We’re now into the second week of #CyberAwarenessMonth and we thought we’d focus this week’s blog on the importance and need of managing vulnerabilities in your network.
CIOs and business owners are under constant scrutiny to manage risks and vulnerabilities. With cybersecurity being in a constant state of change, implementing a robust vulnerability management solution can assist in protecting your organization from threats.
Any organization that conducts business over the internet is susceptible to a network-based attack stemming from a vulnerability within a connected system. That means, any device, application, or cloud tool that is connected to the network and not properly managed could create a backdoor entrance for a threat actor.
Countless numbers of data breaches that stemmed from a single vulnerability could have been avoided. For example, do you remember the WannaCry attack of 2017? Threat actors took advantage of organizations that did not patch and update software in a timely fashion, allowing the threat actor to utilize a known vulnerability.
What does effective vulnerability management look like?
A robust vulnerability management program is much more than running a yearly scan and remediating the issues. Performing a single vulnerability scan each year puts organizations in a period of limbo. Threat actors gain additional time to compromise your network through vulnerabilities and the organization is putting mission-critical data at greater risk.
An effective vulnerability management program runs multiple scans per year and sticks to the four processes that encompass vulnerability management: discovery, reporting, prioritization, and response.
Discovery – the process by which network assets are found, categorized and assessed for risks.
Reporting – reporting the data found creates a prioritization matrix that can be used to determine what needs to be handled first. This can also be used to showcase progression in remediation of vulnerabilities and for compliance auditing.
Prioritization – Prioritizing the risks found helps organizations understand where focus, budget and processes need to be implemented.
Response – Response to risk comes in three categories: remediate, mitigate or accept. Ignoring risk isn’t an option.
- Remediate – remediating a vulnerability is completing removing it. For example, if a system was missing a patch, installing the patch remediates the vulnerability.
- Mitigate – mitigating risk is reducing risk by taking another action outside the immediate realm of the system. For example, if a flaw is found on your system and you install a firewall. The vulnerability is still there, but with the firewall in place the risk is gone.
- Accept – in some cases, organizations choose to accept a certain level of risk because it can affect something else. This is not recommended, but it is done because of certain factors like budget, internal procedures or testing, etc.
Not choosing to implement a risk management program is deciding to accept avoidable risk. Vulnerability scanning should happen on a frequent basis – and is often required multiple times a year by certain compliance regulations. Unless you are required by law, the frequency is then chosen by that organization’s risk acceptance. To ensure your business is protected from the constant flux of the cybersecurity landscape, quarterly vulnerability scanning is recommended. If your organization needs help managing risks and vulnerabilities, contact Magna5 for more help.