Understanding Vulnerability Management

These days, data and information is everything to companies and organizations. These establishments over time collect incredible amounts of information that is vital to both them and their customers. Many companies used this data to better understand their customers, create new products and services, as well as update or upgrade existing products and services.

In short, in today’s world, businesses can’t afford to play with or lose their data; it’s really that important. Now, one may be wondering how companies may lose important information or get it tampered with. First, data that isn’t backed up could be lost if the system malfunctions or breaks down. Second, hackers or attackers may alter, copy, or worse, delete a company’s data by exploiting certain vulnerabilities in systems and networks. Click here to learn more about the importance of data protection.

Companies are aware of these risks and do their best to mitigate or eliminate them. The issue of lost data due to a system malfunction could easily be prevented by automating the data backup process. For cyber-attacks, however, a lot more is done to prevent those. To sum the whole thing up, organizations constantly look for any potential threats or “attack surfaces” in their systems and networks and do their best to manage those to prevent attacks.

What is Vulnerability Management?

It is the continuous process of identifying, evaluating, classifying, resolving, and reporting on security vulnerabilities in systems and the software that run on them. These systems could be enterprise applications (on-premises or cloud-based), operating systems (OS), browsers, or end-user applications.

This practice, along with several other security tactics, is crucial for companies and organizations to minimize attacks. As a matter of fact, companies are not the only ones that need this security management process. Anyone with assets connected or built around the internet will certainly benefit from this practice. In some industries, it’s even become part of their regulations.

For a vulnerability management system to be efficient, it must be run by trained experts and maintained or managed using modern technology to minimize attack surfaces. These attack surfaces can be any of several things including:

  • Networks and servers
  • Cloud infrastructures
  • Web-apps
  • Mobile devices, e.g., desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

What are Vulnerabilities?

Vulnerabilities refer to weaknesses in a system, network, or technology that allows attackers to compromise the data it holds. It can be tangible or intangible. An example of tangible vulnerabilities is ports and faulty lines while code in a program, or incorrect software are examples of intangible vulnerabilities. The possibility of an attacker gaining access to account passwords is also a threat that should be duly managed.

Building a Vulnerability Management Program

There are numerous vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to harm companies. In the world today, data protection, especially consumer data protection, is taken very seriously and companies that are careless with this data are penalized for it. Therefore, it has become necessary that organizations create or adopt a vulnerability management process or strategy.

There are two main ways business entities can build out this program:

  • Creating one internally
  • Using a vulnerability management service from an MSSP.

Building a Vulnerability Management Program

If you prefer the first option, which is creating the program internally, there are several areas that should be accounted for. These include:

  • Inventory Management: For a vulnerability management program to be effective, it should cover every one of your digital assets. After all, security patches can’t be sent for what you don’t know you have. By taking inventory of every digital asset, you can better address every loophole in your system or network.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Once you’re confident that every digital asset has been indexed, the next step is to scan for vulnerabilities. There are a host of capable scanning tools available to companies, so you’d want to make sure you have a few of the most reliable ones. It’s also important that you scan external network assets like cloud-based applications, vendor networks, and external servers, as this is crucial for thorough checks or testing.
  • Risk Assessment: It is important that you analyze the results from these scans to prioritize risks. Some vulnerabilities are more dangerous than others and these ones should be prioritized over others. For instance, say you discovered two vulnerabilities. One can be patched in less than 20 minutes while the other may take several hours. If the latter would cost you a million dollars if leveraged by a hacker, and the former won’t have any significant impact on any system, the costlier one should be prioritized and vice versa.
  • Patch Management: You need to map out how security patches will be rolled out to all network assets. Security patch updates should be consistent and timely. The timing at which patches are sent out could be based on where vulnerabilities rank in the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). This system assigns a score to vulnerabilities to show their severity. Also, you’d have to find out if some or all your networks will be disabled to fix major vulnerabilities. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Vulnerability_Scoring_System#: to learn more about CVSS.

Final Thoughts

The importance of this process to companies and organizations cannot be overemphasized. It’s even more important for companies that provide internet-based services to customers. For these companies, their credibility is tied to how they obtain, protect, and store customer data.

With important advancements in technology like 5G connectivity and more capable devices, hackers have never been stronger. While cyber security teams in companies can also use these to their advantage, they should always be on their toes, seeing as the rate at which cyber-attacks and malware cases are on the rise.