Creating a network assessment is an important aspect of network security. A network assessment will allow for a better understanding of where vulnerabilities may be found within the network. It is important to know precisely what you are doing during a network assessment. If the assessment is done incorrectly, you could cause great harm to the network you are trying to protect.
Before you start the network assessment, you should determine the objectives of the assessment itself. Are you trying to identify if the network has any open ports that shouldn't be? Is your objective to quantify how much traffic flows through the network at any given time or a specific time?
Once you decide on the objectives of the network assessment, you will then be able to choose the types of tool you will use. Network assessment tools are often known as penetration testing tools. A person who employs these tools is known as a penetration tester or pen tester.
These tools are designed to find and exploit network vulnerabilities, so that they can be fixed before a real attack occurs. That is why it is important to know what you are doing when using penetration testing tools during an assessment. Later in this book, we will discuss and provide applied labs for some of the most powerful penetration testing tools available. We will also explain how to use them properly.
Sometimes network assessments require a team. It is important to have an accurate idea of the scale of the network before you pick your team. In a large enterprise network, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by tasks to complete without enough support. Once the scale of the network assessment is complete, the next step is to ensure you have written permission and scope from management. All parties involved in the network assessment must be clear on what can and cannot be done to the network during the assessment.
After the assessment is completed, the last step is creating a report to educate concerned parties about the findings. Providing detailed information and solutions to vulnerabilities will help keep the network up-to-date in terms of defense. The report will also be able to determine if there are any viruses lying dormant, waiting for an opportune time to attack the network. Network assessments should be conducted routinely and frequently to help ensure strong network security.