Vulnerability management: Top considerations for security teams

The soaring number of cyber attacks in today’s business environment is an inconvenient reality we all have to face. Regardless of whether you are a startup, small or midsize enterprise or a multinational corporation, your organisation is always at risk.

One element of your business that hackers exploit consistently is the low-hanging vulnerabilities in your software and systems. When these vulnerabilities go undetected and without being patched, they are a portal of direct access for more malicious actors.

The global Microsoft email hack that happened recently is a great example of how hackers take advantage of our weaknesses. As of last week, thousands of Australian businesses and government agencies were struggling to patch a series of major vulnerabilities in almost 7000 Microsoft Exchange Servers across the country.

This is why, today, vulnerability management needs to be an essential part of our security solutions and strategies. At its core, it’s useful in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in our networks, applications, processes, and software.

What is vulnerability management?

Vulnerability management involves a proactive search for weaknesses in an organisation’s internal network, external network, wireless network, and mobile and web applications. The aim, here, is to patch identified weaknesses or gaps before an attacker gains access and compromises your data or systems.

What are the best practices when it comes to managing vulnerabilities?

Identifying and managing vulnerabilities should be a regular process. Luckily, to stay on top of the latest software updates and new systems and technology that you make part of your work, and, thereafter, discover any vulnerabilities therein, there are certain best practices you can follow.

Scan hosts more frequently

The function of network-based scanners is to scan your network services. This more traditional approach not only adds significant overheads to your business but also requires plenty of time and effort when it comes to configuration settings and opening firewall ports.

With host-based scans, on the other hand, you don’t need to scan the network, saving you plenty of time and money. Solutions that support this kind of functionality also allow you to execute continuous monitoring and scanning.

Augment active scanning with other non-disruptive methods

This is one way you can achieve real-time visibility into vulnerabilities without impacting performance.

All you have to do is use data from existing DevOps and security and IT repositories for scanless profiling of potential vulnerabilities across all network nodes. Then, consolidate the results you get from this with the results you get from active scanning.

You can even use open-source tools to execute this approach.

Make the most of context-based risk assessments

The only way to better understand the severity of a specific vulnerability within your organisation is to correlate the external and internal sources of those vulnerabilities.

When you are conducting cybersecurity vulnerability testing, use multiple factors like the CVSS score and your organisation’s asset management system. Only then can you prioritise the remediation of these risks or vulnerabilities.

Centralise all teams dedicated to managing vulnerabilities

You may have multiple teams dedicated to managing vulnerabilities — a security team for detection and an IT team for remediation. Without effective collaboration between these teams, you may struggle to create a closed detection-remediation loop.

Centralise the databases, tools, and platforms your teams use to manage these gaps. Thereafter, you can decide to either implement this in-house or through third-party solutions.

Create a stable, more successful business with more effective vulnerability management

The success of your vulnerability management efforts comes down to how efficiently and effectively you patch the gaps in your software, network and overall business systems. When this becomes a more routine part of your work, you will be backed by the right processes, policies, and tools to defend your operations against upcoming attacks.

Make the most of these best practices not only to defend, but to strengthen your security posture and reduce organisational risk as well.