FUNDAMENTALS

Vulnerability Management

What is vulnerability management?

First, let's explain what a vulnerability is. A vulnerability is a weakness that can be exploited to gain unauthorized access or privileged control of a computer or operating system, application, service, endpoint, or server.

Vulnerability management is the ongoing practice of identifying, prioritizing and remediating vulnerabilities. It can also be described as a proactive and systematic response to vulnerabilities in your IT environment. Implementing vulnerability management is crucial for organizations that want to increase their security posture and minimize their attack surface.

Achieving excellent visibility into vulnerabilities across all ecosystems is challenging, something cybercriminals capitalize on. A modern vulnerability management solution will simplify the process of identifying, categorizing, prioritizing, and remediating vulnerabilities across systems and users.

Addressing threats with modern vulnerability management

A solid cyber security defense is a corporate necessity. With a proactive approach, you'll avoid both disruptive attacks, strained IT resources, a tarnished brand image, or even legal consequences. Creating a robust cyber security defense requires you to take active initiatives. Your scope should include detecting various vulnerabilities and potential risks in systems, web applications, and employees. 

Proactive security measures

Vulnerability management is a proactive security measure, the act of searching for security gaps that exist before they are exploited. However, vulnerability management is more than patching and reconfiguring security settings; it necessitates a continuous approach to IT across the organization.  

Vulnerability management process


1. Discovery

The discovery phase is about understanding which assets are present in the IT environment. Including physical and virtual networks, on-premises, cloud networks, or any other potential attack surface that an attacker might use.

Asset discovery is the process of mapping assets and creating a database to scan for vulnerabilities. So, once you know what vulnerabilities or types of vulnerabilities you are looking for, you can begin identifying which are present. This stage uses threat intelligence information, vulnerability data, scanners and creates an inventory for patch management.  

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Gather data

Keep your data up to date to avoid getting caught off guard by any potential intrusions or data leaks.  

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Endpoint agents

You can use an endpoint agent instead of a vulnerability scanner to scan critical infrastructure or remote workers. 

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Complete attack surface

Create a complete map of your attack surface, including all the critical assets that store data – from hardware to software vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Management Process

2. Assessment

After every asset has been identified, you should decide where to put security efforts and reduce potential risks. The vulnerabilities will be ranked from highest to lowest risk in this step, depending on multiple factors. A vulnerability management platform helps to prioritize vulnerabilities based on the MITRE CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure) score and threat intelligence.   

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Asset classification

It's impossible to identify and patch every single vulnerability. Instead, you must identify all priority assets that would cause severe damage to the business if they were compromised. You need to understand the cyber exposure of all assets, including vulnerabilities, misconfiguration, and other indicators.

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Baseline risk profile

Create a detailed picture of the organizational structure, current software, and programs used. Understanding the configuration and technology present in your organization will make identifying weak spots and prioritizing patching easier.

VULNERABILITY MANAGEMENT PROCESS

3. Remediation

Your team should focus on vulnerabilities that expose your organization to the most significant risk. This would include remediating critical vulnerabilities and eliminating false positives.   

Vulnerable assets

Remediating vulnerable assets often requires deploying an upgrade or patch, per the recommendation of the affected software vendor. Patch deployment is challenging, with tests and patches taking up both valuable time and resources. The deployment process might impact business-critical operating systems and infrastructure or the application itself.   

Another way to remediate a vulnerability would be to update the system, platform, or service configurations and wait for patch deployment. Once you patch the vulnerability, you should ensure that your vulnerability management platform will verify your patches.  

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VULNERABILITY MANAGEMENT PROCESS

4. Reporting

The last step in the vulnerability management process is internal communication, specifically reporting. Information about vulnerabilities should be easy enough to be interpreted by all affected levels of the organization.

Reporting includes analyzing vulnerability data, tracking patterns and trends, and identifying issues that warrant further investigation. Reports help improve business and security posture management, current development over time, and other corporate risk management processes.   

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Benefits of a vulnerability management program

Implementing a vulnerability management program helps you:  

  • Strengthen your security posture against cyberthreats
  • Remediate vulnerabilities and build your cyber security defense
  • Adopt a proactive approach, allowing you to be one step ahead of cybercriminals
  • Identify weaknesses in user behaviors and educate your employees on the last phishing scams.
  • Improve visibility in the remote workforce and all systems
  • Demonstrate compliance
  • Improve internal communication about cyber security and the latest vulnerabilities and threats

The objective way of assessing security

Vulnerability assessment systematically looks for unlocked doors, bad code, open ports, or other security weaknesses in an information system. Vulnerability assessment provides you with an objective overview of how susceptible your systems are to any known vulnerabilities, by assigning severity levels to the vulnerabilities, and recommending remediation or mitigation steps if needed.

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Web application scanners

Crawl through the pages of web applications to detect security vulnerabilities, malware, and logical flaws. 

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Protocol scanners

Search for vulnerable protocols, ports, and network services. 

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Network scanners

Detect known vulnerabilities of computing systems available on a network. Identify weak spots in application software or the operating system.

What is security posture?

The overall cyber security defense of an organization is known as security posture. This includes how well an organization can predict, prevent, and respond to cyber threats. It also covers visibility into the company’s attack surface and ability to react and recover from security breaches. 

To understand and optimize your security posture, you need to:  

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Assess

Evaluate vulnerabilities risk-based across a broad range of attack vectors like unpatched software, phishing, misconfigurations, password issues, etc.  

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Identify gaps

Know which steps are needed to improve the cyber security posture going forward. Continuously review gaps in your security controls and make appropriate changes. 

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Take action

Take action to eliminate known gaps. An effective cyber security posture is developed through the right combination of tools, techniques, and approaches.  

Threat intelligence

Many organizations face identifying vulnerabilities and developing a decision-making process to prioritize patches with limited resources.Threat intelligence can help you understand what threats are most likely to affect your organization by focusing on the continuous identification, assessment, reporting, and remediation of security exposures using critical risk assessment and threat intelligence.

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is organized, analyzed, and refined information about potential or current attacks that put your organization at risk. A risk-based approach to vulnerability management should be imperative for all organizations that want to defend their business successfully. Finding the right vulnerability management platform tool will help to better prepare your team defensively against cyber-attacks.

What to look for in a vulnerability management solution

Choosing between vulnerability management solutions can be quite a complex process. You should always start by identifying what your organization needs and ensuring the solutions you're evaluating meet those needs.

Here are some key questions to keep in mind when assessing a vulnerability management solution:  

  • How much time is required to get the system up and running? 
  • Does the tool run non-intrusively? 
  • Does the vulnerability scoring incorporate real-time threat intelligence about current exploits — or does it only look at historical data? 
  • Does the vendor provide agents that work with cloud-based and purely on-premises deployments? 
  • Does the tool easily integrate with other security systems, such as SIEM (security information and event management) and IDS (intrusion detection systems)? 
  • Can I easily customize reporting for my specific needs?  

Vulnerability Management Solution

Holm Security VMP

Holm Security VMP is a modern vulnerability management solution delivering unparalleled 360-degree coverage and comprehensive insight. Detect vulnerabilities, assess risk, and prioritize remediation for every asset in your entire infrastructure.

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