Your Guide to Network Security Assessments

A network security assessment is an audit or cyber security audit used to identify any potential security threats or vulnerabilities within an organisation’s IT network. But does your business need one and if so, can you carry it out yourself? In this article we will go over everything you need to know about a Network Security Assessment.

About Mintivo: We deliver robust security solutions and consultancy tailored to the diverse needs of companies spanning varied sectors, including defence, charities, financial services, and manufacturing. Learn how we can support you with a technical advantage through IT through our managed cyber security services, email security services, endpoint security management for mobile devices and so much more.

Why does my business need a network security assessment?

39% of UK businesses have reported that they have suffered a cyber-attack in 2022, and this can cost a business on average £19,400. It is essential to carry out a network security assessment in order to take steps to mitigate risks from these threats and to help improve the overall security of an IT network.

Certain organisations also have a regulatory responsibility to carry out a network security assessment in order to comply with security standards.

A network security assessment can tell you:

  • What the overall impact of a cyber attack could be.
  • What systems are likely to be compromised.
  • What sensitive data or identifiable information could be exposed in a data breach or leak.
  • What you can do to protect yourself from a cyber attack.

Types of network security assessments

There are two different types of network security assessments; vulnerability assessments and penetration tests.

1. A vulnerability assessment shows an organisation where their weaknesses are.
2. A penetration test is designed to replicate a cyber attack.

How do I carry out a network security assessment?

1. Identify and document your assets

This includes all networks, devices, data, and other assets. Therefore if you were to ever endure a cyber attack, it will be easier for you to trace it.

2. Determine the value of your assets

Once you have a clear and comprehensive list of your assets, you’ll be able to start identifying what value they hold. This will in turn allow you to secure your most valuable and business-critical assets first. Things to consider when determining the value of your assets are:

  • How much would it cost the business if we were to lose this information?
  • How could our business reputation be affected if this information was to be leaked?
  • Are there any financial or legal penalties associated with losing this information?
  • Would losing this data have a detrimental effect on the day-to-day running of the business?

3. Assess the vulnerabilities of your assets

Vulnerabilities are anything that can be exploited within your network. Cybersecurity risks can come from both inside and outside of your organisation so it’s important to implement a security risk assessment that includes:

Third Party Review: A review of all third-parties and their level of access to your networks and assets.

Network Scanning: A comprehensive scan of your wireless networks, network services (HTTP, SMTP, etc.), and Wi-Fi.

Information Security Policy Review: A review of employee policies including BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), cybersecurity training, and email usage

Internal weaknesses: A review of your weaknesses within your organisation, usually conducted by a third-party consultant.

4. Test your defences

Once you have a clear picture of your organisations vulnerabilities, the next step is to actively test your defences by conducting a penetration test. This will show how easy it is to compromise your network.

5. Document and improve your weaknesses

Make a list of any weaknesses and threats you have found in your network and make a plan on how to secure them.

6. Continuously monitor your security for any changes

Cybersecurity threats and attacks are constantly changing and becoming more sophisticated, so it’s important to be consistent with reviewing your risks to keep your organisation as safe as possible.

How to improve your network security

Once you understand the areas in which your company IT network is potentially exposed, Mintivo can work with you to create a Cyber Security roadmap to address any issues discovered. Our Cyber Risks & Recommendations report can cover everything from Vulnerability Scanning to Penetration Testing, 360 degree health checks and securing websites.

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