What is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability Management Overview

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What is Vulnerability Management?

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What is Vulnerability Management? 

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

 Vulnerability management is no longer an option for organizations, in fact, it is becoming required by multiple compliance, audit and risk management frameworks. SANS Security Controls lists continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation as number four on their most recent framework citing that it needs 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. That’s why vulnerability management should be the foundation of your security program because you have to know what is on your network in order to monitor and protect it. 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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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 be constantly changing so it will need to be constantly refreshed. However, make sure all assets are found, categorized and assessed.

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. 

Depending on the size of your organization or the age of your assets, the list of known vulnerabilities can be pages long. In this step, the 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 and by the unique risk they pose to your organization.

The goal of discovering, reporting and prioritizing your vulnerabilities is so that your team can focus its remediation to the largest risks in your network. Once you remediate or patch these vulnerabilities, you should conduct a penetration test to ensure that the patch is valid and that you no longer have an issue 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 the equal which is why you need to manage them. Using 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. 

Ready to Build Your Vulnerability Management Program?

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In our eBook, 5 Steps to Building a Vulnerability Management Program, we show you five ways to get started building and/or improving your program. Download our free eBook and get started today!
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