Vulnerability Assessment Services: 8 Things to Know When Choosing a Cybersecurity Firm

Vulnerability Assessment Services

Businesses that want to bolster their cybersecurity and prevent attacks rely on many tactics. One of the most critical is conducting regular vulnerability assessments. They’ll get the most value and insights by using vulnerability assessment services. This involves hiring a cyber firm to carry these out rather than doing them solely internally.

To achieve the best level of cyber vigilance, you’ll want to evaluate different providers to determine the best fit. In this post, you’ll learn what to seek out in a partner.

What Are Vulnerability Assessment Services?

Vulnerability assessment services describe engaging a third party to do an evaluation for weaknesses within your applications, networks, and infrastructure. The process includes testing, scanning, and risk analysis and should be performed by professionals with experience, expertise, and certifications.

The objective of deploying the assessment is to find weaknesses related to misconfigurations, missing patches or updates, bug or code errors a hacker could exploit, security procedure gaps, and internal control effectiveness.

These services can focus on specific areas within your cyber ecosystem.

Types of Vulnerability Assessment Services

Working with a cyber firm, you can request these types of vulnerability assessments or engage them for all three:

  • Network-based: Assessors scan geographically distributed applications and machines. They seek to identify any security gaps within these systems. Every network device gets analyzed as testers look for compromised passwords and other issues. They’ll also determine how well you could respond to a cyberattack.
  • Application-based: This assessment type looks at the application layer. Those performing the test would focus on detecting misconfigurations or other vulnerabilities. The result is knowing how secure the application is (or is not).
  • Host-based: This option centers around machine weaknesses (e.g., workstations, network hosts, servers, etc.). Most of the time, assessors use a manager/agent model. The question to answer here is, “Are systems aligned with enterprise security standards?”

Each test is unique in what it evaluates and the questions it answers. You may have to commit to vulnerability assessments as a requirement of a regulation. If so, that will guide the type you choose. Other companies employ them because it makes good business sense to find vulnerabilities before cybercriminals do.

One of the most crucial parts of the service provided by experts is their ability to classify vulnerabilities. There are four ratings that firms can label a weakness:

  • Critical: These risks are the most urgent and require immediate remediation.
  • High: These vulnerabilities are also a high priority, falling just under critical.
  • Medium: These findings carry less risk but still need to be fixed.
  • Low/informational: This category is the lowest risk. You should keep an eye on them but likely don’t need to take action.

The criteria in which assessors use to classify these include:

  • How likely a hacker would be able to exploit it
  • The severity of such a vulnerability exploitation
  • What the weakness provides the hacker in terms of leverage

These are the basics. Now, let’s review how vulnerability assessment services work.

How Do Vulnerability Assessment Services Work?

Hiring a cybersecurity firm to complete vulnerability assessments can look different for each vendor. Our team of experts follows a proven framework that’s customizable based on many things, such as:

  • Industry regulation requirements (e.g., HIPAA, FDA medical device rules, PCI DSS, etc.)
  • Type of data you collect, store, use, or transmit (e.g., PHI [protected health information], PII [personally identifiable information], cardholder data)
  • The design and complexity of your network and infrastructure
  • If you’ve had previous cyber incidents or data breaches

It starts with defining what assets to evaluate and defining the scope and goals of the exercise. You’ll work with the cyber firm to outline all this before it begins.

The “action” part of the vulnerability assessment is scanning and testing.

Vulnerability Scanning and Testing

The scanning methods a testing organization deploys are an essential evaluation parameter. There is both automated and manual. Here’s how they work:

Automated scanning

Testers will employ scanning tools as the first step in assessing assets. These happen rapidly and offer a good initial sweep. These scanning applications will only locate “known” weaknesses with which they are familiar. Scans would occur across internal and external networks as well as devices like IoT (Internet of Things) and medical devices.


  • Scanning is fast.
  • It looks at the entire scope.
  • They are cost-effective.


