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What Is Vulnerability Management?   

14 October 2022

With the rapid changes in how organisations work driven by external factors such as COVID-19 and rapid demands placed on IT teams, the potential for vulnerabilities to occur has increased. This has raised the associated risk of becoming a victim of high-impact cyber-attacks. Network security standards are constantly changing, and cybersecurity challenges keep security teams busy.    

With these increased risks posing a threat across industries, many organisations are focused on developing a mature cybersecurity program to mitigate cybersecurity risks.  

Every organisation has specific data/technology security risks depending on its product or service, size, industry, and architecture.  

To address these risks, security teams must identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover in a way that goes beyond cybersecurity compliance requirements.    

Mature cybersecurity programs help manage risk and mitigate the impact of successful attacks. Vulnerability management is one of these ways.

Most cybersecurity programs will include but are not limited to:     

  • Vulnerability Management      
  • Patching Management      
  • Secure Configuration      
  • Endpoint Protection      
  • User Awareness Training      
  • Content Filtering      
  • Incident Response Plans      
  • Third-Party Risk Assessments      
  • Multi-Factor Authentication      

It is essential to have regular backups of critical data and ensure that they are tested and stored securely offline where cyber-attacks cannot damage them.    

A mature cybersecurity programme minimises risks for organisations, with a critical element being vulnerability management.    

Vulnerability Management

What is Vulnerability Management?    

Vulnerability management enables an organisation to identify weaknesses which could pose a risk due to incorrect configurations or commonly missing patches. It is a cyclical process that involves identifying IT assets and associating them with an ongoing vulnerability database. Another part of vulnerability management entails quickly responding to significant threats and validating the urgency and significance of each vulnerability by considering numerous risk criteria and responding to them accordingly.  

A strong vulnerability management program prioritises risks and addresses vulnerabilities as soon as feasible using threat intelligence and IT and organisation operations knowledge.   

Vulnerability Management Process   

Vulnerability Management Process   

The fundamental stages of vulnerability management are identifying, evaluating, treating and reporting vulnerabilities. 

Identify Vulnerabilities    

Finding vulnerabilities in a system by routine network scanning, firewall monitoring, penetration testing, or using a vulnerability scanner is at the core of every vulnerability management strategy. Automated vulnerability scanning can examine your system, network, and apps for flaws like SQL injection or cross-site scripting.    

A vulnerability management solution must have appropriately configured vulnerability scans. Sometimes, vulnerability scanners can cause issues on the networks and systems they are scanning when performed within working hours. Scheduling vulnerability scanning to be performed after hours is ideal if network bandwidth becomes extremely constrained during an organisation’s busiest times.   

Evaluate Vulnerabilities    

After the team finds vulnerabilities, teams must evaluate them to be prioritised and dealt with by the organisation’s risk management strategies. As a result, this entails identifying weak areas that could lead to malware assaults or other malicious events by evaluating network scans, penetration test findings, firewall logs, and vulnerability scans.    

Here are some examples of other elements to consider while assessing vulnerabilities:   

  • A genuine or false positive is this vulnerability?   
  • Could someone use the internet to exploit this weakness directly?   
  • How challenging is it to exploit this weakness?   
  • What would happen to the organisation if attackers used this vulnerability against it?   
  • Are other security measures that lessen the possibility and effects of this vulnerability? 

For organisations to concentrate on addressing actual vulnerabilities, doing vulnerability validation with penetration testing tools and procedures helps weed out false positives.   

Click here for more information about penetration testing.   

Treating Vulnerabilities  

Treatment for vulnerabilities can take many different forms, including:  

Remediation

Thoroughly addressing or correcting a weakness to prevent exploitation. Organisations want to make this the primary treatment option.   

Mitigation

Reduce the risk of attackers exploiting a vulnerability and its effects. Occasionally this is required when a suitable repair or patch is not yet available for a vulnerability. Teams should ideally use this method to eventually gain time for an organisation to fix a vulnerability.    

Acceptance

Not taking steps to address a vulnerability or decrease the possibility or impact of exploitation. Sometimes, this is acceptable when a vulnerability is a minimal risk, and its remediation costs are disproportionately higher than the costs an organisation would suffer if it were to be exploited.    

Reporting Vulnerabilities     

Organisations can gauge the effectiveness of vulnerability management over time by conducting regular and ongoing vulnerability assessments.  

Vulnerability management can utilise various customised reports and dashboards, offering options for exporting and viewing vulnerability scan results and associated metrics. 

This allows IT teams to keep track of vulnerability patterns over time in various areas of their network and their ability to remediate them effectively. It also supports organisations’ compliance and regulatory requirements. 

Best Practices for Vulnerability Management

Sapphire Best Practices for Vulnerability Management

Sapphire provides a fully managed vulnerability management service that customises customer-specific data and dashboards. We also provide professional evaluations of findings.  

Additionally, Sapphire’s vulnerability management service can provide the following: 

  • A fully scoped-out customer environment    
  • Each customer gets their administration platform    
  • Initial service start-up and architecture    
  • Project management keeps track of everything   

With the industry’s most significant asset and vulnerability coverage, you can scan quickly and accurately both inside and externally.    

Our managed service also includes a quarterly evaluation of all platform components, including patches, incremental updates, and version upgrades, and a quarterly system health check.    

Vulnerability Management

Please contact us below for more information on vulnerability management or Sapphire’s services.

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