Vulnerability management is an integral component of any cybersecurity strategy, helping identify and prioritize software issues or misconfigurations that could be exploited by hackers or cause disruption to business operations.
Effective vulnerability prioritization relies on contextual data. Leading vulnerability management tools incorporate threat intelligence and enterprise assets to provide security teams with insight into the true risk associated with an individual flaw.
How does vulnerability management work?
Vulnerability management is an ongoing and proactive practice designed to identify security gaps in computer systems, networks and enterprise applications - helping protect organizations against cyber attacks that could result in data breaches or system malfunction.
The vulnerability management process
The vulnerability management process entails four steps: assessment, evaluation, prioritization and remediation. Scanners use automated or manual systems to assess and understand the current state of an organization's web applications, computers and other devices - with this information helping detect any vulnerabilities or misconfigurations that cyber attackers might exploit.
After validating and rating vulnerabilities identified within an organization's risk management framework, they must be prioritized and addressed according to its risk management framework. Rating and ranking processes rely on various factors, including out-of-the-box risk ratings (standard vulnerability scoring system or CVSS), business, threat and exploitation context, and out-of-the-box risk ratings (standard vulnerability scoring system or CVSS).
Once the most dangerous vulnerabilities have been identified, the team can create a program to address them in systems to remove potential attack vectors.
Communicating its findings to stakeholders is critical at the conclusion of any vulnerability assessment process. This can be accomplished by producing reports on vulnerability status or using gamification tools like leaderboards to encourage teams to improve their vulnerability management practices and reduce risk exposure. By following this approach to vulnerability management, you can rest easy knowing you're taking proactive measures against cyber attacks or data breaches that threaten your business's bottom line.
What is risk-based vulnerability management?
Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) is an approach that prioritizes vulnerabilities based on their impact on an organization, with the ultimate aim being protecting devices, networks, and digital assets against attacks by mitigating risks that threaten them.
Traditional vulnerability management strategies typically focus on identifying and patching vulnerabilities; risk-based vulnerability management takes a more strategic approach to improve program effectiveness. With limited IT security staff resources and an ever-increasing attack surface, prioritizing vulnerabilities based on their impact is becoming increasingly essential.
IT teams must consider multiple factors when identifying vulnerabilities: discoverability and exploitability; potential damage caused by exploiting; asset context where vulnerability resides; etc. To properly categorize risks before an intrusion takes place.
This represents an outstanding improvement over the CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) approach traditionally utilized for prioritization in most vulnerability management tools. CVSS provides a framework to quantify severity but only addresses risk when exploited successfully.
Threat actors no longer only target vulnerabilities based on their CVSS score; they focus on medium to low-severity flaws that serve as entryways into an organization's network. Therefore, an IT team's risk-based vulnerability management program enables them to prioritize the most dangerous vulnerabilities while mitigating any other vulnerabilities.
Risk-based vulnerability management programs can also help decrease the time IT staff requires to address vulnerabilities since automated processes for evaluating and prioritizing vulnerabilities make it simpler for teams to streamline repetitive tasks while prioritizing those more serious ones that need special consideration.
Vulnerability management benefits
Vulnerability management provides a practical framework for identifying, assessing, prioritizing and remediating software or hardware vulnerabilities to reduce the risk of cyber attacks by exploiting weak spots.
An efficient vulnerability management process enables organizations to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities quickly, move away from reactive to proactive responses, and better align security efforts with business priorities while making informed decisions regarding how best to defend against threats.
Organizations often have more vulnerabilities than they have the resources to address, so teams must effectively prioritize and manage them. Vulnerability management tools help teams identify each vulnerability's impact, the probability that it will be exploited, the cost to remediate it and assess how effective different remediation techniques are at reducing the threat.
At times, the costs associated with remediating vulnerabilities can outweigh their associated risks; when this occurs, it may be best to accept and live with them rather than take steps to address them. A vulnerability management solution can assess different mitigation approaches' effects in lowering risks while providing recommendations on which are most suitable.
Regular, continuous vulnerability assessments enable organizations to track and measure their progress in addressing vulnerabilities. With such visibility, organizations can report to stakeholders on their progress, helping justify investments made in security programs.
Stakeholders can then be empowered to support ongoing security activities that have been put in place to prevent attacks; additionally, regular vulnerability assessments enable monitoring of the effectiveness of current mitigation measures and any new threats that need to be prepared against.
How to manage vulnerabilities?
An effective vulnerability management solution can help your organization reduce its attack surface by identifying and remediating vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them. But its primary goal shouldn't just be scanning, discovering, and remediating vulnerabilities; vulnerability management's purpose should also include understanding their possible exploitation and impact on your business.
The first step of vulnerability management is gaining visibility into your assets - such as software, servers, cloud service providers and devices - to understand your attack surface and reduce it as efficiently as possible. A good vulnerability management solution should automatically discover all devices associated with each software program that they host so you can reduce it over time.
With daily data breaches occurring across industries and organizations worldwide, vulnerabilities must be quickly identified and fixed. Most organizations can only address one out of every ten vulnerabilities found, so prioritizing which weaknesses should be tackled first requires vulnerability evaluation and risk-based vulnerability management processes.
At the initial phase of vulnerability management, scanning tools examine each device within your network and collect software data to compare against a list of vulnerabilities released by software vendors. This information then helps identify and catalog vulnerabilities across all of your assets.
Once the vulnerability scans are completed, a security rating is assigned to each vulnerability, giving you a better idea of its threat level and potential impact on your business. Combined with asset criticality determined during phase one of vulnerability management, this data helps prioritize which vulnerabilities must be fixed first.
After your vulnerabilities have been identified and prioritized, it's time to remediate them! A continuous monitoring process must be implemented to ensure any vulnerabilities can be remedied successfully by your organization. A good vulnerability management solution should provide a centralized dashboard where you can view the progress made on remediation efforts by individual risk owners and the status of remediation efforts on an individual risk owner basis.