When it comes to cybersecurity, what you don’t know can hurt you—putting your network and data in jeopardy. That’s why today’s IT departments must be vigilant in identifying and patching network vulnerabilities before they are targeted by cyber attackers.
Here are four key actions you can conduct to assess your network’s risk:
- Strategic security assessment
- Network vulnerability scan
- Penetration test
- Social engineering exercise
Strategic Security Assessment
Your organization should have the proper systems and controls in place to effectively govern your network and safeguard data. After all, strong security policies and procedures are your first line of cybersecurity defense.
A strategic security assessment provides a holistic valuation of your systems to uncover regulatory gaps, reveal inefficiencies, and identify potential process improvements. Such an assessment may include review of practices related to:
- Current security measures
- Regulatory compliance
- Access control
- Network architecture
- Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
- Physical (environmental) security
This comprehensive assessment of your organization’s current security posture provides you with a diagnostic report, including a prioritized list of potential risks and steps for remediation. These results empower leaders to align organizational processes with cybersecurity priorities.
Network Vulnerability Scan
A network vulnerability scan searches your network for susceptibility to attacks by testing against a database of known vulnerabilities. The scan generates a detailed report of identified vulnerabilities—prioritized by risk level—as well as actionable suggestions to reduce exposure.
Penetration testing takes scanning your network to the next level by simulating a real-world cyberattack to uncover critical vulnerabilities and determine if protective controls can be bypassed.
There are two types of penetration tests: internal and external. An internal penetration test simulates an attack carried out by an internal actor—say, for example, a disgruntled employee—attempting to gain unpermitted access to information and systems. An external penetration test fabricates an external attack on your network, systems, and data.
Like the network vulnerability scan, the results of a penetration test enable organizations to identify, prioritize, and begin remediating vulnerabilities before they are found and exploited.
The end users themselves pose the greatest risk to your network security. Recent research has shown that more than 75 percent of people are aware of the risks associated with unknown links but report they click them anyway (Friedrich-Alexander University, 2017).
By clicking on harmful links and applications, end users fall victim to phishing schemes and allow malware and other intrusions to invade and exploit the network. In addition to phishing, other common social engineering threats include phone calls impersonating someone of authority in an attempt to obtain information and mobile storage media (USBs or similar) devices that contain malicious content.
To better educate end users on the ramifications of these cyberattacks, organizations should have training programs and social engineering simulations in place to prepare and inform their user base. Additionally, implementing a reporting system would enable users to report suspicious content before it is opened or circulated.
In increasingly connected learning environments, gambling with cybersecurity could mean compromising critical network availability as well as confidential student data. Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment empowers school districts to prioritize risk and implement data-informed security strategies.
Thinking about evaluating your organization’s security? Contact an ENA account service manager in your area to learn more about ENA’s security assessment services.
ENA’s comprehensive security solutions are specifically designed to protect today’s K–12 schools, higher education institutions, and libraries from crippling and damaging cyberthreats and attacks. ENA’s expert engineers are committed to developing new methods of discovering and mitigating threats in today’s every-changing network security landscape.