The purpose of this blog article is cover some of the vulnerability scanning frequency best practices. Organizations face many challenges when it comes to implementing a robust security plan to protect their network and vulnerability scanning frequency is one of those hurdles. What do you scan and how often? How at risk is your business? Read on to find an answer to this question.
What Is the Recommended Frequency for Vulnerability Scans?
This depends on many factors but a few factors to consider when determining how often to perform vulnerability scans:
- Are you in a high-risk industry such as healthcare?
- Are there industry regulations requiring scans to be performed at set intervals?
- Has your organization been the target of previous cyber-attacks?
Many businesses prioritize vulnerability scanning either monthly or quarterly. Organizations with a higher risk profile may scan more frequently such as weekly, or even perform continuous vulnerability assessments to help with their vulnerability management. With new vulnerabilities popping up all the time protecting mission critical assets can be a challenge if you choose less frequent scanning intervals.
5 Best Practices for Vulnerability Scan Frequency
Establish a regular scanning schedule based on the risk profile of your organization and any industry regulations you need to adhere to. For instance, if you process customer credit card information you will have to provide clean vulnerability scan results to obtain an attestation at least quarterly to maintain PCI DSS compliance. It's important to be aware of any industry regulations that may apply to your organization and ensure that vulnerability scans are conducted in compliance with these regulations.
Combine automated scheduled scans with manual verification of high severity vulnerabilities at least every other scan. Automated scans are great but there can sometimes be false positives in the results, and if the results are not manually investigated you may end up wasting time and resources fixing something that wasn’t an issue to begin with. You can use any number of tools to manually check the listed vulnerabilities to see if they really are an issue or not.
Conduct vulnerability scanning after major system changes or security incidents. Adding new devices to your network, or switching to a different software package, may introduce new vulnerabilities into your environment. And if you've recently detected any concerning security incidents waiting for your next scheduled scan may not be the best move.
Conduct fully authenticated scans at least quarterly to identify vulnerabilities that can only be detected with administrative credentials. Vulnerability scanners are subject to permissions just like users, and if they can't see or access vulnerable resources, they can't detect vulnerabilities in them.
Perform a full-blown penetration test at least annually. This will allow your organization to uncover more nuanced vulnerabilities than an attacker may be able to find and exploit, but that an automated scanner may miss.
In conclusion, vulnerability scan frequency should be determined based on an organization's risk profile, industry regulations, and other factors. Regular scans should be scheduled, with continuous scanning considered for organizations that require real-time vulnerability monitoring. By prioritizing remediation efforts and staying up to date with emerging threats, along with regular vulnerability scanning, organizations can protect their systems and data from potential security weaknesses.