4 Must-Haves for Your Vulnerability Management Strategy Today

4 Must-Haves for Your Vulnerability Management Strategy Today

By now, it should be crystal clear that having a vulnerability management strategy is key to keeping your network safe from exploitations and ensuring it is compliant with regulatory requirements. In today’s fast-paced, IT-dependent business world, a strong vulnerability management program will detect, identify, rank, improve and remediate vulnerabilities found in software and networks.

But not all programs are created equal. There are some essential elements to incorporate to help your security team provide better protection from breaches and give them the ability to innovate more quickly.

Here are four core elements of a vulnerability management strategy:

1. Know what you have. Visibility is critical. You must be able to identify the vulnerabilities that exist throughout your IT environment. This requires defining your IT assets—which has grown more challenging as companies’ IT environments become more vast, complex and interconnected.

In the case of the Log4j vulnerability discovered in late 2021 in the Apache Java library for logging error messages, the flaw enabled a remote attacker to take control of a device on the internet. It was dangerous because of how hard it was to detect and how ubiquitous the Log4j library is. Log4j continues to wreak havoc today. CISA advises organizations to continue identifying and remediating vulnerable Log4j instances and “plan for long-term vulnerability management.”

This applies to other open source dependencies as well because open source tools are so widely used.

2. New, updated information. Threats continue to evolve and your vulnerability management program needs to be a dynamic environment that keeps you updated as new bugs are detected. The rise in remote work, distributed teams and cloud-connected devices all create the potential for increased exposure and need regular and consistent monitoring.

3. Meaningful Prioritization. If you’re only relying on the Common Vulnerability Severity Score (CVSS) to communicate a software vulnerability’s characteristics and severity, you’re not doing your due diligence. There is too much important information that the CVSS score doesn’t cover, such as context. For example, the score doesn’t address whether a flaw resides in one system or 1,000. And one of those systems could be critical to your environment.

You also can’t rely solely on vendors to release CVEs—not all do. If they do issue the information, they may limit what they provide or bundle multiple bug reports into one CVE.

For security teams to effectively patch software, officials must be able to identify the most critical software targets within the organization as well as use third-party providers to prioritize the most important patches. Organizations should also focus on post-vulnerability disclosure when changes occur to the threat landscape, such as patch revisions and exploit releases.

Once again, this makes a compelling case for dynamic enterprise risk assessments, and for security teams to monitor threat intelligence sources. That way, they are notified whenever a bug is incorporated into ransomware or an exploit kit, or when an online exploit is released. This may require a shift in resources to stay abreast with what is happening in the threat landscape

4. Automation. Just as flagging bugs has become a core principle of good cyber hygiene, so too, is quick remediation. There is a strong need for automated solutions and continuous vulnerability management. IT should look for a more automated and supported approach to maintain the visibility required for dynamic environments and changing threat landscape.

Key elements of the vulnerability patch management program should be automated to help security teams respond to changes more intelligently. Start with ticketing. Tickets can be created using a vulnerability grouping algorithm that estimates how the vulnerabilities will be patched or mitigated, such as by vulnerability by operating system.

Automating patch management will help your security team be predictive and proactive and take some of the pressure off. An automated system will do the lion’s share of the work and provide analysis, but there will still be a human-in-the-loop component to take the appropriate action based on the analysis that was provided.

Security teams should also automate vulnerability assessments on all endpoints used on or off the network. Automation increases accuracy, reduces the chance of human error, increases compliance with SLAs, and makes your vulnerability management team more efficient. This is more important than ever as security teams are being tasked with doing more with less.

Taking the time to implement these steps with the right solution will ensure you have an effective vulnerability management posture to protect your organization from a breach.

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