Vulnerability management is a critical component of any security program. Effectively prioritizing vulnerabilities helps ensure that the most critical assets are protected and resources are not wasted, addressing risks unlikely to impact the business.
The first step in vulnerability management involves scanning systems to identify existing vulnerabilities. The scanning process may include a combination of manual and automated methods. This includes identifying open ports and services on network-accessible systems, comparing system information with known vulnerabilities, and checking application code for weaknesses.
The second stage in vulnerability management is evaluating and ranking risks based on their impact and likelihood of exploitation. This is a key component in helping teams prioritize remediation tasks, and it also helps organizations develop plans to address the most important vulnerabilities.
Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to exploit your systems. By detecting and fixing these flaws, you can protect your data, avoid costly hacking incidents, and keep your employees, customers, and partners safe. In fact, according to Ponemon research, 80% of data breaches involve known vulnerabilities with available patches that haven’t been applied.
Vulnerability remediation removes vulnerabilities from an environment and eliminates them as threat vectors. It’s important to have a process for effectively prioritizing vulnerabilities based on their real risk to your organization, which allows security teams to focus their efforts on the threats that matter most. Without a well-defined vulnerability prioritization process, wasting time on vulnerabilities that don’t pose significant risks is easy.
For example, suppose your team uses CVSS to assess and prioritize vulnerabilities. In that case, it’s common to focus on all vulnerabilities that exceed a certain score — but this doesn’t consider whether the exposed assets matter to your organization and are being weaponized by attackers. Those factors can distinguish between a successful attack and one that fails.
As digital systems evolve, new vulnerabilities and attack methods emerge. Unpatched vulnerabilities expose systems to exploitation, creating a pathway for attackers to steal sensitive information or disrupt critical services.
An automated vulnerability management solution to scan, detect and prioritize vulnerabilities enables you to identify and mitigate risks across your entire attack surface. An efficient vulnerability assessment can reduce technical debt, bolstering your justification to stakeholders to invest in your security posture initiatives.
A plan to resolve vulnerabilities is essential to a robust vulnerability management program. It’s also important to create a strategy for preventing future vulnerabilities, such as defining how software updates will be applied and who is responsible for checking the status of those updates. This will prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited until they can be fixed.
In addition to scanning to identify vulnerabilities, effective vulnerability management requires ongoing monitoring of vulnerabilities. This includes evaluating the risk posed by a particular flaw, its weaponization, and how easy it is to exploit. This is especially important since it can take time for a hacker to discover and exploit an issue. The threat landscape constantly changes, so teams must monitor vulnerabilities continuously to ensure they address the most severe risks first.
To do this, teams need visibility into all assets in the environment – managed and unmanaged (BYOD) systems, networks, and devices. This allows them to prioritize vulnerability remediation based on asset context and business impact. It also enables them to create an efficient patching process, ensuring that the most critical vulnerabilities are addressed quickly.