  • They only find what they know about.
  • False positives and negatives are common.
  • They lack the human component of digging deeper into the root cause of the weakness.

Manual scanning

In this approach, vulnerability assessors review what scanning tools found and investigate further. They also use techniques to review each scope area in an attempt to identify anything scanners miss. In this scenario, well-trained cyber professionals use their knowledge of the most current vulnerabilities to complement the automation.


  • It’s more comprehensive than scanning.
  • Human review can address the potential false positives and negatives and either confirm or remove them.
  • Human intelligence expands the context around the weaknesses identified.


  • It takes longer than automation.
  • Manual scanning may be more expensive.

After the scanning, your testing partner will analyze the risks and provide a report. They’ll then go over these findings, including:

  • Advising what devices were tested and how
  • Defining each vulnerability and its severity level
  • The steps each assessor took during the scanning
  • What vulnerabilities you should prioritize
  • Recommendations for remediation

After this, you’ll begin to address each issue and make plans for retesting at an interval that makes sense for your needs and budget.

So, what makes a firm a great vulnerability assessment provider?

8 Things to Know About Selecting a Vulnerability Assessment Service Provider

There’s no shortage of options in firms that perform assessments. However, not every service is equal in its completeness and accuracy. Here are the things you should know as you compare organizations:

  1. Industry expertise matters: There are specific requirements for vulnerability scanning in relation to medical devices, healthcare technology, financial companies, and others. If you fall into this category, you need a service provider with a background in these fields. An out-of-the-box, generic scan will not be sufficient.
  2. Services should include value-added solutions: The value of vulnerability assessments is at its highest when constant. You want a partner that does more than scan and identify and then hands you a report. Look for value-added services like monthly results reviews and remediation support and strategies.
  3. Those doing the testing should have relevant certifications: Anybody can execute a simple scan, but that’s not who you want behind your vulnerability assessments. Those firms with testers who have deep experience also have certifications, including CISSP, CSSLP, OSCP, ECSA, LPT (Master), and CEH. Ask about these for any firm you’re considering.
  4. They should use automated and manual scanning: This is non-negotiable. You cannot rely only on automated scanning. It exposes you to too much unnecessary risk. You should always ask what tools they use and how they validate what those identify. Then, inquire about how they continue to exercise with manual techniques.
  5. Assessment providers should offer other cyber services: Vulnerability assessments are only one part of your cybersecurity strategy. They are a great complement to pen tests, which simulate cyberattacks for a real-world view of what a hacker may do. It’s ideal to work with the same company for vulnerability assessments and pen tests. Additionally, you may want to hire them to help you refine your cyber strategy, deploy phishing tests, or deliver training to employees on security risks.
  6. Your testing firm should be excellent communicators: Collaborating with a technical firm shouldn’t mean you have to decode jargon. Not everyone on your staff is going to be technical employees, but they are still important stakeholders. You can gauge how well they communicate from an initial discovery meeting. Communication matters in every partnership.
  7. The assessment should be flexible to meet your requirements: Another consideration is how agile their testing approaches are. It’s not a cookie-cutter exercise, so each business needs a unique framework. If it’s too rigid, that’s an indication the assessment provider only uses automated scanning and doesn’t have deep expertise.
  8. Reviews and references should be available: The best way to know if an organization offers vulnerability assessment services their clients are happy with is to hear from them. Most companies have testimonials and quotes on their website. Some may even have ratings and case studies. All this social proof should be part of your decision-making process. You should also ask for references from firms for a further review of their reputation.

You should employ all these parameters when evaluating partners for vulnerability assessments. When you do, you can be confident they’ll deliver results that secure your systems and data.

Vulnerability Assessment Services from Blue Goat Cyber

Our team of cyber experts and testers support companies of every size and industry. Our assessments include all the best practices and provide our clients with insights and action items that safeguard their cyber ecosystem. It all starts with a discovery call. Book yours today.

Blog Search

Social Media