Vulnerability assessments are organized checklists of existing or potential weaknesses in a system that could cause harm to the company or the employees (source). If you’re not a financial institution or high-security firm of some type, it can be difficult to understand the need for this type of assessment. But if your employees use any type of company communications system or online training, it can be just as important for you to learn about protection.
For example, many companies are now using online safety training. With online materials comes a new concern for information security. Chances are you pay for the training materials you use, so you don’t want just anyone accessing them for free, do you? A vulnerability assessment, whether small- or large-scale, can help you to protect what’s yours and create an overall more secure system for all of your digital information and communications.
Responding to Assessment Results
After you’ve performed a vulnerability assessment, you need to evaluate your weak points and figure out what kinds of things you can do to strengthen your security.
Depending on where you’re starting out, you may need to create or alter employee login procedures. If your online safety training isn’t protected by a login, it’s probably available for the world to see. If shared logins are used, former employees likely still have access. Just as you wouldn’t want former employees disabling your door alarm with a shared passcode, you don’t want nonemployees viewing or downloading your documentation or training materials.
Your employees need to be on the same page with these regulations, so you’ll need to communicate this with them. Have a meeting to discuss your new or updated procedures, and explain to them the importance of keeping passwords private. Outline why privacy matters to your company.
Benefits of an Assessment
So what kinds of vulnerabilities are we talking about?
As a company, you want to keep your corporate information private. On a very basic level, the sharing of information, whether through an email system or an online portal, should be password-protected. Each employee with access should have unique login credentials to access company-owned resources like training materials.
By providing individual access to company materials, your IT team can ensure that access is restricted to only currently authorized employees. In order for this system to remain successful, employees must be on board with your security and confidentiality protocols. This means that login information should never be shared with anyone and passwords should be routinely updated.
Beyond the basic step of login security, it’s also important to monitor the content that is being shared. Sensitive information should never be shared via email or saved on non-company-approved devices. You work hard to set up your company and its assets, so make sure you preserve what’s yours.
Keep management and employees alike informed of these policies and expectations to reduce vulnerabilities and keep your content private.
Arranging an Assessment
A vulnerability assessment doesn’t have to be a formal process completed by a third party, but it can be helpful to get an outside perspective on your current setup.
If you’re working on it internally, you’ll need to provide this person with a few things:
Goals: what you hope to achieve or improve
Concerns: current or future issues that you want to resolve or avoid
Current measures: what you already do to ensure security
Three things that are important to keep in mind throughout the process:
Be thorough. Changing one aspect of your online content or security measures won’t be very successful if you don't make all of the necessary changes.
Communicate with everyone. Without a team effort, security measures don’t work.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It might take some time to make the necessary changes, and it might take even longer for employees to adjust to new routines, but consistency and persistence will pay off if you’re determined.
Whether you’re just getting into digital communications with your employees or you’ve had an employee training portal set up for years, it never hurts to assess your vulnerabilities and improve your overall security.