Why is Exposure Management Not Enough? What is CVEM?

Why is Exposure Management Not Enough? What is CVEM?

The need for exposure management tools has skyrocketed, and every organization is looking for exposure management software to safeguard its network. But is exposure management alone enough?

Before we delve into this, let’s understand what exposure management is.

What is Exposure Management?

Exposure management is a process of detecting, assessing, and remediating vulnerabilities and other security risks before they get exploited. It involves protecting organizations from potential cyberattacks and following the prevention-first approach rather than waiting for an attack to happen.

Here’s how exposure management typically works:

  1. Vulnerability Detection and Assessment: The first step in exposure management is conducting a continuous and automated scanning and assessment of the organization’s digital assets to identify potential risks.

  2. Risk Prioritization: Once vulnerabilities are identified, they must be prioritized based on their severity, technical impact, business context, and impact on high-fidelity attacks.

  3. Patch Management: Vulnerabilities and cyber risks detected must be remediated or mitigated through timely patch application.

  4. Security Controls Implementation: Exposure management also involves implementing various security controls and measures to protect against known vulnerabilities and potential threats.

How did Continuous Threat Exposure Management Become the Talk of the Town?  

Gartner recently coined the term CTEM (continuous threat and exposure management), which talks about the continuous process of monitoring, evaluating, and reducing the level of exploitability of an attack. This term helped exposure management to build its momentum and got attention to its benefits such as:

  • Prioritize risks
  • Gaining actionable insights
  • Operational efficiency
  • Resource allocation
  • Competitive advantage

But what’s the point of remediating an exposure after it is exploited?!

Doesn’t it make sense to prevent the risk before it gets exploited?

Let me ask you again: do you still think exposure management is enough?

Why is CVEM a Need of the Hour?

Many myths are circulating around Continuous Threat and Exposure Management and modern vulnerability management:
CTEM Myth 1: Existing vulnerability management is not continuous or automated

Reality: Vulnerability management is continuous and is end-to-end automated. In tools like SanerNow, vulnerability scanning is done within minutes, and also can detect vulnerabilities beyond CVEs.

CTEM Myth 2: Patch Management is not automated, and the mean time to remediate a vulnerability is in months.

Reality: Patch Management is automated, and the patching cycle is completed within days or even instantly. Patching is easier with integrated vulnerability and patch management, and all the vulnerabilities and other security risks are remediated instantly. 

With SanerNow achieve 95% patch compliance within two days.

CTEM Myth 3: Vulnerability prioritization is not found in current tools

Reality: Prioritization of vulnerabilities was present based on the CVSS scores. It is now more accurate with CISA-SSVC guidelines that prioritize vulnerabilities based on business context, technical impact, high-fidelity attacks, and more vulnerability intelligence.

SecPod was the world’s first vendor to implement risk-based prioritization based on CISA-SSVC guidelines.

CTEM Myth 4: “Continuous Threat Exposure Management” can work on its own

Reality: Continuous threat detection is not possible without continuous vulnerability detection. Continuous threat and Exposure management will still need vulnerability management to feed information about the latest risks.

Adopting Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management solves the problem of continuity, remediation, and automation and also identifies vulnerabilities beyond CVEs.

Now, let’s dive deep and understand the concept of CVEM.

What is Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management (CVEM)? 

We all are aware of what vulnerability management is and how important it is for us to safeguard our IT environment. But when everything in the IT landscape is constantly changing, have we ever wondered if vulnerability management needs any upgrade? What was there in the IT environment two decades ago is not there today, and the security hemisphere has become even more complex post the pandemic. However, the vulnerability management process has almost remained the same with no innovation. 

If you have convinced yourselves that siloed approach, relying on different tools for remediation, focusing only on CVEs, and ignoring other crucial security risks are enough to protect your network; it is the same as locking the main door and leaving all the windows in the house wide open and believing you are safe. Modern IT security teams need a Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management solution that automatically manages vulnerabilities, exposures, and numerous security risks from a centralized console that strengthens the overall security posture.

Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management (CVEM) introduces a fresh perspective to cybersecurity by evaluating an organization’s IT infrastructure security status from a weak perspective and allowing it to strengthen its security posture capable of defending against cyberattacks. The weakness perspective involves the assessment of IT infrastructure that encompasses Devices, Applications, Users/Identities, Data, Networks, and Security Controls.  

Pitfalls of Traditional Vulnerability Management: Why Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management?

There are numerous reasons why traditional vulnerability management platforms cannot cope with the modern security landscape. Let us look at the three major reasons that present an inevitable need for Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure management.  

  • Not Managing Vulnerabilities Beyond CVEs: 

All CVEs are vulnerabilities, but not all vulnerabilities have a CVE number. More than 40% of vulnerabilities do not have a CVE identifier assigned. Numerous security risks exist in a network that is as threatening as a software vulnerability. Traditional vulnerability management tools focus only on CVEs or software vulnerabilities, leaving behind other crucial security risks. 

  • Lack of Integrated Remediation:  

With new vulnerabilities being discovered every passing day, security teams have difficulty keeping a tab on patching them. According to a study by Edge Scan, IT teams take over 58 days to remediate discovered vulnerabilities. The huge delay in patching is due to the traditional vulnerability management platform lacking integrated remediation capability.  

They rely on a different tool to patch the vulnerabilities and face hiccups in integrating the vulnerability data and executing the patching process. Delay in patching increases vulnerability exposure, opening gates for numerous cyberattacks. The lack of integrated remediation in vulnerability management tools also leaves IT teams in a dilemma of which tool to use for remediation.  

