What Is The Vulnerability Management Lifecycle?

Vulnerabilities in your systems and networks are prime targets for cyber-attacks left unaddressed; they can allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or cause disruptions.

Step one in the vulnerability management lifecycle involves conducting an asset scan and identifying vulnerabilities. After prioritizing and remediating, these should be prioritized according to business risk.

Frameworks For Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management involves creating effective processes to address an ever-expanding attack surface. While organizations cannot keep pace with new vulnerabilities as they arise, having a framework in place gives teams structure and clarity when it comes to identifying and eliminating them.

As the first step of any vulnerability management framework, the initial task must define its scope. This involves setting explicit goals, such as increasing security posture or decreasing risk, while outlining stakeholder roles and responsibilities.

vulnerability management lifecycle

Next, scan your systems and networks for vulnerabilities. This includes physical, virtual, and software assets. Ideally, scan for all known and unknown vulnerabilities; this allows your team to compile a comprehensive list of assets which will assist them when prioritizing vulnerabilities for remediation first. Finally, analyze the results of the scanning phase to assess what worked and didn't in order to continuously enhance the vulnerability management program.

Vulnerability Management Lifecycle Step

Various steps in the vulnerability management life cycle can assist organizations with identifying and eliminating weaknesses in their cybersecurity. Vulnerabilities such as misconfigurations or coding flaws allow cyber attackers to gain entry to systems and networks and potentially steal sensitive data. Organizations can improve their security posture and protect themselves against cyber attacks by instituting vulnerability management programs and patch management systems.

At the core of vulnerability management are automated scans for vulnerability assessment. This should be conducted frequently to ensure all devices that may serve as attack points are thoroughly scanned and any vulnerabilities found are remedied promptly. Furthermore, assigning each asset a security team member improves accountability while helping reduce gaps in coverage.

Once vulnerabilities have been identified, the next step should be prioritizing them based on severity and impact on assets in an organization. This can be accomplished by assigning each vulnerability a risk score - this score then informs appropriate actions to take.

Stages of the vulnerability management lifecycle

Vulnerability management is an essential cybersecurity practice that strengthens an organization's ability to anticipate and respond to attacks. This must involve an iterative process consisting of ongoing monitoring and assessment assessments for optimal effectiveness.

Asset Discovery is the starting point in the vulnerability management lifecycle. This process entails inventorying all your company assets -- such as hardware, software and virtualized systems -- for vulnerabilities cyberattackers could exploit. This can identify potential attack surfaces and reveal vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.

Step two involves assessing each vulnerability's severity and determining if immediate remediation should occur. This step depends upon both its importance to your operations and security context - for instance, an externally facing web application may warrant higher priority than an employee-facing system.

Finally, you must create an action plan and assign ownership for remediation for each asset to ensure accountability and keep tabs on progress. Furthermore, key metrics must be reported to senior leadership to demonstrate your vulnerability management program's success.

Step 1. Assess

Vulnerabilities are time bombs that cybercriminals can exploit to gain unwarranted access to sensitive data and cause other damage, making vulnerability management vitally crucial to secure systems and networks against attack.

One of the critical steps of any effective vulnerability management program is conducting an inventory of physical and virtual assets to identify their vulnerabilities and assess what repairs need to be performed and how frequently assets should be scanned to detect any new ones.

Prioritize vulnerabilities according to their impact and business value in this step. Doing this helps avoid spending unnecessary time and effort fixing low-risk vulnerabilities that don't pose significant threats.

Once the priority vulnerabilities have been identified, it's time to implement a mitigation strategy to reduce risk and enhance security. This may involve patches or other remediation techniques; if they cannot be resolved quickly enough, it's still wise to minimize their effects by temporarily isolating an asset from internet access- giving you time to address its root cause without becoming vulnerable to a cyber attack.

Step 2. Prioritize

Vulnerability management is a vital element of any organization's cybersecurity strategy, as, without it, attackers may exploit vulnerabilities in your systems and networks to compromise sensitive data, interrupt operations, or steal valuable assets. By following best practices for vulnerability management lifecycle implementation and employing best practices as part of their Vulnerability Assessment Lifecycle process, organizations can improve their ability to detect and eliminate vulnerabilities more quickly and effectively.

Step one in creating an asset inventory is an inventory of all enterprise assets, such as network devices, servers, software and services, and any hidden IT assets not identified by scanning tools.

