Internal vs external vulnerability scanning explained

Internal vulnerability scan – what is it?

An internal vulnerability scan is a vulnerability assessment that is performed with full access to the network that’s being scanned. Internal vulnerability scans are considered to be more thorough, as they can show the full extent of network vulnerabilities.

What are the benefits of internal vulnerability assessments?

Regular internal vulnerability scans can have many benefits for your business. They give you an opportunity to detect all security vulnerabilities before hackers have a chance to exploit them, plus, they can help you keep track of the patch management process in your networks. Some of the most common vulnerabilities detected during internal scans include missing third-party patches, unpatched known vulnerabilities that carry a high level of risk for your networks and common vulnerabilities that include Heartbleed and DROWN.

Credentialed vs non-credentialed vulnerability scan – which is better?

Credentialed and non-credentialed vulnerability assessments serve different purposes but both of them can be very useful for your business. A credentialed scan gives you information about the network vulnerabilities that an outside attacker can exploit. On the other hand, non-credentialed scans show you what kind of information a rogue in-house attacker can get access to without privileged access.

External vulnerability scan – what is it?

An external vulnerability scan is an assessment that’s performed without access to the network that’s being scanned. External scans target external IP addresses in your network, identify vulnerabilities as well as all the ports that can be accessed from the internet.

Benefits of external vulnerability assessments

Just like an internal scan, external assessments allow you to identify and eventually fix vulnerabilities that can potentially be exploited by attackers. They also help you find any new devices and servers that have been added to the network after the last scan and determine if they pose any threats for your company. The most common external vulnerability assessment findings include the use of unsecured transfer protocols by different services, the use of deprecated services to configure servers, etc.

Frequently asked questions about internal and external vulnerability screening

What is the recommended frequency of internal vulnerability assessments?

The recommended frequency of internal vulnerability scans for your business will depend largely on the scale and type of business. For instance, small companies can get away with less frequent vulnerability assessments than large businesses. That being said, it’s best to conduct these scans at least once a month.

What is the recommended frequency of external vulnerability assessments?

Just like internal scans, external vulnerability assessments should be conducted at least once every month.

What are the best tools for external and internal vulnerability screening?

Some of the most popular applications for vulnerability screening include Tenable, OpenVAS and Qualys.

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    Vitaly is a principal consultant at Hackcontrol as wall as aa business and IT thought leader. He has over 15 years of experience in consulting, account management and is a specialist in cybersecurity.