Massive data breaches and cyber-attacks on giant multinational corporations such as Facebook, Yahoo, Equifax, etc., known for their monetary and engineering resources and infrastructure, have led more companies to pursue more robust and comprehensive security measures. At the core of such security measures is vulnerability management.

In this article, we will delve deep into and understand vulnerability management, its process and how to choose the right solution.

What Is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability management (VM) is the process that enables organizations to continuously and consistently identify, classify, prioritize, report and remediate vulnerabilities present in a web application/ website and accordingly, minimize security risks facing the application/ website and enhance its security posture.

Why is Vulnerability Management Important?

Think of vulnerabilities as holes in a security armor/ vest. The holes are not an instant problem but leaving them un-patched or un-mended is imprudent as it increases the risks involved.

Similarly, vulnerabilities are no active threats by themselves, but their presence enables threat actors to orchestrate attacks/ breaches by leveraging the vulnerabilities. Therefore, increase the security risks involved and undermine/ weaken the security measures taken by the organization.

Why should organizations risk someone finding the vulnerabilities – gaps, loopholes, security weaknesses, and misconfigurations – in their website/ web application and leveraging them to orchestrate an attack or breach?

The opportunity cost of not deploying an effective vulnerability management solution is high because:

  • The threat landscape is evolving and advancing at a rapid pace; attackers are finding new and innovative ways to orchestrate attacks by exploiting vulnerabilities.
  • The frequency and sophistication of attacks are increasing by the day
  • The attack surface and endpoints open to threats are ever-expanding owing to the growing number of people using web applications and websites.
  • With so many moving and changing parts and components, third-party components, etc., the number of vulnerabilities facing organizations is growing.
  • The costs of attacks, financially, legally and reputationally, is seeing multiplier growth

5 Stages in Vulnerability Management Process

Discovery

In this stage, you must organize and enumerate all your assets, systems, networks, web applications, software, hardware, databases, content management systems, development frameworks, ports, etc. including legacy systems and processes, third-party software and components to get a comprehensive picture of the IT infrastructure. The discovery stage helps organizations to build a VM database and ensure that all bases are covered and that no asset, device or component is forgotten.

Remember to not leave the VM database as-is. You must continually refresh and update the database to ensure a better security posture.

Identification

In this stage, you must identify the vulnerabilities present in the various components of your VM database. To unearth all the vulnerabilities, a variety of vulnerability management tools such as intelligent and automated web scanners, network scanning tools, firewall logging, pen-testing by security experts, etc. must be used.

Scanning must be done on an everyday basis and after major changes in the systems or business policies that affect the systems/ application. Pen-testing should be done at least on a quarterly or half-yearly basis to identify vulnerabilities that scanners are not equipped to unearth.

Evaluation/ Assessment

Not all vulnerabilities pose the same level of risk. With the ever-increasing number of vulnerabilities, it is not possible to remediate or mitigate all of them. This is why you must evaluate or assess and prioritize them so that the most critical and high-risk vulnerabilities are fixed first. Threat Intelligence Database, scanning and discovery reports, security analytics, etc. must be leveraged to create prioritization matrices and ratings.

Pro-Tip: Priority ratings and matrices must be custom-built based on the context of the organization/ application/ network.

Reporting

In this stage, you must generate in-depth, customized reports providing details about the vulnerabilities, priority ratings, as well as, recommendations and best-suggested plans to remediate/ mitigate the risks involved.

Remediation and Verification

The next stage in vulnerability management is remediation/ mitigation of the vulnerabilities identified and prioritized. High-risk and critical vulnerabilities must be fixed first while the other vulnerabilities are patched to ensure that attackers cannot leverage them. In cases very low-risk vulnerabilities or cost of remediation exceeds the cost of fixing it, you may choose to accept it and not fix it.

To ensure that the VM process is transparent, you must verify the effectiveness of the process and tune it accordingly.

Choosing a Vulnerability Management Solution

Choose a next-gen and intelligent solution like Indusface Vulnerability Management which is part of a comprehensive security solution. The intelligent and automated Scanner leverages insights from pen-testing done by security experts, the managed WAF and the Global Threat Intelligence database to proactively and automatically include un-crawled areas in VM and thereby, ensure deep and intelligent crawling and vulnerability scanning. The WAF patches vulnerabilities instantly, until fixed by developers. Regular pen-testing and security audits ensure that unknown vulnerabilities and business logic flaws are proactively identified. The certified security experts offer support to ensure that your security posture is high.

Almost anything in a web application/ website, including users and employees, can turn into a vulnerability. Minimize your risks today with a holistic, robust and effective security solution.