Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated each day. Hence, it’s important to constantly test, assess, report, and treat potential vulnerabilities within a system or software to keep it secure. Any weakness or inconsistencies can be taken advantage of by malicious users and cyber-thefts who can erode systems, expose confidential data, or inject malicious programs that will put your network under threat.
To avoid getting exposed or taken advantage of cyber-attackers, your business must have a vulnerability management strategy that can help ensure the safety and protection of all system data. Vulnerability management entails several steps, as this requires regular risk assessments and identification of weaknesses and vulnerabilities within a system.
Below are the steps to create a successful vulnerable management strategy.
1. Distinguish Your Vulnerabilities
To distinguish or identify vulnerabilities, there are four stages to go through:
- First Stage
The first step is to ascertain the valuable assets of the business. You cannot implement an effective risk management program until the properties that require protection have been identified. This category encompasses computing systems, storage devices, networks, and data formats, and third-party systems connected to the organization’s network.
Next, you can determine the classification and prioritization of assets by their inherent and actual risk to the organization. When choosing the inherent risk of an asset, a variety of factors must be considered, including the asset’s physical or logical relationship to higher-classified properties, user access, and device availability.
For example, priority would be accorded to assets with a higher level of criticality over those with a lower level of criticality. On the other hand, less critical properties should not be overlooked or put off indefinitely. Each asset contributes to the business’s overall risk, and remediation efforts should always be focused on mitigating overall risk.
- Second Stage
The second step is to ascertain who is accountable for each scheme. Owners of devices are mainly responsible for the asset, the risk it presents, and the liability associated with its compromise. Accountability is critical to the overall success of the program. Orphaned resources and vulnerabilities will be overlooked, posing a risk to the business that is unknown.
- Third Stage
In the third stage, the scanning frequency is established. To identify all potential vulnerabilities in an organization’s infrastructure, the organization should conduct a weekly scan using a reliable vulnerability software testing tool. You can click for more information if you want to know the appropriate testing approach.
By scanning frequently, asset owners can track remediation progress, identify new threats, and realign remediation priorities based on updated intelligence. Vulnerability scanning should be performed at the very least once a month.
- Fourth Stage
The fourth and last phase is to establish and document timelines and thresholds for remediation. Timelines for remediation should consider the magnitude of the effects of known vulnerability exploitation. Vulnerabilities with the highest potential for harm should be addressed immediately.
If a vulnerability cannot be fixed within the specified period, the software should include a waiver provision. Remediation exception processes would track the accepted risk and a schedule for resolving the vulnerability by a specified date.
2. Evaluate Vulnerabilities
Once you’ve identified all of your system’s vulnerabilities, you’ll need to assess them to manage threats more effectively, following your company’s risk management strategy. While various vulnerability management systems utilize different risk ratings and vulnerability scores, the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) serves as a common framework for developing new programs.
While vulnerability scores can help organizations prioritize newly discovered vulnerabilities, it is critical to consider additional factors to get a complete picture of the actual risk posed by any given situation. Additionally, vulnerability scanners generate false positives on occasion, emphasizing the critical nature of using additional factors to risk scores at this point.
It is a difficult period. The company’s first consideration should be what it should evaluate. A business would be unable to prioritize devices without a detailed asset inventory. Additionally, even if some hosts are critical targets for attack, it’s easy to overlook them.
Unfortunately, specific scanners produce erroneous evaluation results, causing the business to take the wrong path. False positives may occur, but specific scanning tools routinely generate false positives for non-existent threats. These situations can result in the misappropriation of funds.
Another type of issue that occurs during this stage is disruption. Ethical hacking and penetration testing techniques can hurt the network, servers, and workstations. Additionally, networking equipment such as firewalls degrades performance, particularly during denial-of-service attacks.
3. Address And Treat Vulnerabilities
It is critical to prioritize the vulnerabilities you discover and work quickly with the original company or network stakeholders to resolve them. Depending on the severity of the vulnerability, treatment typically takes one of three paths:
Completely resolving or patching a flaw, if possible, prevents it from being abused.
When remediation is not possible, an organization can mitigate the risk of a vulnerability being exploited by implementing compensating controls. It should be a temporary fix that enables a business to address the vulnerability more thoroughly later.
Suppose an organization determines that a vulnerability is low-risk or that the cost of remediation is significantly greater than exploitation. In that case, it may choose not to patch it.
When determining individual treatment strategies, an organization’s security team, device owners, and system administrators should collaborate and select the most appropriate remediation approach—whether issuing a software patch or refreshing a fleet of physical servers. After completing the remediation, a vulnerability check should be performed to ensure that it has been successfully resolved or mitigated.
4. Report and Monitor
Following the vulnerability assessment stage, the reporting and remediation stage occurs. Reporting and remediation are the two most critical steps in this process. System administrators can use reporting to determine the current state of security in their organization and the areas where it remains vulnerable and alert the person in charge.
Additionally, monitoring provides management with a measurable reference point against comparing the organization’s future course. Reporting is typically performed before remediation to ensure that all information gathered during the vulnerability management process is seamlessly transferred to this phase.
The first step in completing the vulnerability management cycle is remediation. As previously stated, after analyzing threats and vulnerabilities and outlining appropriate risks, the vulnerability management process terminates prematurely but it is accomplished through remediation, which identifies solutions to discovered threats and weaknesses.
All vulnerable hosts, servers, and networking devices are identified, and protective measures are implemented to plug the holes and prevent future attacks. It is the most critical component of the vulnerability management strategy.
The method by which you assess your vulnerabilities is critical if you want to mitigate risks, threats, and data breaches more effectively. Even if your vulnerability management strategy is quite mature, it’s always a good idea to revisit it and ensure that you’re doing everything possible to strengthen your business’s security.