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Vulnerability Analysis

In today’s world, organizations depend heavily on information technology for protecting vital information. This information is associated with areas of finance, research and development, personnel, legality, and security. Vulnerability assessments scan networks for known security weaknesses. Attackers perform vulnerability analysis to identify security loopholes in the target organization’s network, communication infrastructure, and end systems. The identified vulnerabilities are used by attackers to further exploit that target network. Vulnerability assessment plays a major role in providing security to any organization’s resources and infrastructure from various internal and external threats. To secure a network, an administrator needs to perform patch management, install proper antivirus software, check configurations, solve known issues in third-party applications, and troubleshoot hardware with default configurations. All these activities together constitute a vulnerability assessment.

This module starts with an introduction to vulnerability assessment concepts. It also discusses the various vulnerability scoring systems, vulnerability databases, vulnerability management life cycle, and various approaches and tools used to perform vulnerability assessments. This module will provide knowledge about the tools and techniques used by attackers to perform a quality vulnerability analysis. It concludes with an analysis of the vulnerability assessment reports that help an ethical hacker to fix the identified vulnerabilities.

At the end of this module, you will be able to: o Understand vulnerability research, vulnerability assessment, and vulnerability scoring systems o Describe the vulnerability management life cycle (vulnerability assessment phases) o Understand various types of vulnerabilities and vulnerability assessment techniques o Understand different approaches to vulnerability assessment solutions o Describe different characteristics of good vulnerability assessment solutions o Explain different types of vulnerability assessment tools and the criteria for choosing them o Use various vulnerability assessment tools o Generate and analyze vulnerability assessment reports

Vulnerability Assessment Concepts

There are generally two main causes for vulnerable systems in a network, software or hardware misconfiguration and poor programming practices. Attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to perform various types of attacks on organizational resources. This section gives an overview of vulnerability assessment, vulnerability scoring systems, vulnerability databases, and the vulnerability assessment life cycle.

Vulnerability Research

Vulnerability research is the process of analyzing protocols, services, and configurations to discover the vulnerabilities and design flaws that will expose an operating system and its applications to exploit attack or misuse. An administrator needs vulnerability research:

 To gather information about security trends, newly discovered threats, attack surfaces, attack vectors, and techniques

 To find weaknesses in the OS and applications and alert the network administrator before a network attack

 To understand information that helps prevent security problems

 To know how to recover from a network attack

An ethical hacker needs to keep up with the most recently discovered vulnerabilities and exploits to stay one step ahead of attackers through vulnerability research, which includes:

 Discovering the system design faults and weaknesses that might allow attackers to compromise a system

 Staying updated about new products and technologies and reading news related to current exploits

 Checking underground hacking websites (Deep and Dark websites) for newly discovered vulnerabilities and exploits

 Checking newly released alerts regarding relevant innovations and product improvements for security systems

Security experts and vulnerability scanners classify vulnerabilities by:

 A severity level (low, medium, or high)

 Exploit range (local or remote)

Ethical hackers need to conduct intense research with the help of information acquired in the footprinting and scanning phases to find vulnerabilities.

Resources for Vulnerability Research

The following are some of the online websites used to perform vulnerability research:

 Microsoft Vulnerability Research (MSVR) (

 Dark Reading (

 Security Tracker (

 Trend Micro (

 Security Magazine (

 PenTest Magazine (

 SC Magazine (

 Exploit Database (

 Security Focus (

 Help Net Security (

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