Vulnerability scanners should be used in conjunction with third party cybersecurity expertise to confirm the scan identified major vulnerabilities and clarify results for organizations.

Can you proactively secure your network with vulnerability scanners? 

Can you proactively secure your network with vulnerability scanners? 

39 Cybersecurity experts, including Zelvin Security’s President, Jeff Atkinson, took to LinkedIn to address the effectiveness of vulnerability scanners to proactively protect your network.  

What is a vulnerability scanner? 

These are software applications that scan a network for known vulnerabilities. These include software that isn’t up to date, weak passwords, and misconfigurations. 

Consider vulnerability scanners as the custodians of your digital landscape, conducting a thorough cleaning. Just as you want custodians to spot and address a mess before it accumulates, these scanners are designed to pinpoint weaknesses in your environment. Vulnerability detection is a pivotal stage when developing a comprehensive security strategy

Following a scan, you’ll likely be presented with an extensive checklist of issues. Not every item on the list demands an urgent response; some are comparable to dusting, while others are a “major cleanup on aisle 4.” This is where prioritization based on risk factors comes into play. The scan results help you discern which vulnerabilities warrant immediate attention and which ones can be addressed at a steady pace. We’re very familiar with this process at Zelvin Security!  

The Q&A session below is useful to your board room discussions on cybersecurity and planning the best route for your organization! 

Here are the questions posed by AI and LinkedIn Community, followed by Atkinson’s commentary on each. 

Q: How do vulnerability scanners work? 

A: Vulnerability scanners are configured according to the scope, goals, and environment the testing tool will run by a security professional. Then, most vulnerability tools utilize a proof-of-concept (PoC) approach. This means the tool uses an automated approach to compare the tested environment against the known vulnerabilities in the space, and if there is a known security risk, the scanner notifies the security professional of its findings. The tools do not exploit or attempt to go deeper into the root issue of the finding. It simply raises a flag and provides notification that there is a potential risk present. The scan results can provide false positive findings and will not uncover all security flaws within a scanned environment.

Q: How can vulnerability scanners help you improve your network security? 

A: Security Professionals utilizing a vulnerability scanning tool to uncover known risks saves time. Running them on a constant or periodic basis to maintain visibility into missing patches, outdated software, and other types of published security issues. Scanning is a great way to stay informed of well-known vulnerabilities. Having an action plan when a vulnerability is identified is the key to maximizing the value of these tools. We highly recommend it, although just as every cybersecurity tool, it is not a silver bullet. An organization’s cybersecurity fundamentals such as penetration testing, asset & patch management, monitoring, policies, and procedures are still the key in this ever-evolving technology landscape.

Q: How can you use vulnerability scanners effectively and efficiently? 

A: It is likely you’ve noticed scanning tools on the market claim how many issues they can find; in turn, this results in a massive report which makes it difficult to address all the identified risks in a timely manner. Also, keep in mind, scanning tools can include false positive results, which can be confusing to an inexperienced security professional. To overcome the overwhelming results of the scanning tool we recommend using a third-party security professional who is experienced in digesting the scanner results. This professional can give you tricks and tips to configure the scans to reduce false positives, help you correlate findings to reduce remediation steps, and save you time parsing the scanned data into a more digestible format.

What next?

Atkinson’s responses highlight the importance of having a well-defined action plan after vulnerabilities are identified, emphasizing that vulnerability scanners are not a one size fits all solution. They are a vital component within a larger cybersecurity framework, including penetration testing, M365 assessments, strong cybersecurity policies, etc. In fact, no cybersecurity solution is perfect for every organization while accounting for budget, risk level, and resources.  

The efficiency of using vulnerability scanners involves navigating the false positives and overwhelming reports that may occur. Jeff advises leveraging the expertise of third-party cybersecurity professionals to streamline the process, deliver clear and prioritized results, and implementing an action plan. Cyber threats aren’t going away anytime soon, so consider your options for a layered defense strategy. Vulnerability scanners are useful, but not your absolute best line of defense. 

If you need guidance on the best cybersecurity plan for your organization, schedule a complimentary consultation with our team. We’re here to support you along the way to strong cyber defenses! 

(865) 321-1970  


This blog was contributed to by Jeffory Atkinson, President at Zelvin Security with over 20 years professional experience in various cybersecurity roles.  

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