When assessing cybersecurity, you'll inevitably come across vulnerabilities and threats. And while they can seem like the same thing, they're pretty different. Related, sure, but different nonetheless.
A threat is an active danger poised against your business, a hacker or malware that is trying to break through your defenses. A vulnerability, on the other hand, is a weakness that can be exploited by a threat.
Generally, it can seem more pressing to invest in solutions that address threats while overlooking vulnerabilities. However, in this post, we're going to explore why vulnerability management matters and how you can begin implementing it throughout your business.
What is vulnerability management?
Let's start by defining what vulnerability management is.
Vulnerability management is the practice of identifying, classifying, remediating, and mitigating vulnerabilities. It is a continuous process that should be incorporated into an organization's overall security posture.
A key word in this definition is "remediation". Vulnerability management isn't just about finding potential vulnerabilities but taking steps to remove them.
This is critical, as each vulnerability that you remove is a threat that you've stopped. Working to remove these vulnerabilities is an excellent proactive strategy and will do just as much to protect your business as threat response systems.
The 5 stages of vulnerability management
While your vulnerability management might not look like the process your peers use, there is an overall process that most businesses implement. It's a five-stage process --- and one that we'll break down for you now.
Step 1. Assess
The first step in vulnerability management is to assess your current cybersecurity measures. Here, you or (more often) a third-party service will perform penetration testing on your systems. This will help make you aware of where your vulnerabilities lie.
Step 2. Prioritize
Next, you'll need to prioritize these vulnerabilities. Which are the most critical, which are the least critical, and in what order are you going to work to address them? This ensures that each threat is handled in the appropriate way and timeframe.
Step 3. Act
After you've spotted and prioritized your vulnerabilities, it's time to start acting to remove them. Here, your IT team will deploy patches, invest in new services, and otherwise take measures to make sure that the vulnerability is gone or at the very least unable to be exploited.
Step 4. Reassess
The fourth step in the vulnerability management process is reassessment. During this step, your business should be doing another cycle of checks and testing to make sure that the vulnerability has truly been addressed. If not, then it's on to step five.
Step 5. Improve
Step five is, of course, improving. If your vulnerabilities haven't been fixed during step three, then you need to engage in more action to solve the underlying issue.
And if you have solved your vulnerabilities, then you may want to look at the bigger picture and understand how these vulnerabilities arose. If you can understand how and where they came from, you can take additional measures to prevent future challenges.
Vulnerability management tools
Now that we've covered the process of vulnerability management, it's time to look at the specific tools that are going to carry you through that process. While you don't have to have all of these tools at work, using a combination of them is the best route to take.
Look for weak points --- vulnerability scanners and penetration testing
Identifying vulnerabilities can be done in a number of ways, but the most common method is to use a vulnerability scanner.
These scanners look at your network's endpoints (which include devices like laptops, servers, routers, modems, etc.) and search for potential weaknesses. That could be holes in your security, missing patch updates, and various other vulnerabilities.
Another rock-solid tool for assessing your business's vulnerability management is penetration testing. Penetration testing is a service typically offered by a security provider. It involves attacking your business's network and assets in a safe, controlled way. If the provider is able to break through your defenses, then you know you need to make a change.
Receive crucial data --- BAS tools and vulnerability assessments
Breach and Attack Simulation tools, also known as BAS tools, are similar to penetration testing, albeit a bit more automated. They probe your network for weaknesses and then provide solutions to compensate for those weaknesses.
Another important aspect of vulnerability management is assessing the risk posed by each vulnerability. This is typically done with a vulnerability assessment tool. These tools provide a way to prioritize vulnerabilities based on their risk.
Vulnerability assessments are one of the most holistic tools for approaching your vulnerability management. They look at your overall security posture and see where you stand. They also spot vulnerabilities and help you prioritize how to address those vulnerabilities.
Bring security up to speed --- patch management
Once vulnerabilities have been identified and prioritized, they need to be remediated. This is typically done with patch management --- the process of installing security updates to fix vulnerabilities.
Generally speaking, it falls on your business rather than a provider to initiate patch management, though it can be outsourced. Patch management is all about coming up with the technical, deployable solutions that are going to secure your business.
So after you've gone through and identified all of the weak points in your business's security, you initiate patch management and start closing those weak points. Then, periodically, you repeat the process from scratch, finding new weaknesses and addressing them once again with patch management.
Vulnerability management is just one part of an overall security strategy
While vulnerability management is an important component of your overall security strategy, it should be just one part of a larger whole. To better round out your approach and keep your business and its customers safe, you'll need to invest in more security tools.
Samurai XDR automatically guards your endpoints, looking for potential threats 24/7. Reach out to our team today and start exploring your security options.
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