Vulnerability Management Program Overview

Vulnerability Management Program Overview

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What is Vulnerability Management?

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Vulnerability management is widely described as the practice of identifying, classifying, remediating, and mitigating weaknesses in an IT environment. It is also described as the discovery, reporting, prioritization and response to vulnerabilities in your network.

Given the countless examples of the devastating consequences that result when threat actors are able to exploit weaknesses, having a vulnerability management program is no longer optional for organizations. In fact, it is becoming required by multiple compliance, audit, and risk management frameworks. Continuous vulnerability management is on the Center for Internet Security's (CIS) list of basic security controls, citing that organizations need to “continuously acquire, assess, and take action on new information in order to identify vulnerabilities, and to remediate and minimize the window of opportunity for attackers.”

You can’t stop what you can’t see. Organizations need to know what is on their network in order to monitor and protect it, which is why a vulnerability management program should be a foundation of your security infrastructure. A good vulnerability management program can help you proactively understand the risks to ever asset in order to keep it safe.

Four Stages of Vulnerability Management

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Discovery
Build a list of every computing asset you have on your network and then build a database that vulnerability management solutions can use. This list will constantly be changing so it will need to be regularly updated. Make sure all assets are found, categorized, and assessed.

Reporting
This will include all data from your network assets on their current state. Typically, this is done with a vulnerability scanner which will produce a report of all known vulnerabilities on any assets in your network.

Prioritization
Depending on the size of your organization or the age of your assets, the list of known vulnerabilities can be quite long. Vulnerabilities will be ranked from highest to lowest risk depending on multiple factors. Your vulnerability management solution should prioritize these by the MITRE Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) Score, as well as by the unique risk they pose to your organization.

Response
The goal of discovering, reporting, and prioritizing your vulnerabilities is so that your team can focus on remediating the largest risks in your network. Once you fix these vulnerabilities, you should conduct a penetration test to ensure that issue is fully solved before moving on to the next vulnerability.

How can you benefit from a vulnerability management program?

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There are thousands of known vulnerabilities in the wild, most of them with patches. However, not all vulnerabilities are equal which is why you need to handle them appropriately. By implementing a vulnerability management program, you can:
  •  Intelligently Manage Vulnerabilities: Not all vulnerabilities carry the same risks. With a vulnerability management program your organization can more intelligently prioritize remediation, apply security patches, and allocate security resources more effectively.
  •  Meet regulatory requirements and avoid fines: Vulnerability management programs not only help your organization by keeping you compliant across industry regulations but it can also help you to provide detailed reports to help avoid significant fines for non-compliance and allow you to provide ongoing due diligence during any audit.

Who needs a vulnerability management program?

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Anyone who has assets connected to the internet needs a vulnerability management program. Many industries are requiring one in order to be compliant with regulations. Attacks resulting in data loss are often caused by breaches using known, unpatched vulnerabilities. If you have any asset on your network that is not patched regularly, a vulnerability management program is for you. 

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