At this stage, it is necessary to identify which assets pose the highest risks to your organization if their vulnerabilities are exploited, taking into account impacts such as business operations, reputational risk management and financial standing, among others.

Prioritize assets that should be addressed first and establish a clear path toward remediation by identifying context sources and enriching scan data with threat intelligence, root cause analysis, remediation intelligence and attacker path context.

Step 3. Act

Vulnerability management is an intricate cybersecurity practice designed to bolster an organization's ability to anticipate and react quickly to cyberattacks. While vulnerability scanning only identifies vulnerabilities once and then rechecks them, a successful vulnerability management program identifies, assesses, prioritizes, and remediates vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them.

Organizations need a structured vulnerability management process in place to stay abreast of rapidly emerging threats, which allows them to focus and prioritize resources on assets that pose the highest threats to an organization's cybersecurity posture.

Security researchers identified 21,957 commercial software and hardware vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to gain unauthorized access to systems, networks, and data. While organizations cannot install every security patch that addresses these vulnerabilities, implementing an effective vulnerability management process provides structure and precision for an organization's security posture while justifying ongoing vulnerability management activities with stakeholders. This article covers six steps of the vulnerability management lifecycle: 1. Prepare an Asset Inventory.

Step 4. Reassess

Once an organization has an inventory of assets, it can run traditional vulnerability scans to detect code weaknesses or misconfigurations. Furthermore, threat intelligence platforms provide useful threat context that will enable prioritizing vulnerabilities properly and ensuring they are being detected appropriately.

At each stage of a program's lifecycle, teams must communicate effectively. This ensures smooth handovers between team members as well as communication with stakeholders who might lack an in-depth technical understanding of issues being raised. Furthermore, this conversation provides an opportunity to discuss long-term improvements like developing key performance indicators to measure its success.

Idealistically, it would be ideal to remediate each vulnerability as soon as it's identified; however, that's often not feasible due to resource limitations. For instance, waiting for a patch from your vendor before remediating an identified vulnerability can reduce its impact by performing risk mitigation controls.

Step 5. Improve

Once security teams have assessed and prioritized vulnerabilities, it is time for action. This involves fixing and testing vulnerabilities to harden cyber defenses against attacks - this is also an opportunity to address backlogs or strengthen weak defenses.

Initial scans should be repeated regularly using vulnerability management tools to discover any new vulnerabilities that might have been overlooked during initial discovery processes. This step must also be automated if possible for maximum efficiency.

Step two is creating an asset inventory of business-critical systems and their vulnerabilities, which will help identify any unauthorized systems and gaps in asset management processes. Furthermore, this inventory helps determine whether or not an asset is considered critical so that you can prioritize the most urgent issues.

Final Step: Take Action On Vulnerabilities That Present the Highest Risk To Your Organization If vulnerabilities that represent the greatest threat to your organization have been identified, taking the appropriate actions must follow. Accept or mitigate risk as necessary (for instance, patching vulnerable systems) or remedy by removing it from the network altogether.

Xcitium Client Security - Device
Endpoint Protection + Endpoint Detection & Response

Gain full context of an attack to connect the dots on how hackers are attempting to breach your network with ZeroDwell Containment, EPP, and Next-Gen EDR.

Xcitium MDR - Device
Xcitium Managed SOC - Device
Managed EDR - Detection & Response

We continuously monitor endpoint device activities and policy violations, and provide threat hunting and SOC Services, with 24/7 eyes on glass threat management. Managed SOC services for MSPs and MSSPs.

Xcitium MDR - Network | Cloud
Xcitium Managed SOC - Network | Cloud
Managed Extended Detection & Response

Outsourced Zero Trust managed - security with options for protecting endpoints clouds and/or networks, as well as threat hunting, SOC Services, with 24/7 expert eyes on glass threat management.

Xcitium CNAPP - Cloud Workload Protection

Xcitium's Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) provides automated Zero Trust cloud security for cloud-based applications and cloud workloads, including infrastructure DevOps from code to runtime.

Move Away From Detection With Patented Threat Prevention Built For Today's Challenges.

No one can stop zero-day malware from entering your network, but Xcitium can prevent if from causing any damage. Zero infection. Zero damage.

Book A Demo
EDR - Dot Pattern