulnerabilities in a system. Such assessments are conducted for various business organizations, including transportation systems, information technology, communication systems, and energy and water supply systems. It is also considered to be an orderly review of vulnerabilities insecurity in an IS.

A comprehensive vulnerability assessment and a management program can assist the companies in enhancing their system’s security. It points out to an organization about the areas where its security control systems are lagging. It also provides guidance on how to assess the risks associated with those vulnerabilities. This provides enhanced safety and security to the entity’s assets, data, and overall risk, thus reducing the possibilities of any cyberattack on the business.

  1. Vulnerability Assessment:  Security Scanning Process
  2. Vulnerability Assessment Tools
  3. Vulnerability Assessment and WAF

1. Vulnerability Assessment:  Security Scanning Process

The security scanning process consists of several steps that are crucial in identifying and assessing vulnerabilities. 

1. Vulnerability Identification

The core objective of this step is to draft a broad list of an application’s vulnerabilities. In order to identify security weak points, the analysts also use vulnerability databases, vendor vulnerability announcements, threat intelligence feed, and asset management system.

Security Analysts, on the other hand, test the application’s health, servers, and other systems by scanning them with tools that are automated. 

2. Analysis

Here, the objective lies in identifying the root cause or of the vulnerabilities’ source identified in the first step. For example, an old version of an open-sourced library could be the root cause of vulnerability, and the best possible solution could be to upgrade such a library.

3. Risk Assessment

It involves prioritizing or ranking all the vulnerabilities identified and analyzed based on their degree of risks and severity involved. Some of the important factors involved in this step consist of identifying and reporting-

  • Systems that have been exposed to such risks,
  • Data type which is exposed to such risk,
  • Business functions that are at risk,
  • Potential attacks/ compromise,
  • Potential damages caused and their effects,
  • Degree or an attack’s severity.

4. Remediation

It’s typically a joint effort by the security staff team, development and operations team. The objective of this step involves closing the gaps between security systems. It includes-

  • Introduction of state-of-the-art procedures, measures, or tools in relation to security.
  • Updating the configurations and making broad changes in everyday operations.
  • Developing and Implementing a patch for the vulnerability.

2. Vulnerability Assessment Tools

They are designed to automatically scan for new and existing threats that can target and make your application systems vulnerable. Many vulnerability scanners are available in today’s digital market, and most of them are free, paid, or open-source. Factors that decide the choice of tool selection include vulnerability type, frequency of updates, and total budget. The main types of vulnerability assessment tools include-

  • Web Application Scanners
  • Network Scanners
  • Protocol Scanners

1. Intruder

Since it has the ability to manage many devices at a time, it is thus, suitable for enterprise-level vulnerability scanning. It can monitor cloud storage, help identify network vulnerabilities, and provide quality suggestions and reports. 

2. Aircrack

Also known as Aircrack – NG, it includes tools used to assess Wi-Fi network security. It allows the user to regain the lost keys by capturing the data packets. It supports various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Solaris, Net BSD, and many more.

3. Retina CS Community 

It is an open-source web console that enables the enterprise to make a more centralized and straightforward vulnerability system. Some of its significant features include patching, reporting, configuration compliance, etc. 

4. Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

It is one of the best tools available in the market to update your system with all the latest updates on your PC. It is a 100% free vulnerability scanner provided by MSFT. It has several important features including scanning your network service packets, checking for windows updates, checking for security updates, and more.  

5. Nikto 2

It is an open-source vulnerability scanning software that focuses primarily on web application security. It can detect around 6,700 hazardous files causing issues to the web servers. It can also provide timely alerts on server configuration issues and perform web server scans. 

3. Vulnerability Assessment and WAF

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) refer to the devices which are used to control, monitor, and regulate website traffic. WAFs are similar to network firewalls which are mainly applied to ports, protocols, and IP addresses. Inspecting traffics in HTTP and regulating the data within headers, URL parameters, and web content are some of the main functions of WAFs. They also help to provide protection to insecure hosts from being exploited remotely. Hackers may target vulnerable websites, but their attacks are intercepted and declined before they reach the custom web application code. 

At their core, WAFs are designed so as to separate malicious traffic from safe web traffic. Even if any cyber attack crawls past the WAF, it still has the capability to prevent hackers from accessing the sensitive information of the company. The WAFs have three distinct features-

  • Policies
  • Policy Generation
  • Policy Implementation

Vulnerability Assessment guides WAF by bringing to its notice the areas in the website which are vulnerable to cyber attacks in order to enhance WAF’s focus area and also devise more clearly structured policies as a whole. When any request is made on the website, the WAFs has these three options- 


When there is a lack of sufficient information, permit-all is the only feasible option.

When there is little information known, permitting in default mode is the feasible option.

When every information is known, a decision has to be taken between the above two options.


No matter which type of vulnerability tool you choose to incorporate for your enterprise, choosing the most typical one will depend on security systems and the ability to analyze the enterprise’s system requirements. So, care should be taken to identify and deal with vulnerabilities as soon as possible. To conclude, “Vulnerability Scanning” makes the only path available to the bad guys “disappear”. Thus, securing and storing all the data, information, and resources of an organization in the most relevant and reliable manner to be accessed anytime in the future.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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