Vulnerability management helps an organization protect its critical data assets by focusing on the effective tactics that mitigate the risks and stop vulnerabilities before it’s too late. Staying on top of network security is a priority, mainly since threats can come in different forms at any given time.
This article aims to enumerate the reasons you need to implement vulnerability management.
What Is Vulnerability Management?
Vulnerability management is the cyclic process of testing, documenting, responding, and triaging security vulnerabilities in an IT system and the software or programs that run on it. These processes are conducted in conjunction with other tactics to strengthen an organization against threats to minimize the attack surface.
According to the Department of Homeland Security Risk Lexicon, a vulnerability can be defined as an operational or physical feature that makes an asset, entity, network, system, or area susceptible to exposure and exploitation to any hazard.
Therefore, vulnerability management is a fundamental component of a security plan that determines what responses and controls are to be deployed to manage risks. It is a significant factor in cyber resilience, enabling companies to uncover their weaknesses and to come up with a plan that reinforces security.
On its own, vulnerability is not an active threat. So, it could be tricky for companies to pinpoint what weakness to focus on, especially since more extensive networks can have up to millions of vulnerabilities. For this reason, it is essential to implement vulnerability management religiously.
Why Is It Required?
Year after year, cyberattacks have become more creative and sophisticated, leaving computer systems at risk for real and emerging threats. The IT Governance UK revealed that there were 1.17 billion records affected by several data breaches across the globe in January of 2019 alone. Your information, including address, credit cards, phone number, and others, are at the mercy of cyberattackers, which makes it imperative to place strict measures that protect data effectively.
Vulnerability management processes need to be a part of any organization’s security protocols to monitor the status of its information security continuously. Controlling incidences of information security risk and other IT issues can defend the system from attackers trying to penetrate and steal information. Cybercrime can be mitigated once vulnerabilities are identified and addressed correctly.
Vulnerability Assessment Projects
The SANS Institute has highlighted the best practices for vulnerability management, with emphasis on six stages for an effective program that is designed to be repetitive and continuous.
- Asset Inventory. Exercising asset inventory is essential to pinpoint which areas need a certain level of protection. Unknown assets can be considered security risks.
- Information Management. Managing the company’s security-relevant information, especially in an ever-changing setting, can help every member of the organization comply with best practices in security and respond to security threats following company policies.
- Risk Assessment. Performing a risk assessment is crucial in learning about IT system threats, gauging their level of risk, and determining which risks can be written off as acceptable or not.
- Vulnerability Assessment. The layperson might confuse vulnerability assessment and vulnerability management, but these two are not the same. Vulnerability assessment is an element of managing risks by identifying key assets and issues they can be subjected to. It also provides recommendations on how to reinforce cybersecurity to mitigate risks.
- Reporting and Remediation. After an assessment is made, results are documented to determine what vulnerabilities are to be remediated or otherwise.
- Response Planning. All the findings in the stages above will form the basis on the response planning a company will undertake to tackle vulnerabilities.
Once these steps are followed, you can perform a cyclic implementation of these actions to ensure that vulnerabilities, both actual and emerging, could be addressed promptly and with the highest standards of management.
Identified vulnerabilities in a system can be prioritized according to severity. There are three ways to address vulnerabilities:
Patching or fixing the vulnerability to prevent exploitation by attackers. It is the preferred option for companies that have known high-priority risks.
When a patch or fix is not yet available, mitigation is the action to take to lessen the incidence or impact of an exploited vulnerability. It allows more time for the company to remediate the risk effectively.
Low-level vulnerabilities are often subjected to acceptance, which means making no move to mitigate or remediate the issue. These risks are typically more costly to fix than be exploited and are therefore left unaddressed.
Vulnerability Management: Do You Need It?
A correctly implemented vulnerability management program can help your company protect itself from cyberattacks effectively. The threat landscape is ever-evolving, and so is your network. Therefore, you must always be on guard and implement a management process tailored to your organization’s needs and requirements.