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According to our Cybersecurity Glossary, a vulnerability can be defined as follows:

A vulnerability is a hole in computer security, that leaves the system open to damages caused by cyber attackers. Vulnerabilities have to solved as soon as they are discovered, before a cybercriminal takes advantage and exploits them.

This brings us to the definition of vulnerability management:

Vulnerability Management refers to the security practices that proactively identify, prevent, mitigate, and classify vulnerabilities within an IT system, and is an important part of any cybersecurity strategy. Some cybersecurity analysts even say that Vulnerability Management is the foundation of information security programs.

Vulnerability management programs are used to identify, rank, emphasize, improve, and rectify vulnerabilities that are usually found in software and networks. While not incompatible with vulnerability management, vulnerability assessments are usually part of a vulnerability management program as they help identify, evaluate, and rank vulnerabilities in a system. An assessment comes across those vulnerabilities and decides in what order they should be fixed. The vulnerability management program classifies them, suggests the remediation plan, and acts upon the mitigation strategy.

The Pillars of Vulnerability Management

When looking to implement or improve their vulnerability management program organizations have a framework to take as an example. Most programs sum up vulnerability management with five key pillars:

#1. Identification

The first and most important phase of a vulnerability management process is to reveal all of the vulnerabilities that may exist across your environment. Identification is crucial for an organization to know what vulnerabilities are potential threats.

#2. Classification

The ability to organize identified vulnerabilities into groups for classification helps with the remaining pillars by making ranking, remediation, and mitigation simpler.

#3. Ranking

Vulnerabilities should be prioritized by their severity. Vulnerability scores (CVSS) can help you determine how to rank the vulnerabilities they’ve discovered, but it’s also important to consider other factors to form a complete understanding of the true risk posed by any given vulnerability. The gravity of a vulnerability should determine how quickly it is remediated.

#4. Remediation

Remediating a vulnerability means taking measures to fix it by closing open ports, patching software, or using a detailed process exception. The majority of organizations remediate vulnerabilities once they’ve understood the risks and prioritized them. Generally, this is the most preferable option whenever possible.

#5. Mitigation

This step refers to implementing precautionary measures (threat intelligence feeds, entity behavior analytics, intrusion detection with prevention) to prevent the vulnerability from happening again. Your ultimate purpose is to reduce the systems’ attack surface. However, this solution should be a temporary one, buying time for your organization to subsequently remediate the vulnerability.

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How to Build an Effective Vulnerability Management Program

 

To build an effective vulnerability management program, four key aspects need to be taken into consideration:

Asset Management

Since you cannot protect what you don’t know about, you need to consider implementing asset management. Your company network IT asset management department is there to ensure that the technology the business operates on is not taken for granted, but administrated correctly. Commonly known as IT asset inventory management, ITAM involves keeping a detailed record of the software and hardware of an enterprise. This list is then used to make decisions about existing assets, as well as future purchases.

Vulnerability Management

Vulnerable assets? You need a way to quickly evaluate them. And vulnerability management is all you need when it comes to managing the vulnerabilities of your assets. A successful vulnerability management program constantly reduces information security risk within the organization and goes along with your business strategies.

Threat Risk & Prioritization

Determining what risks identified vulnerabilities pose requires assistance and an ability to prioritize response. If a vulnerability is deemed low-risk or the cost of remediating it is much greater than it would be if it were exploited, your organization can simply choose not to take measures to fix it.

Patch Management

To remediate vulnerabilities, your vulnerability management program must have the ability to update OS and apps with settings and patches. Patch management plays a significant role in ensuring strong organizational protection. However, by all means, it should not be viewed as the answer to solving all security issues, but as an essential layer of protection for your business, alongside DNS filtering, next-gen Antivirus & Firewall, and Privileged Access Management (PAM).

The fast change rate in hacking methods and techniques in the current cybersecurity landscape has made the idea of a safe environment more and more difficult, causing many organizations and individuals to simply react to these threats. However, organizations that are taking their cybersecurity status seriously are looking for ways to foresightedly seek those vulnerabilities throughout the network environment that hackers would exploit to gain access and follow through with their actions to a malicious end.

Wrapping It Up…

One way or another, vulnerabilities need to be remediated. Too many times have organizations sat back and acknowledged minimal vulnerabilities because of time or profit loss impediments only to have a major security breach occur not long afterward. Bypassing these threats by implementing a firm vulnerability management program makes sure that you can identify, inform, and prioritize vulnerabilities before they turn into a data breach. Thus, your organization can engage a solid security standpoint regardless of what threat actor tries to breach your network.

Maintaining and supporting a continuous vulnerability management program allows you to assess the effectiveness of its vulnerability discovery, analysis, and mitigation, and provides guidance in future decision-making.

You should always make the necessary adjustments in your processes along the way, ensuring that your company maintains an exhaustive understanding of its critical assets and keeps its infrastructure secured.

What is Vulnerability Management?

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