Home security is a no-brainer. We buy top-of-the-line security systems that sync up with our phones and have cameras and alarms. We install outdoor motion sensor lights, get a dog, and keep the bushes trimmed back, eliminating hiding spots. In the same way, you’ll want to protect your digital space.
As a cybersecurity manager or similar, your job is to ensure your network firewalls don’t have holes in them—holes that contribute to the constantly rising cost of cybercrime. Experts predict that cybercrime will be a $10.5 trillion issue by 2025.
One solution? Familiarizing yourself with internal vs. external vulnerability scanning, which helps you identify holes in your network—both inside the business and out—and allows you to stay at the forefront of any data security problems. After all, it’s your role to prevent these breaches, which can result in stolen money, destruction of data, theft of personal data, and so much more.
Let’s compare the two, highlighting why your company needs both.
First, What Is a Firewall Vulnerability?
In other words, what are we scanning for here?
A firewall vulnerability is defined as follows:
- An error made during firewall design, implementation, or configuration, that can be exploited to attack the trusted network that the firewall is supposed to protect
This definition highlights the enormity of the concern. Errors can be made in any stage—designing, executing, structuring. Each individual vulnerability has its own cause, effect on the system, and fix.
Some of the most common vulnerability causes include domain errors, authorization errors, code execution, incorrect or weak design, and more. To put it simply, vulnerability can come from several different places and manifest itself in a variety of ways, prompting a unique problem (and fix) for each.
What Is Internal Vulnerability Scanning?
When you consider an external vs. internal vulnerability scan, you might place more precedence on external scans. After all, the threats typically come from the outside, right? With that being said, wouldn’t external scans be more important? Not necessarily.
For one, internal vulnerability scans tend to reveal more information, as they assess the entire network, which IT support will have access to during the scan. An internal scan allows one to see where things are weak and unprotected from the inside. These same holes are exactly what hackers would look for when attempting to breach your network.
So, before a hacker can exploit those holes, you’ve identified them and then patched them. In this way, internal vulnerability scanning is one of the most important cybersecurity strategies one can perform.
You’re not only protecting your network from outside hackers, though. In rare circumstances, data breaches can happen from within the company. During an internal scan, you’ll be able to see the network from an employee’s perspective, again being able to identify any holes ready to be exploited.
How often should you run vulnerability scans? That depends—but most experts suggest no less than once every quarter. As your vulnerabilities change, so do hackers’ insights into your system. If you’re constantly updating your system or adding information, you might need to identify potential threats more often.
What Is External Vulnerability Scanning?
While internal vulnerability scanning has much to reveal, external vulnerability scanning is of utmost importance, too. This is when IT support sees your system as malicious hackers (or anyone on the internet) would. When they look at your network, your website, what potential holes do they notice?
This outsider’s perspective has its benefits. Before a hacker ever makes their way inside your system, what are they working with? Are you giving them chances to exploit your company without even realizing it?
Tightening up from the outside in—like an onion with layers upon layers of security—is a fantastic method, as it addresses your website or network from a viewpoint that everyone has access to. Whatever ports can be accessed from the internet will be identified in an external scan, allowing you to see points of interest for hackers.
So, while internal scanning does allow for a more in-depth review of one’s data security, external scanning allows you to identify pain points that could be obvious to anyone, from the seasoned hacker to the novice.
Like internal scanning, external scanning should be done often—at least once a quarter. After all, it only takes one small design flaw to let a hacker exploit your entire company. Being proactive is one of the only ways to protect your network, especially considering that cybercriminals have access to similar scanning tools.
Learn the Difference Between Internal vs. External Vulnerability Scanning
Then, use that information to double down on your cybersecurity tactics, protecting your company from lost productivity, time, money, data, and more.
As this article proves, vulnerabilities can be anywhere. It doesn’t pay to protect your company from external issues if the problems are all internal, and vise versa. A well-rounded approach considers both internal vs. external vulnerability scanning—and ensures that neither space is showing holes.
One of your cybersecurity strategies should be speaking with IT support to ensure that no vulnerability goes undetected. The money you’ll spend on cybersecurity now is nothing compared to the amount that could be lost in a breach. If you’ve already run your own scans, there’s no harm in redundancy (and in fact, it’s recommended).