Some people still believe their IT infrastructure is unflawed simply because they’ve never experienced a cybersecurity incident – until something goes wrong and the company becomes the victim of a malware attack or a data leak. This is why proactively finding security flaws and minimizing loopholes is an utter necessity for organizations large and small, which is where vulnerability management comes into play.
What Is Vulnerability Management?
Vulnerability Management is an important part of any cybersecurity strategy, which refers to the security practices that proactively identify, prevent, mitigate, and classify vulnerabilities within an IT system.
According to our cybersecurity glossary, vulnerabilities can be defined as being “holes” in computer security, which leave the systems open to cyberattacks. If they’re not taken care of efficiently, exploited vulnerabilities may lead to the disturbance of IT systems, potentially resulting in expensive data breaches and service disruptions.
Vulnerability Management vs. Patch Management
As explained previously, vulnerability management is a proactive process designed for identifying, preventing, mitigating, and classifying vulnerabilities. Based on the nature of the vulnerability or threat, different approaches are required to take care of it. This is where patch management comes in, as it is the technique of resolving software vulnerabilities in a network by deploying patches. Patch management, in this sense, is an essential component of vulnerability management. I have previously written an article where I go more in-depth on the differences between the two processes, which you can check out here.
Vulnerability Management vs. Vulnerability Assessment
Typically, a vulnerability assessment is a piece of the vulnerability management process. Typically, to gain more useful information on the health of the system, organizations will run multiple vulnerability assessments to come up with an effective vulnerability management action plan.
Vulnerability Management vs. Risk-Based Vulnerability Management
Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) is a cybersecurity strategy that allows organizations to use security intelligence to identify, prioritize, and address the most serious vulnerabilities based on the context of their risk. This concept is also met under the name of Vulnerability Risk Management. Unlike vulnerability management, RBVM is a risk-based approach that focuses on the likelihood of a vulnerability being exploited, rather than just on the severity of potential consequences if it is exploited.
Many cybersecurity organizations use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to assess and convey software vulnerabilities’ severity and characteristics. It is a free and open industry standard. The CVSS Base Score ranges from 0.0 to 10.0, and CVSS scores are given a severity grade by the National Vulnerability Database (NVD).
The NVD also contains vulnerability data that automated vulnerability management solutions and IT staff pull from.
Benefits of Vulnerability Management
As you can see, vulnerability management is essential for safeguarding your company from the acts of threat actors that might try to compromise your systems. A technology called vulnerability management continuously classifies and maintains the attributes of each network equipment in your company.
One of the top benefits of the vulnerability management process is its cost-effectiveness. An automated solution will save your organization from ineffective patching and will also contribute to a reduction of technical debt.
Simply said, vulnerability management aids in the organization’s security posture’s structure and clarity, strengthening its justification to stakeholders who will therefore be more willing to support vulnerability programs.
Quick Response to Threats
Threat actors don’t rest or take vacations! Every day, vulnerabilities are discovered when we least expect them. Organizations can transition from a reactive to a proactive reaction with the aid of vulnerability management.
Setting up a continuous patch management strategy makes guarantees that major vulnerabilities are quickly identified, given priority, and have the resources to be fixed. By doing this, it creates the framework for a quicker and more efficient reaction to threats as they materialize.
Enhances Visibility and Reporting
Having visibility into a project helps stakeholders understand the return on investment in security and can benefit subsequent projects. The resulting reports provide senior management with key metrics and indicators, which are helpful in the process of making informed decisions on key initiatives.
The result of the reports also helps the team with actionable dashboards and trend reports, which helps them in measuring the performance and state of the program.
Maintaining team and system alignment with project objectives and results is crucial, particularly when highly sensitive security for an organization is involved.
Vulnerability management aims to specify the procedure for locating vulnerabilities and resolving them in order to maintain alignment. It also has the potential to reduce manual workflow, and besides this, it also provides continuous monitoring, alerting, and remediation solutions.
What Should Vulnerability Management Include?
Vulnerability Management is an ongoing, proactive prevention mechanism that should include steps like:
- Vulnerability scanning – network scanning, firewall logging, penetration testing, or using an automated tool like a vulnerability scanner.
- Finding vulnerabilities – analyzing the results of your vulnerability scans and firewall logs and searching for anomalies that may prove an attack has taken place in your environment.
