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Cybersecurity Assessment: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment Tools and Platforms
Cybersecurity risk assessments play a crucial role in improving the overall security posture of organisations. While third-party consultative engagements are commonly used to conduct risk assessments, they have limitations in terms of scope, cost, and disruption to IT operations. As a result, many businesses are opting to perform their own cybersecurity risk assessments using various software tools and platforms.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of assessment tools and platforms available for organisations to perform their own cybersecurity risk assessments. From vulnerability assessment platforms to breach and attack simulation tools to security ratings, we will cover everything you need to know to choose the right tools for your organisation.
Vulnerability Assessment Platforms
Vulnerability assessment software is designed to continuously scan IT assets to identify security concerns. These platforms can be implemented either on-premise or in the cloud, depending on the organisation’s needs. Some of the leading vulnerability assessment platforms include [Vendor 1], [Vendor 2], and [Vendor 3].
These platforms are primarily used by IT and security technicians and may require resources from those teams or from a managed security services provider (MSSP) to set up, operate, and maintain. However, once implemented, many vulnerability assessment platforms offer simple dashboards and reports to help executives stay up-to-date on their cyber risk profile. Additionally, many of these platforms include built-in scans and workflows for compliance with various regulations.
Vendor-Provided Assessment Tools
When assessing the cyber risk of an IT system, it can be beneficial to break down the system into its component parts and utilise the assessment tools provided by the vendors of those components. For example, Microsoft offers the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser (MBSA), which can be downloaded for free and used to scan Windows and other Microsoft products for vulnerabilities.
While assessing IT components on a manufacturer-by-manufacturer basis may not be quick or easy, it is an inexpensive option, as most providers offer these tools at no cost to their customers. This type of analysis can be extremely valuable as part of a larger cybersecurity risk assessment.
Breach and Attack Simulation Tools
Penetration tests (pen tests) are an important part of comprehensive cybersecurity risk assessments. In these tests, an agent attempts to penetrate the system under controlled conditions, bypass security measures, and gain access to identify vulnerabilities. However, traditional pen tests are expensive and produce only point-in-time results.
To supplement pen tests and provide more continuous risk insights, breach and attack simulation (BAS) tools have emerged in recent years. These tools continuously “attack” systems using automated means informed by the latest threat intelligence. While they cannot replace human pen testers, BAS tools can help fill in the gaps between pen tests and provide a deeper understanding of cybersecurity risk. Leading providers in this space include [Vendor 4] and [Vendor 5].
Security ratings are a data-driven, dynamic measurement of an organisation’s cybersecurity performance. They are derived from objective, verifiable information and created by independent organisations. Security ratings have historically been used to support third-party risk management (TPRM) efforts by determining the security posture of vendors.
However, organisations can also use security ratings to assess their own cybersecurity performance. Providers like BitSight offer security ratings that provide insights into compromised systems, user behaviour, patching, and reported breaches. These ratings combine peer, competitor, and industry performance into their calculations, allowing organisations to compare their performance to top performers or their industry as a whole.
Security ratings offer several advantages over traditional vulnerability assessment tools. They do not require integration into an IT system, making them more convenient to use. Additionally, their continuous monitoring and daily updates allow for a consistently clear and accurate picture of cybersecurity risk.
Choosing the Right Tools
When it comes to choosing the right tools for your organisation’s cybersecurity risk assessments, several factors should be considered. These may include the scope and scale of your organisation’s IT assets, the available resources and expertise within your IT and security teams, compliance requirements, and budgetary constraints.
It is important to select tools that align with your organisation’s specific needs and objectives. Investing in the right assessment tools can significantly enhance your organisation’s cybersecurity posture and provide valuable insights to prioritise remediation efforts.
In conclusion, organisations have various options when it comes to performing their own cybersecurity risk assessments. Whether through vulnerability assessment platforms, vendor-provided assessment tools, breach and attack simulation tools, or security ratings, organisations can choose the tools that best meet their needs and improve their overall cybersecurity posture. By utilising these tools, organisations can maintain a consistently clear and accurate picture of cybersecurity risk and ensure that their remediation efforts are effective in mitigating threats.