Vulnerability Management (VM) programmes are the meat and potatoes of any comprehensive programme for information security. These are no longer optional. In fact, many compliance, audit, and risk management frameworks for information security require organizations to maintain a vulnerability management programme.
What is Vulnerability Management?
Vulnerability management is the process which identifies, analyses, tries and fixes vulnerabilities in computer security. It’s an end-to-end process that manages the entire vulnerability lifecycle to ensure nothing falls through the cracks in a dynamic environment.
With modern IT infrastructure consisting of several different operating systems, programmes, databases, firewalls, orchestration software and more, the attack surface has never been larger for possible vulnerabilities. The traditional process of manually analysing the security status is no longer feasible and neither scalable.
Why is Vulnerability Management Important?
The number of vulnerabilities is growing regularly. In addition, because of the vast number of devices that access your network, multiple endpoints that leave you vulnerable to threats, and more advanced attacks, it’s important to proactively handle your network vulnerabilities instead of handling them when an intruder has discovered them for you.
Network vulnerabilities represent security holes that attackers can exploit to harm network infrastructure, cause service denials and/or steal potentially sensitive information. Attackers are constantly searching for new vulnerabilities to exploit — and exploiting old vulnerabilities that might have gone unpatched.
Having a system for vulnerability management that routinely reviews new vulnerabilities is crucial in preventing breaches of information security. Old security vulnerabilities may be left on the network for long periods of time, without a vulnerability testing and patch management programme. This provides more space for the attackers to exploit weaknesses and carry out their attacks.
According to a new study, almost 60 per cent of the companies that “experienced a breach were due to an unpatched weakness”. In other words, almost 60 per cent of the data breaches experienced by survey respondents could potentially have been avoided by implementing a vulnerability management programme that would implement essential fixes before attackers leveraged the vulnerability.
What are the 4 Vulnerability Management Stages?
The first stage of the vulnerability management plan would be to recognize all of the IT environment vulnerabilities. To do this you need to identify the IT assets and find the correct vulnerability scanners for each asset.
The vulnerability scanner you use to identify vulnerabilities in your network, and it won’t be the same in your applications. When it comes to the security of applications, you must use at least two different technologies to detect vulnerabilities in your proprietary code and open source libraries. This is an important part of vulnerability management and is becoming increasingly difficult as the environment of organizations become more evolving, dynamic, and interconnected.
Organizations must run automated vulnerability tests at least once a week, according to the Internet Security Centre. More regular testing will give you more insight into your remediation progress and will help you identify new threats based on updated vulnerability details.
Upon discovering the weaknesses that exist in the networks, the next step is to analyse the threats they present and decide how they can be handled. While understanding the risk ratings your vulnerability management solution offers such as the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores is important, you will also want to understand other real-world risk factors.
It’s not only about knowing the vulnerabilities but getting timely, effective information access. If you do not receive the data from a credible source, you could waste your time on false positives.
Often, it’s important to know if any found vulnerabilities are false positive. You can identify false positives with tools and techniques that enable vulnerability validation, such as penetration testing, and focus on the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to your organization.
The next step after you have identified and assessed vulnerabilities are to determine how to prioritize and address them.
Your vulnerability management solution will probably recommend which remediation technique for each vulnerability you should use. To assess the correct approach, it is best that the security staff, system owners and system administrators weigh-in.
Remediation in the vulnerability management process is to correct, monitor or remove those vulnerabilities as and when the vulnerabilities are detected and reported. It can be done by making changes and fixes or workarounds possible to stop the threat.
This stage is then repeated as new vulnerabilities are discovered. To identify and discover new vulnerabilities that could lead to possible, future attacks, the network and its devices must be constantly monitored.
By making vulnerability assessments a routine practise, you’ll gain greater insight into your vulnerability management programme’s effectiveness, speed and cost.
Most vulnerability management systems allow you to export data from your various vulnerability scanners to make it easier for your security team to understand each asset’s security position and track it with time to identify trends such as increased vulnerability detection or reduced remediation speed.
Consistent reporting will help your security team meet the risk management KPIs of your organization, as well as regulatory requirements.
Why do we need Vulnerability Management?
If patching and configuring systems in a secure way is a top priority to keep your business safe, patch management is essential. Every day, attackers and researchers are finding new vulnerabilities and vendors, who are rushing to fix vulnerabilities or taking steps to harden systems against vulnerabilities. Many attackers are financially driven and actively adapt. In a race against patching, malware which exploits vulnerabilities is written and deployed fast. Over the past few years, this is increasingly evident and continues today, a prime example is all the latest variants of ransomware.
Vulnerability management provides continuous pulse-checking of your company’s security to ensure patches are applied and vulnerabilities are remedied. Systems can often report being up to date when patches have not been applied.
Teceze has an accomplished cyber-security department with several specialized certifications. If you are looking for services for penetration testing or vulnerability management, then we’re available to help you build and implement solutions that meet or exceed your needs. Contact one of our vulnerability management specialists.
The only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build is to be vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’d like to know more about how your business can benefit from managed services, just give us a call, we are here to help.
Vulnerability Management (VM) programmes are the meat and potatoes of any comprehensive programme for information security.