- Checking vulnerabilities – determining how the bugs found may potentially be abused on computers, software, networks, etc. It often requires the assessment of a vulnerability’s magnitude and the danger it poses to the company.
- Mitigating vulnerabilities – deciding how to prevent the vulnerabilities’ exploitation prior to patches being released.
- Patching vulnerabilities – the most important part of a vulnerability management process is actually remediating vulnerabilities through patching.
With our Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management module, patching can be fully automated, allowing you to schedule the process according to your own needs.
How to Implement a Vulnerability Management Process in Your Organization
Now that you’ve grasped the importance of managing your organization’s vulnerabilities, here are some steps that you will hopefully benefit from when setting up your vulnerability management process.
#1. Define Your Objectives
The main objective of any vulnerability management exercise will be finding and mitigating vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.
Then, you should establish secondary objectives, such as determining the frequency of your vulnerability scanning. One of the mistakes encountered in vulnerability scanning is not conducting this process regularly, which leaves your company exposed if any vulnerabilities linger too long without being detected. Thus, if scanning is performed in a timely fashion, the risks will be highly reduced.
#2. Define the Roles Within Your Organization
Another important aspect you should take care of is assigning roles and responsibilities and clearly defining all stakeholders’ roles in the vulnerability management process. Everyone involved must comprehend the need for such a process.
For an effective vulnerability management process, CISA proposes the following types of roles to be assigned in an organization:
- Monitoring roles – the people responsible should analyze the severity of vulnerabilities, log the vulnerability information into a repository, and alert the remediation team.
- Remediation roles – employees in charge should perform actions such as analyzing the impact of patches on the organization and developing in-house workarounds to the vulnerability (if none are available).
- Authorization roles – they are part of the change management process personnel and should undertake corrective actions to determine if there may be any adverse effects.
#3. Choose a Reliable Vulnerability Management Tool
The vulnerability management procedure, from vulnerability discovery to remediation, should become as automated as possible. This way, operations will be more effective, and repetitive tasks and processes will be reduced, allowing staff to focus on other essential tasks. Thanks to an automated approach, businesses will be able to efficiently mitigate vulnerabilities that pose threats, while avoiding unnecessary damage to business operations.
Automated vulnerability management tools allow you to monitor your infrastructure continuously and assess the status of your environment in real time.
Our Automated Vulnerability Management solution enables you to mitigate exploits, achieve compliance, solve vulnerabilities, and install software anywhere in the world, according to your schedule.
You also gain a powerful vulnerability intelligence on what has already been patched and the current liabilities in your environment, allowing you to respond quickly and intervene on certain endpoints if risks persist for too long. What’s more, an extensive lifetime history reporting is available as well, which helps you become fully compliant with the latest regulations.
In a nutshell, with Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management, you are provided with an easy-to-use, intuitive, and comprehensive vulnerability management Dashboard and reporting tool, which are the key elements of a complete Vulnerability management solution that will increase your overall security and efficiency.
My colleague has also proposed a list of vulnerability management tools (open-source and paid) that I encourage you to take a look at.
#4. Assess the effectiveness of your vulnerability management program
Maintaining and supporting a continuous vulnerability management program allows an organization to assess the effectiveness of its vulnerability discovery, analysis, and mitigation, and provides guidance in future decision-making.
You should always make the necessary adjustments in your processes along the way, ensuring that your company maintains an exhaustive understanding of its critical assets and keeps its infrastructure secured.
How Can Heimdal® Help?
One legacy of implementing a vulnerability management process will be less stress for IT teams and enhanced security for your organization. Join us in the race to patch all newly-discovered vulnerabilities and avoid unnecessary interruptions caused by cyber-attacks, which never seem to be slowing down, not even during the current global crisis.
We’re offering a free 30-day trial of Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management, our cloud-delivered patch management, and vulnerability management solution, as we try to help companies navigate towards certainty. Regardless of whether you’re operating as a remote-first company or conducting your activity in the office, our solution will fit your needs.
It’s up to you whether your vulnerability management journey will be a tale of failure or success – it only depends on how you approach it.
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- Create policies that meet your exact needs;
- Full compliance and CVE/CVSS audit trail;
- Gain extensive vulnerability intelligence;
- And much more than we can fit in here…
How do you currently manage vulnerabilities in your organization? If you have any comments on this article, we’d be happy to hear your opinion, so you may drop a comment below.