Vulnerability Management (VM) is the process of proactively finding, evaluating, and mitigating security vulnerabilities, weaknesses, gaps, misconfigurations, and errors in the organization’s IT environment. The process typically extends to the entire IT environment including networks, applications, systems, infrastructure, software and third-party services, among others. Given the high costs involved, organizations simply cannot afford cyber-attacks and data breaches. Vulnerability Management, when properly planned and executed, enables organizations to stop attacks effectively and save millions of dollars.
In this article, we look at how VM helps in stopping attacks, its criticality to organizations and how to ensure it is effective in stopping attacks.
The Vulnerability Management Process: How Does it Help in Stopping Attacks?
Cyber-attacks and data breaches can take place only when attackers have entry points that are unsecured or improperly secured. In an ideal world where no vulnerabilities exist, no one would need to worry about cybersecurity. In reality, however, plenty of vulnerabilities exist, providing attackers with gateways and gaps to enter into your IT environment and exploit your resources, steal devices, and cause massive damage.
The VM process is not confined to identifying security vulnerabilities as is the case with vulnerability assessments. The vulnerability management process includes asset discovery, identification and evaluation of vulnerabilities, risk-based prioritization, vulnerability remediation and reporting. It is a continuous process that looks to fix, eliminate, patch and remediate vulnerabilities and minimize the risks attached to them.
An effective vulnerability management program will enable you to identify vulnerabilities before attackers do. This way, you can take steps to ensure that they don’t get access to these security vulnerabilities. A critical component of VM, reporting serves as a baseline for future efforts in managing vulnerabilities. It empowers organizations to streamline their efforts and continue to harden their security posture in the future.
Why is Vulnerability Management so Critical in Stopping Attacks?
Visibility into Your IT environment
You cannot stop attacks unless you know the assets present in your IT environment and all the security weaknesses and gaps that make them vulnerable. Vulnerability Management provides you enhanced visibility into your IT environment to keep track of all your assets in the fast-evolving IT landscape.
This is important since you become aware of the changing risks associated with your assets and if newer threats or other external changes (vendor going out of business, a global pandemic, natural disaster, cyberattack on a service provider) have created new vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure.
You are essentially evaluating and securing your IT infrastructure through a thorough search and remediation process, rather than leaving it up to chance with unprotected vulnerabilities.
Anything could be a vulnerability!
Virtually anything could become a security vulnerability, from applications containing legacy components, old software versions and outdated OS to even employees and users. In the fast-changing IT environment with several moving parts, third-party components and services, it is easy to miss updates, and this creates new vulnerabilities.
Constant technology up-gradation renders some of the existing technology redundant, leading service providers to abandon products and services. As a result, there is a growing set of legacy parts and components within your IT environment. In 2018, attackers leveraged unused features in Facebook to breach user accounts, compromising 50 million user accounts.
Data suggests that 95% of all cyberattacks are caused by human error. This shows humans are the weakest link in security. A robust vulnerability management program will include ways to minimize risks associated with human user behavior.
The growing attack surface provides new entry points for attackers.
The attack surface is growing at a rapid pace especially after the COVID-19 pandemic which forced immediate digital transformation. The number of IoT devices and BYOD devices is increasing. Public and hybrid clouds are widely used. Plus, we also widely leverage open-source tools and components. Well-planned Vulnerability Management enables businesses to minimize security risk exposures.
Fixing Every Vulnerability is Impossible
Data suggests that 60% of data breaches resulted from unpatched vulnerabilities. However, given the growing number of vulnerabilities, it is not possible to fix everything. A good vulnerability management program will prioritize vulnerabilities and focus on fixing the critical and high-risk ones first. Low-risk vulnerabilities may not need fixing, and simple virtual patching will suffice. Solutions like AppTrana virtually patch all vulnerabilities instantly, giving developers time to fix them.
In addition, awareness programs can be conducted for employees, informing them about the different types of online behavior that create room for vulnerabilities. Good cyber ethics among employees will ensure a safer working environment.
Effective Vulnerability Management gives you the first-mover advantage in preventing data breaches. By identifying security vulnerabilities before attackers, you have the time to effectively remediate them and reduce the risks associated. Build an effective, tailored, and managed VM Program at the earliest to protect your mission-critical assets.
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Originally published at https://www.indusface.com on June 1, 2021.