What is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability management has become an essential part of your data security. Today, it remains one of the most proactive approaches to remove any security weaknesses in your system before leading to a breach. 

So, what is vulnerability management?

This is the regular process of identifying, evaluating, reporting, managing, and removing any cyber vulnerabilities across workloads, endpoints, and systems. Security teams use vulnerability assessment scanners to check for vulnerabilities. Then, they use different processes to remediate or patch the vulnerabilities found in your system. 

A good vulnerability management scanner uses both threat intelligence and knowledge of business operations and IT to prioritize threats and deal with vulnerabilities as fast as possible. This allows the team to decide how to handle the threat best. If a vulnerability is identified, your security team will need to evaluate its risk in different contexts. 

How does vulnerability management differ from vulnerability assessment?

Vulnerability assessment is part of a vulnerability management system. So, your business will need to run several vulnerability assessments to get more details about its vulnerability management action plan. 

With that said, let’s look at the steps of the vulnerability management process in detail. 

Identifying vulnerabilities

The first step of vulnerability management is to identify vulnerabilities in your system. This can be done in several ways, but most businesses use one or more of the following methods:

  • Network scanning – network scanning is the act of using a tool to automatically check for open ports that may be vulnerable. This is usually done by connecting to a range of IP addresses and checking for common vulnerabilities.
  • Web application scanning – web application scanning is identifying vulnerabilities in web applications. This is usually done by sending requests to the application and then checking the responses for signs of vulnerabilities.
  • Code analysis – code analysis is the process of manually reviewing source code for signs of vulnerabilities. This is a time-consuming task but can effectively find vulnerabilities that other methods may miss.
  • Penetration testing – penetration testing is the process of trying to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to systems or data. This is usually done with the permission of the owner of the system and can be either black-box or white-box. 

Your security team will need to choose the best method for your business based on its size, budget, and resources. Once you’ve selected a method, you can start to scan for vulnerabilities. If you’re using network scanning, for example, you’ll need to run a scanner across your network looking for any open ports that could be exploited. 

Evaluating risks

The next step is to evaluate the risks associated with each identified vulnerability. To do this, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

  • The asset value – this is the importance of the asset to your business. For example, an e-commerce website will have a higher asset value than a blog. 
  • The likelihood of exploitation – this is the chance that someone will exploit the vulnerability. 
  • The impact of exploitation – this is the potential damage that could be caused if the vulnerability is exploited. 

You can use these factors to create a risk score for each identified vulnerability. This will help you to prioritize which vulnerabilities need to be fixed first. 

Reporting findings

Once you’ve evaluated the risks, you’ll need to report your findings to the relevant stakeholders. This could include your senior management team and the owners of the assets that are affected by the vulnerabilities. 

Your report should include:

  • A list of all identified vulnerabilities
  • The risks associated with each vulnerability
  • Recommendations for remediation 

Reporting is an important part of the vulnerability management process because it allows you to get buy-in from key decision-makers. Without this, it can be difficult to allocate the necessary resources to fix the vulnerabilities. 

Managing vulnerabilities

The fourth step is to implement a plan to manage the identified vulnerabilities. This will involve prioritizing which vulnerabilities need to be fixed first and allocating resources accordingly. It’s important to note that not all vulnerabilities will need to be fixed immediately. In some cases, it may be more effective to monitor the exposure and put a plan to fix it later. 

Monitoring progress

The final step of the vulnerability management process is to monitor progress and ensure that vulnerabilities are being fixed in a timely manner. This can be done by setting up regular reports that track the status of each vulnerability. It’s also important to keep stakeholders updated on progress so that they can see the benefits of the vulnerability management process. 

By following these steps, you can effectively manage vulnerabilities in your system and reduce their risks. However, it’s important to note that the process is never truly finished. New vulnerabilities are always being found, so the process needs to be repeated regularly.

Creating a vulnerability management policy 

Once you understand the basics of vulnerability management, you can start to put a policy in place for your business. This will outline the steps to be taken to manage vulnerabilities effectively. 

Your policy should include:

  • The methods that will be used to identify vulnerabilities – this could include network scanning, code review, or penetration testing. 
  • The process that will be used to evaluate risks – this should include a clear definition of what factors will be considered when assessing the risks associated with a vulnerability. 
  • The reporting procedure – this should detail who needs to be notified of identified vulnerabilities and how this will be done. 
  • The plan for managing vulnerabilities – this should outline how vulnerabilities will be prioritized and what resources will be allocated to fixing them. 
  • The procedure for monitoring progress – this should specify how regularly progress reports will be generated and who will receive them. 

Creating a vulnerability management policy is an important part of network security practices, as it ensures that your business can effectively deal with vulnerabilities. By following these steps, you can minimize the risks posed by vulnerabilities and keep your systems secure. 

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