How to Avoid Common Mistakes While Developing an Effective Vulnerability Management Program?
Worried that your existing vulnerability management (VM) program is not functioning properly? And, wondering how to build a vulnerability management program that works?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Most organizations tend to have under-tooled, underfunded, and reactionary VM programs that aren’t as effective as organizations construe. To ensure that your VM program effectively minimizes your organization’s risks, you need to steer clear of some common pitfalls.
What are these mistakes, and how to build a vulnerability management program by avoiding these mistakes? Keep reading to find out.
Common Mistakes While Building VM Programs
- Lack of Structure and/or Direction: Teams are unclear about what they are working towards. It leads to a lack of ownership, siloed functioning, and confusion.
- Not Using a Continuous Approach: Episodic VM programs cause a vulnerability debt. With such a backlog of unmanaged security issues, organizations lose control over the flow of vulnerabilities and the VM process itself.
- Treating VM as a Numbers Game and Trying to Remediate Everything: This leads to massive wastage of resources while overburdening the IT Team. In doing so, critical vulnerabilities may be overlooked, causing risks to go way beyond tolerable levels.
- Ignoring the Risk Landscape: A vulnerability-based approach that does not account for the changing threat and security risk landscape endangers your mission-critical assets. It erodes the effectiveness of your VM program.
- Patching Schedule That is Too Rigid or Too Ad Hoc: Rigid patching schedules prevent you from adding a patch before the schedule if a vulnerability has been exploited in the wild or additional testing cycles for complex releases. If your patching schedule is too ad hoc, you simply overburden remediation teams.
- Rely on a Single Tool which is usually automated scanning. Scanning, by itself, does not lead to effective vulnerability remediation and management.
- Not Measuring Outcomes or Measuring the Wrong Metrics: This deters your ability to refine and make your VM program more effective.
How to Build a Vulnerability Management Program by Avoiding Common Mistakes?
1. Define Goals, Policies, and Ownership with Proper Communication Structures
With clearly defined goals, policies, responsibilities, and communication structures, your teams know what they are working towards. They will not be blaming one another for unpatched vulnerabilities, poor data, or other failures.
Further, make sure the communication structures aren’t unidirectional. You must be able to get feedback from your teams to understand their pain points and take timely action to ensure the smooth functioning of the VM process.
2. Adopt an Ongoing Approach
Instead of episodically/ erratically scanning and remediating vulnerabilities, adopt an ongoing approach centered around regular automated scanning of the updated asset inventory. Automation improves the agility and accuracy of scanning and helps you identify known vulnerabilities proactively.
Add regular pen-testing and security audits to the mix to proactively identify and mitigate business logic flaws and unknown vulnerabilities. When your scanning tools are linked to managed WAFs, you can automatically secure vulnerabilities with virtual patching until developers fix them.
This way, you can stay on top of your vulnerabilities without a constant backlog of security issues.
3. Prioritization is Key – Not all Vulnerabilities Can be Fixed
Remember that vulnerability management is not a numbers game and that not all vulnerabilities can be fixed.
You must prioritize vulnerabilities based on the importance of the asset the vulnerability is associated with, the exploitability and impact of each vulnerability, real-time threat intelligence, the likelihood of threats, business risks, the organization’s risk appetite, etc.
Based on the prioritization, fix the critical and high-risk vulnerabilities first. The thousands of low-risk vulnerabilities can simply be virtually patched and left as they are while your developers and remediation teams focus on what matters the most.
4. Shift to a Risk-Based Approach
Vulnerability management programs must be risk-based to prioritize threats and vulnerabilities better while keeping your mission-critical assets secure. You need to be proactive in identifying risks and blind spots instead of relying on old risk data.
Further, do not get caught up with the headlines and hype, as you may miss critical vulnerabilities. And this could be extremely damaging and costly to your business.
5. Maintain a Flexible Patch Management
Your patch management processes/ solutions need to be flexible and agile, not rigid or ad hoc. You must be able to accommodate additional testing, emerging security issues, and so on while maintaining your regular patching schedule.
6. Leverage Comprehensive, Intelligent, and Managed Security Solutions
Leverage best vulnerability management solutions like Indusface’s AppTrana that go beyond scanning to ensure effective vulnerability management. They combine scanning, pen-testing, security audits, next-gen web app firewalls, security analytics, reporting, granular traffic monitoring, real-time visibility, and so on to harden the security posture.
7. Measurement Empowers Mitigation
Move beyond the number of vulnerabilities remediated to measure critical metrics like time to identify vulnerabilities, time to fix critical vulnerabilities, and strengthen your VM program continuously.
Use this guide on building a vulnerability management program to avoid the common VM program pitfalls and effectively reduce risks facing your organization.