Taking the initiative to invest in cybersecurity and improve employee security awareness is vital for defending a business from cyber-attacks. Re-evaluating your efforts on occasion may be necessary to make sure security measures are effective. Vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and red team exercises are three types of tests that businesses can use to assess their cybersecurity.

Vulnerability Scans

Vulnerability scans and assessments use automated tools to identify cyber weaknesses. They’re typically used to find known or common vulnerabilities, such as those used in past breaches and those that provide paths of least resistance for attackers trying to enter the network. Vulnerability scans are most useful for small and mid-sized organizations with limited cybersecurity resources.

Penetration Tests

Penetration tests are simulated attacks that use information acquired from vulnerability scans in an effort to access or penetrate the enterprise network. When a penetration test occurs, enterprises and security professionals may or may not know of the test in advance. Penetration tests can be performed by internal staff or external vendors. They’re most beneficial for organizations of medium maturity looking to uncover gaps in security.

Red Team Exercises

When using a red team to assess security, employees assume the exercise is a real-life situation and do not know about it in advance. Red team exercises help organizations gauge realistic responses to attempted attacks by mimicking attackers and attempting to break into the organization in any way possible. Mature organizations with specialized cybersecurity skills would benefit most from red teaming exercises, which can uncover security gaps both inside and outside of the network. Red team exercises can be conducted by internal staff or by external vendors.

Once an organization identifies which type of testing is appropriate, it should also assess the frequency of the testing. Ultimately, every new or updated technology should be subjected to thorough testing to detect and address new vulnerabilities before outside attackers find them.