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There is an inconvenient truth to operating a business in today’s digital landscape where remote working has become a necessity and not just an option. That is the increasing number of cyberattacks and hackers who are sophisticatedly finding new ways to target internal corporate networks and systems.
They do this by taking advantage of software vulnerabilities before vendors can even issue patches. To know what attackers are looking for, a security solution, such as vulnerability management needs to be implemented.
Vulnerability Management: Defined
Vulnerability management refers to the comprehensive process executed to constantly identify, assess, classify, fix, and report on security vulnerabilities. This is carried out to single out vulnerabilities in operating systems (OS), enterprise applications, browsers, as well as end-user applications.
Vulnerability management has become crucial now more than ever due to the advent of cybersecurity attacks and regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST 800-731, and more. This ongoing process will continuously identify vulnerabilities that can be fixed through patching and configuration of a stack of security settings.
Why is the vulnerability management process important?
Attackers often find a backdoor to accomplish an attack through network vulnerabilities that represent an organization’s security gaps. Some of their most common goals are to damage network assets, set off a denial of service, or steal sensitive and valuable user information. These cybercriminals are not just looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit but they’re also taking advantage of old, unpatched vulnerabilities.
If you don’t have a vulnerability testing and patch management framework, the exposure of old security gaps goes on for extended periods of time. This gives attackers a bigger window to exploit your network’s vulnerabilities and perform attacks.
To prevent such cybersecurity breaches, you may want to consider implementing a vulnerability management solution that will regularly look for new and existing vulnerabilities within your network.
The Vulnerability Management Process
Vulnerability management consists of several processes that aim to provide organizations with a solution to identify and tackle vulnerabilities—quickly and continually. At a high level, these processes include:
Identifying all vulnerabilities that exist across your IT network is the first stage in a vulnerability management program. The process includes defining your IT assets and finding the right vulnerability scanners for each one of them.
Frequent scanning will provide you with greater clarity on the progress of your resolution and help you single out new risks based on updated vulnerability information so you may want to consider performing automated vulnerability scans at least once a week.
Following identification is the evaluation of the determined vulnerabilities, the risks they pose, and how to manage them.
Understanding the risk ratings that your vulnerability management framework provides (like Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores) is important. However, it’s also essential to understand other real-world risk factors, such as:
- How easily could an attacker exploit a vulnerability, and does a published exploit code exist somewhere?
- Does the vulnerability directly affect the security of your product?
- What are the possible consequences to your business if a vulnerability was exploited?
- Do you have any existing security protocols that can help minimize the likelihood of these vulnerabilities being exploited?
Another goal of the evaluation stage is to identify whether a known vulnerability is a false positive. This would allow your IT security team to focus more on the vulnerabilities that pose the biggest risk to your organization.
After you’ve identified and evaluated vulnerabilities, the next step is to find a way to prioritize and solve them. Having a solid vulnerability management system allows you to decide on the best remediation technique to use for each identified vulnerability.
When it comes to remediation, there are different courses you can take:
- Remediation – the complete prevention of exploitation through patching, correcting, or replacing code that has a vulnerability.
- Mitigation – the reduction of the probability or effect of a vulnerability. This often leads to a temporary solution that you can use until you can fully remediate the vulnerability.
- No action – where you acknowledge and accept the vulnerability. Typically, you can only do this when the cost of remediating is significantly higher than the consequences of it being exploited.
Carry out another set of scans to see that the vulnerability was completely resolved.
Most vulnerability management solutions allow organizations to export the data from their various vulnerability scanners. This is something you can take advantage of so your IT security team can easily understand the security posture of all your assets and monitor them with time. This helps to identify trends including increased vulnerability detection and decreased remediation velocity.
Consistent reporting can also help your team to comply with your industry’s risk management KPIs and regulatory requirements.
Security breaches can be easily prevented if a strong vulnerability management plan is implemented. In addition to this, you can get rid of threats by adding Comodo Security solutions in your arsenal. Doing so enables your team to apply critical protection before cybercriminals take advantage of your vulnerability.