Many winning vulnerability management programs have evolved to include additional solutions and workflows, beyond scanning, adding to a larger picture required to truly understand how an adversary could and will attack. Here are few best practices to keep in mind when maturing your own vulnerability management program:
1. Understand your company’s risk
Do you know how much risk is acceptable to your company? Threats are a fast moving battlefront and every organization needs to understand the downstream risks of their individual actions. New vulnerabilities are discovered each day and the speed at which they are created makes securing your critical assets even harder. The solution is to strengthen or protect your infrastructure from these threats.
2. “Scanning isn’t your get out of jail free card.” – There is such a thing as too much data.
Too much vulnerable data is a problem when building any sort of risk assessment. Did you know that “44% of breaches are due to known vulnerabilities that are two to four years old” (HP Cyber Risk Report)? In many organizations, there are no effective processes in place to consolidate and prioritize results, thus not addressing those critical vulnerabilities. Most organizations use traditional scanning to uncover vulnerabilities, but this approach is often a flop – too much data is a problem. IT security teams are drowning in data, producing the infamous “300-page report” with a mind-numbing table of vulnerabilities and no business context, risk prioritization, or actionable quick fixes.
3. Prioritize your threats and critical vulnerabilities
How do you determine which are critical and which aren’t? Traditional vulnerability management solutions often produce thousands of “high severity” vulnerabilities which only feeds the “too much data” problem. To successfully remediate your critical vulnerabilities, you need to be able to create a short list of action items that can be completed quickly to reduce and eliminate the risk of exploitation. Prioritization based on previous critical assets, exploit types, business risk, among other things, can help reduce this overload. Once the data is prioritized, automating the analysis of the vulnerabilities will allow remediation efforts to focus on critical risks and not waste time and resources chasing low-risk assets. Don’t let critical vulnerabilities be your downfall.
4. A Holistic Defense
Most attacks today incorporate multiple steps, crossing different vectors (Network, Web, Mobile, Wireless, Endpoint). An isolated view of any of these steps could appear harmless– causing a potential drastic oversight. There are two approaches to expand your awareness:
- Asset Categorization and Prioritization: An approach that helps determine whether the vulnerability is threatening an important system and what will happen if it is exploited.
- Attack Path Analysis: An approach that demonstrates how attackers can chain vulnerabilities across vectors to move through your environment. An effective vulnerability management program is impossible to do manually. Organizations need to simplify each element of their programs to win at reducing their risk and protecting their critical assets.