In today's digital world, the security of your organisation's digital assets is critical. An effective vulnerability management program is an essential aspect of a complete cybersecurity strategy.
In this blog, we provide an overview of what vulnerability management is, and what to consider as you design an effective vulnerability management program.
What is a vulnerability?
Vulnerabilities are flaws or weaknesses in systems, processes, or procedures. Malicious actors may exploit these flaws, resulting in data breaches, system outages, or unauthorised access.
Continuously identifying vulnerabilities is critical because it allows you to proactively modify those systems, processes, or procedures to strengthen and secure them.
Vulnerability Management Program
Vulnerability management is the continuous or manual process of identifying, classifying, analysing, prioritising, reporting, remediating, and mitigating vulnerabilities.
- Over 25,000 new common IT vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) were identified by Internet users globally in 2022, the highest recorded yearly amount to date.
- For critical severity vulnerabilities, the mean time to remediation (MTTR) is 65 days.
- In 2022, 33% of all vulnerabilities found across the whole stack were classified as high or critical.
Advantages of a Vulnerability Management Program
- Reduced Risk: Organisations may greatly decrease the risk of data breaches and attacks by proactively resolving vulnerabilities.
- Compliance: As part of their cybersecurity compliance efforts, security frameworks and industry standards can require organisations to implement a vulnerability management program.
- Financial Savings: Preventing security events through vulnerability management is less expensive than dealing with the fallout from a breach, which can include legal expenses, charges, and reputational damage.
- Business Continuity: Organisations promote efficient and more dependable business processes by eliminating risks that might interrupt operations.
- Enhanced Reputation: An organisation's dedication to cybersecurity and data protection improves its reputation, promoting trust among customers and stakeholders.
Components of Vulnerability Management
- Asset inventorying
- Inputting vulnerability data
- Correlating data with asset inventory
- Performing scan
- Assessing and prioritising findings
- Treating findings
Importance of Asset Inventory
An asset inventory provides a comprehensive overview of all the devices and software in an organisation's network. This visibility is key to understanding all aspects of your organisation’s environment, including all possible areas of vulnerability.
Correlating Data with Asset Inventory
Correlating vulnerability data with asset inventory provides insight on the risks of each assets.
It helps to associate individual vulnerabilities with the assets they effect, allowing your organisation to identify which systems are vulnerable and prioritise remediation actions accordingly.
This context allows you to focus on the vulnerabilities that pose the most risk to an organisation.
Assessing and Prioritising Vulnerabilities
- Before prioritising vulnerabilities, it is important to assess their severity, impact, exploitability, and potential impact.
- It is important for the organisation to determine the criticality of different assets, such as data, applications, and infrastructure. This assessment should take into account factors such as asset value and the potential impact of a breach on the organisation’s operations.
Vulnerabilities are commonly classified or rated as follows:
- Critical: These vulnerabilities should be prioritised for immediate remediation. Remediation should begin with identification as soon as possible (e.g. with a 3-day deadline for completion).
- High: These vulnerabilities should be reviewed and remedied as soon as possible. Remediation should begin with identification as soon as possible (e.g. with a 14-day deadline for completion).
- Medium: These vulnerabilities pose minimal risk to data security. Remediation should begin with identification as soon as possible (e.g. with a 30-day deadline for completion).
- Low: This category represents vulnerabilities that are cautionary or informational in nature. Remediation should begin with identification (e.g. with a 3-month deadline for completion).
Remediation of vulnerabilities
- Remediation of vulnerabilities is crucial to the overall process of managing vulnerabilities. It is within this step that vulnerabilities are patched, mitigated, or resolved.
- In order to create a thorough and detailed management program, vulnerabilities should be logged, including ratings, source (e.g. penetration test or scanning), and action plans, and tracked through to remediation.
- This will ensure visibility and monitoring of vulnerabilities for the organisation (and help the auditors understand how vulnerabilities are managed compared to the vulnerability management policy or other guiding documentation).
It's important to understand vulnerability management as more than a program; it is a demonstration of dedication to your organisation's digital wellbeing and the trust of its stakeholders.
In this digital era, where every byte of data counts, the commitment to cybersecurity is an investment in the longevity and success of an organisation.
With a proactive approach, you are not only protecting against threats but also building a safer, more secure digital future.
Get in touch if we can help clarify anything above or provide further reading to assist you.