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Conducting Threat and Vulnerability Analysis

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Cyber threats and vulnerabilities are a pressing global problem. Cybersecurity has emerged as a key priority for many organizations. Organizations are continuously bombarded with increased cyber threats and their impact, which significantly increases their need to know the level and the type of vulnerability the organization faces. Cyber threat analysis helps organizations understand what threats are more severe, where they originate, and who might be behind them.

Cyber threat analysis aims to look at the information available on a target organization, its vulnerabilities, and its responses to improve or eliminate threats. Cyber threat analysis matches information about vulnerabilities in an organization's network against real-world cyber threats. It also provides information about how external threats would harm the organization in the cyber world.


What Are Cyber Threat and Vulnerability Analysis?

Cyber threat and vulnerability analysis are the processes of defining, assessing, and prioritizing the potential threats that an organization could face. It is also a process of systematically identifying and evaluating the vulnerabilities that could expose an organization to those threats. Cyber threat analysis systematically establishes the nature of real-world cyber threats and vulnerabilities an organization faces to determine how it can effectively protect its information assets. The goal is to identify countermeasures most appropriate for this particular case.


What do Asset and Cyber risks mean?

An asset is any resource that has value to an organization. This asset includes User hardware (workstations/PCs), Servers, Specialized devices, Network devices (hubs, switches, routers, OAM&P), Software (OS, utilities, client programs), Services (applications, IP services), and Data (local/remote, stored, archived, databases, data in transit). Risk is the probability that an adverse activity will occur and the consequence. It's the potential for an asset's loss, damage, or destruction when a threat takes advantage of a vulnerability. Cyber risk tells how vulnerable an asset is to a cyber-attack. To determine your cyber risk, you must understand the types of threats out there and know your vulnerabilities.


Threat actors can potentially steal or damage data, disrupt business, or create harm in general. To keep that from happening, you need to recognize the three general threats that exist. Below are the categories.

Intentional Threats: Things like malware, ransomware, phishing, malicious code, and wrongfully accessing user login credentials are all examples of intentional threats. Bad actors use activities or methods to compromise a security or software system.


Unintentional Threats: Unintentional threats are often attributed to human error. They can come in the form of poor configuration and management. These mistakes are often accidental, but they can also be deliberate. The most common unintentional threats are inadvertent data breaches, accidental disclosure of sensitive information, and misuse of authentication credentials.


Natural Threats: Acts of nature (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) aren't typically connected to cybersecurity, but they're still unpredictable in some respects and can cause damage to your assets.


Vulnerability refers to a weakness in your hardware, software, or procedures. It's a gap through which a bad actor can gain access to your assets. In other words, threats exploit vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is a threat that can lead to an impact and is a consequence of exposure. An effective vulnerability management program identifies, assesses, and remediates vulnerabilities.


Cyber risk is the intersection of assets, threats, and vulnerabilities. To manage cyber risk, an organization needs to know the cyber risk profile of its organization and understand how effective its current cybersecurity countermeasures are at mitigating it. This is where cyber threat and vulnerability analysis comes in.


How to Perform Cyber Threat and Vulnerability Analysis

Cyber threat and vulnerability analyses help security specialists know how susceptible their organization is to attack. The following are the ways to perform cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.


Determine the Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities

Requirement: The first step is recognizing what you're trying to protect. Determine the assets, threats, and vulnerabilities your organization needs to account for.


Process: First, determine your environment's assets and how they're used. Identify the threats that can exploit vulnerabilities and cause harm. Consider the potential harm an attack or breach can cause an asset and any legal or regulatory implications of a breach.

The CSIRT will use the information it gathers to identify and prioritize the threats in your environment. It will also review your current security controls and determine if they can help mitigate risk. This Analysis will highlight any gaps between your security goals and capabilities.


Tools: Vulnerability scanners, network discovery tools, network mapping tools, asset management systems, threat intelligence feeds, and anti-malware systems are some software used for cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.

Tasks: Keep track of discovered assets and vulnerabilities.


Results: You will get a list of your network's assets, threats, and vulnerabilities.


Identify the Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities to Your Organization

Requirement: The second step is determining what assets your organization may be exposed to.


Process: This includes researching the types of threats and vulnerabilities that could cause harm. You must understand your environment so you know where there's a gap between current controls and your security goals. You should also identify how current controls could help mitigate risk.


Tools: Vulnerability scanners, malware analysis tools, biometric sensors, and intrusion detection systems are some of the software used for cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.


Tasks: Keep track of the cyber threats and vulnerabilities you've discovered. This includes any new threats.

Results: You will get a list of the assets, threats, and vulnerabilities to your organization.


Identify Your Cyber Risk Profiles

Requirement: The third step is determining your organization's cyber risk profile. Your company can be exposed to different risks, depending on its industry or business model. Identify how your organization is at risk.


Process: Knowing your risks can help you prioritize your investments and resources. It will help you decide where to protect and what countermeasures to deploy. Doing regular risk assessments is necessary for determining the success of your overall risk management program.


Tools: Cyber risk assessment software, vulnerability scanners, and vulnerability management tools are some software used for cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.


Tasks: Determine how your organization is at risk and any legal or regulatory implications of risks an attack could have on your company.


Results: You will get a list of the assets, threats, and vulnerabilities of your organization.


Prioritize Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities

Requirement: The fourth step is prioritizing your collected data. This helps you determine where to focus efforts for protection. Prioritizing threats and vulnerabilities helps you manage the security program throughout its lifecycle.


Process: The data gathered helps you determine what threats and vulnerabilities need to be fixed first. Cyber threat and vulnerability analysis help identify the gap between your security goals and capabilities.


Tools: Risk management and network discovery tools are some software used for cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.


Tasks: Determine which assets, threats, or vulnerabilities are most important to close based on risk level and cost-benefit. 


Results: You will get a prioritized list of vulnerabilities, threats, and assets.


Prepare A Response Document

Requirement: The fifth step is to prepare a response plan that describes how you will respond to the vulnerabilities or threats. A response plan outlines your organization's defense-in-depth strategy and defines the procedures for addressing vulnerabilities or threats. It's a method for responding to cyber risks, which helps companies prevent attacks.


Process: Cyber threat and vulnerability analysis should result in a response plan. The measures in your response plan should include an actionable item that can be evaluated when you do the next assessment


Tools: Vulnerability scanners and asset management systems are some software used for cyber threat and vulnerability analysis.


Tasks: Create procedures that document how you will respond to threats and vulnerabilities


Results: You will get a response plan and know how to improve your organization's cybersecurity countermeasures by doing regular assessments.


Cyber threats and vulnerability analysis are effective tools for preventing cyber attacks. It helps you understand the current state of your network so that you know how to protect yourself against cyber threats. It will identify vulnerabilities, threats, and assets that can be targets of cyber-attacks. The process of identifying and prioritizing the data you've gathered is what helps you determine where to focus your efforts for protection. It also allows you to develop plans to address the vulnerabilities or threats you've discovered. Cyber threat and vulnerability analysis should also result in a response plan that shows how your organization will respond to these threats or vulnerabilities. Performing regular assessments helps you know what countermeasures to use in your defense-in-depth strategy.

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