Continuous Vulnerability Management

Continuous Vulnerability Management

As a cyber security professional, you understand the importance of continuous vulnerability management to security standards. As explains, you need to be aware of the ways in which you can increase your risk management efforts and how to effectively manage your security team.

That’s where continuous vulnerability management comes in.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of vulnerability management, how it can help you safeguard your organization’s data, and how to implement it.

What is Vulnerability Management and Scanning?

Vulnerability management is defined as the continual process of identifying, prioritizing, and responding to misconfigurations and software issues that attackers could exploit, resulting in the disruption of business operations or inadvertent release of sensitive data.

A security vulnerability is an error, flaw, or weakness that allows attackers to compromise the information or a product it holds. The process must be performed continuously to keep up with the changes made to systems and the new systems added to networks.

Vulnerability management (VM) software can help automate that process. They use endpoint agents and a vulnerability scanner to inventory various systems that run on a network and discover and report vulnerabilities on them.

Vulnerability Management Vs Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability assessment is different from vulnerability management. Vulnerability assessment is a one-time evaluation of a network or host, while vulnerability management is a continual or ongoing process.

A vulnerability assessment is a vital part of the VM (vulnerability management) process, but not vice versa.

The Vulnerability Management Process

Each new vulnerability introduces risk to your organization. Therefore, a defined process is used to offer organizations a way to discover and address vulnerabilities continually and quickly.

The vulnerability management process can be broken down into four steps. They include:

  • Discover
  • Evaluating
  • Treating
  • Reporting

1. Discover vulnerabilities

You cannot secure what you are unaware of. You will need to perform internal and external network scans to identify new and existing vulnerabilities.

That process usually includes gathering system information, comparing system information with common vulnerabilities, and scanning network-accessible systems.

2. Evaluation vulnerabilities

After vulnerabilities are discovered, it’s time to evaluate the risks they pose and rightly deal with them according to the risk management strategies of your organization.

That involves penetration test results, analyzing scans, vulnerability scans, and firewall logs to pinpoint the weak points that may trigger possible malware attacks.

3. Treating vulnerabilities

The next step is to treat the vulnerabilities or the gaps discovered.

Your vulnerability management solution will most likely recommend the treatment technique to use for each vulnerability. So your system owners, system administrators, and security team should weigh in to determine the best strategy.

Here are the different routes to treat vulnerabilities:

  • Remediation: Fully preventing exploitation by replacing, correcting, or patching code that contains a vulnerability.
  • Mitigation: Lessening the impact or probability of a vulnerability. This option usually is a temporary solution an organization uses until it can remediate the vulnerability.
  • Acceptance: Accepting and acknowledging the vulnerability. An organization does this when the cost of fixing the vulnerability is much higher than the cost incurred if the vulnerability were to be exposed.

After you are done with the treating process, consider performing another scan to confirm if the vulnerability was entirely resolved.

4. Reporting

Performing continuous and regular vulnerability assessments enables an organization to understand the efficiency and speed of its vulnerability management program.

Vulnerability management solutions have different options for visualizing and exporting vulnerability scan data with a wide variety of dashboards and customizable reports. This helps IT teams easily understand every asset’s security posture and monitor vulnerability trends with time in different parts of their networks.

Consistent reporting also helps security IT teams to comply with the organizations’ risk management KPIs and regular requirements.

Continuous Vulnerability Management Final Thoughts

Managing exposures to common vulnerabilities is the key responsibility of a vulnerability manager.

Even though VM involves more than running a scanning tool, a quality vulnerability toolset can significantly boost the ongoing and implementation success of the VM program.

Note that your organization doesn’t need a complicated toolset and solutions that may require personnel with specialized skills. It needs an integrated platform that includes VM tools and other tools for device control, cyber hygiene, etc.