Businesses, both small and large, rely on technology. That means using computers (and other devices), apps, software, and, of course, a connection to the internet.
And, as technology becomes more sophisticated, it also falls prey to misconfiguration and vulnerabilities.
These, in turn, can leave the business open to cyber attacks, leading to data breaches or loss control of assets.
That’s why vulnerability management is so essential.
What Is Vulnerability Management?
“Vulnerability management” refers to an integral part of cybersecurity management. It’s a task periodically carried out to identify, evaluate, remediate/mitigate, and report any potential weaknesses in a business’ network, system, infrastructure, or endpoints.
It forms a part of an overall strategy where cybersecurity is maintained by constantly evaluating risk and finding points that threat actors could use to gain access. Once these weak points are identified, the threat can be assessed and patch implementation carried out.
The reason why vulnerability management is essential is that it can help businesses reduce the avenues a threat actor has to get into the data and network of the company.
How Does Vulnerability Management Work?
As stated previously, vulnerability management is a process where a business scans its systems and network for exploitable weaknesses. It generates a list of potential “problem areas”.
These are then assessed and given a priority ranking. This ranking helps business team identify issues that need fixing first.
Since the process is periodic and ongoing, businesses can monitor all its digital assets to ensure your data stays safe.
What Is the Vulnerability Management Process?
The Vulnerability Management Policy
As with anything else in a business, vulnerability management starts with a plan. Here’s what security teams need to map out:
Prepare the vulnerability management policy: Once created, the policy should be shared with other stakeholders to get their input before proceeding further.
Create a priority system: certain systems might not require as much security as others. By creating a priority list, teams can focus on the important parts whilst giving others slightly less, but adequate, attention.
Factor in the industry- and region-specific regulations: Certain industries have to follow regulations and policies specific to the work they do. Certain regions might have more stringent regulations around cybersecurity and data protection.
Train cybersecurity and vulnerability management stakeholders: Whilst it is important that everyone in the organisation is trained on cyber secure behaviour, certain people would have to take on extra responsibilities.
For example, security officers, cybersecurity or vulnerability engineers, asset and data owners, managed security service providers (MSSPs), and other business leaders. For a smoother operation, these people should know their roles and responsibilities in the vulnerability management process.
The Vulnerability Management Process
Once the policy is drafted and in place, teams can start implementing it. The vulnerability management lifecycle can be broken down into the following steps (bear in mind, all of these steps have to be repeated regularly if you want to stay on top of threats):
Finding out the vulnerabilities: Identifying vulnerabilities in a business’ networks, systems, and IT assets can be done through vulnerability scanning (an automated process that identifies and reports exploitable weaknesses) or penetration testing (a mock attack carried out by a person who uses any weak points they find to “attack” a system like a hacker would).
Evaluating and prioritising vulnerabilities: Once there’s a list of vulnerabilities, a business doesn’t just start fixing them in any order. They need to be assessed and prioritised in order of how likely they are to be exploited and how much damage the threat actor can do through them.
It is entirely possible that there’s a vulnerability that doesn’t actually pose any threat to an organisation. That’s why they need assessing and prioritising, so serious weaknesses are dealt with first.
Remediating and mitigating: Once a team knows which vulnerabilities they need to deal with and in what order, they can start the process of fixing them. Some can be fixed with vulnerability patches. Others might not be fixable, and may require mitigation instead.
Assessing if the fixes worked: If a team doesn’t test its solutions, it won’t know whether they worked or not. This process might require additional scanning or penetration testing. That way, businesses can definitively determine if the remediation and mitigation worked.
Documenting and reporting: The team will need to document any vulnerabilities discovered as well as the steps taken towards their resolution. Of course, if there are a different sets of reports coming in from processes like scans, pen testing, or other such activities, it might help to have them all in one place.
Leading cybersecurity service provider, DigitalXRAID, recently launched a one-of-a-kind portal that “allows a company’s cybersecurity measures to be viewed from a single source and enables greater collaboration across the business.”
This portal, called OrbitalX, enables businesses to create bespoke and automated reports to provide clients with “a holistic overview and better visibility of [their] cybersecurity posture and risk.”
Reassess the cybersecurity framework from time to time: Cyber threats continue to evolve. To keep up with them, the cybersecurity industry keeps developing new methods and tools for protecting data.
A business has to keep up with both the potential threats and the available solutions in order to be truly protected. The best way of doing so is by periodically reassessing the cybersecurity framework.