How to Avoid Common Vulnerability Management Mistakes

Hands on a keyboard with a vulnerability sign above it

Due to current challenges with vulnerability management today, it should come as no surprise that enterprises are regularly hit with cyber breaches related to software bugs. In fact, one Ponemon study finds 60% of breaches are the result of unpatched vulnerabilities. The real wonder is that it doesn’t happen more often.

When it comes to managing the software flaws that bad actors can exploit to launch attacks, there is clearly room for improvement. As pointed out in a recent CSO article, security leaders are still making a number of common mistakes and overlooking misconceptions about vulnerabilities that can enable breaches to occur.

Prioritize Vulnerabilities According to Individual Risk to the Environment

One of the biggest shortcomings of current vulnerability management strategies is that security teams do not adequately prioritize software vulnerabilities based on the risk to their organizations. The typical large organization today is running scans that identify numerous software bugs. But not all of these vulnerabilities are exploitable, and therefore they pose no real risk.

If security teams are not prioritizing vulnerabilities, they might spend a large amount of time patching bugs that are not high risk while missing the ones that actually can lead to security breaches. As the CSO article notes, this approach could have CISOs and their teams focusing limited resources on the wrong threats.

Security teams need to have a good understanding of their organization’s technology infrastructure and risk appetite, and use tools to automatically determine which vulnerabilities pose the most risk so that they can address those issues first.

Failure to Track Software Code Means You Are Flying Blind and Insecure

Another key mistake, according to the CSO article, is a failure to track code and an understanding of overall software supply chain risk. It cites research from the Linux Foundation that reveals a growing number of organizations are using a software bill of materials (SBOM) to better understand all the code they have within their systems, and that 78% of organizations expect to produce or use SBOMs in 2022—up from 66% in 2021.

But while the research data indicates a rise in the use of SBOMs, many organizations might be falling short in terms of knowing all the code that resides within their individual IT environments. This lack of visibility limits their ability to determine whether they have software vulnerabilities that need to be addressed, the article says.

Secure Design Is Essential Throughout the SDLC

Yet another big mistake security leaders and teams can make is not embedding security and secure design principles into the development process through the software development lifecycle (SDLC). To counter this they need to implement the DevSecOps model.

With DevSecOps, integrating security automatically becomes part of each phase of software development, from initial design through integration, testing, deployment, and delivery. DevSecOps is a proactive approach to software security, enabling teams to anticipate potential threats and vulnerabilities and do something about them before they become problematic.

Teams review, change, and test software code for security issues on a regular basis, and address issues as soon as they arise. Among the benefits of deploying DevSecOps within the development process is that software development teams can deliver higher quality and more secure code faster.

DevSecOps also can introduce repeatable processes, ensuring that cybersecurity measures are applied consistently throughout the environment.

By addressing or avoiding these and other mistakes, security leaders and teams can help their organizations produce software that is secure and reliable.

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