  • Relying on Siloed Interfaces and Multiple Tools: 

For different steps of vulnerability management, traditional processes depend on multiple vulnerability management tools, causing chaos and confusion while correlating and assessing the vulnerabilities for mitigation. Due to the complexities involved, the siloed interfaces make it hard for security teams to gain control over the risk exposure. They also create delays between different steps, leading to huge security gaps in your vulnerability management platform.  

  • Slow and ineffective scanners: 

As the horizon of security risks and vulnerabilities expands, traditional scanners lack the intelligence to detect them. Traditional vulnerability scanners take around 3 to 24 Hrs even to discover the common vulnerabilities. The time taken to discover all risks, including vulnerabilities, will be even longer with these traditional scanners. Longer scanning time directly corresponds to a delay in remediation, leaving the vulnerability to prevail for longer intervals in the network.  

Some vulnerability scanner produces false-positive results and consumes huge bandwidth while scanning hybrid devices. Thus, ineffective vulnerability scanning is a major let down for the whole vulnerability management process.  

  • Unable to keep up with the volume of vulnerabilities: 

Tens of thousands of vulnerabilities are discovered every year, and the volume of vulnerabilities released in the NVD database is mammoth. The year 2023 ended with a total of 26,447 vulnerabilities, surpassing the previous year’s count by over 1500 CVEs. Security teams face numerous challenges in keeping up with the increased volume of vulnerabilities. To add to this, the number of security risks in the network is also huge.  

  • Poor clarity on what to remediate first:

According to a study by ESG, 43% of security admins have challenges understanding which vulnerability to remediate first. After detecting a huge pile of vulnerabilities and risks, it is critical to identify and remediate the high-risk ones to minimize attacks. Traditional vulnerability management tools lack the right techniques to prioritize vulnerabilities and risks based on severity.  

  • Lack of remediation controls beyond patching: 

Patching is not the only remediation measure to fix vulnerabilities and other security risk exposures. As the horizon of vulnerabilities and security risks expand, numerous remediation controls are needed to fix different types of vulnerabilities. Traditional vulnerability management tools lack these controls and restrict security teams from going beyond patching to fix other risk exposures.  

  • Unable to align vulnerability management goals with security compliance: 

Popular industry compliance standards like HIPAA, PCI, NIST, and ISO propose numerous system hardening controls and vulnerability management measures to tighten security. Many traditional vulnerability management tools in the market are not equipped with sufficient features to align with these security benchmarks. Thus, security teams rely on different tools to enforce security compliance, making it a challenging goal to achieve.  

  • Lack of Exposure Visibility:

In the industry, there’s always a confusion between a vulnerability and an exposure. When a vulnerability is exposed, it transforms into a potential threat. Traditional vulnerability management focuses on software vulnerabilities. However, there are many more things to focus on, such as misconfigurations, posture anomalies, missing patches, asset exposures, etc.

Top Benefits of Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management  

  • Manage a Wide Range of Security Risks: 

Unlike traditional vulnerability management platform, Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management examines vulnerabilities that go beyond CVEs. Along with software vulnerabilities, the CVEM program also addresses various security risks in your network to strengthen your IT security posture.  

  • Reduce attack surface to a greater extent:  

Integrated remediation is one of the key strengths of Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure management. By integrating remediation controls into the same console, you can mitigate vulnerabilities on time and reduce the attack surface to a greater extent. 

  • Enhance operational efficiency: 

You can eliminate the operational challenges of traditional vulnerability management systems by implementing Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management. Integrated vulnerability management and end-to-end automation eliminate the complexities and chaos associated with swivel chair interfaces and manual methods. Using a single centralized console, you can easily make vulnerability management continuous and eliminate security gaps between steps. 

  • Comply with regulatory requirements:  

Multiple risks are addressed by continuous vulnerability and exposure management, such as IT asset exposures, vulnerabilities, patches, and configuration errors. These security risks are also part of regulatory compliance benchmarks such as HIPAA, PCI, ISO, NIST, and more. Thus, you can easily implement continuous vulnerability and exposure management and meet these security benchmarks. 

  • Establish a solid foundation for preventing cyberattacks:

Cybersecurity frameworks prioritize prevention before detection, response, and recovery. We can easily protect our network from numerous threats if we focus on prevention. Continuous vulnerability and exposure management systems will act as a crucial method for preventing cyberattacks and tightening the network’s overall security.  

Best Framework for Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management  

 A Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management system must,    

  • Unify the entire vulnerability management lifecycle into one single console. 
  • Eliminates the need to implement and operate on multiple siloed products and interfaces.  
  • Automate the implementation of vulnerability management system into a continuous process.
  • Achieve continuous and measurable cyber hygiene posture to prevent attacks.  

 The proposed framework consists of 6 steps:  

1. Visibility:  

Gain complete visibility over the IT infrastructure to identify all the IT assets and devices in the network.  

2. Identify: 

Run continuous & automated scans to discover the network’s vulnerabilities and security risks, including software vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, missing patches, IT asset exposures, security control deviations, & security posture anomalies.  

3. Assess:  

Assess all the vulnerabilities and security risks rigorously with a vulnerability assessment tool from a centralized console and stay aware of the potential risks in the network.  

4. Prioritize:  

 Prioritize the vulnerabilities based on their risk level to aid smarter vulnerability remediation.  

5. Remediate:  

Remediate vulnerabilities and security risks with integrated patching and relevant security remediation controls and reduce risk exposure.  

6. Report:  

Perform strategic analysis of the implemented processes and analyze the vulnerability landscape with insightful & customizable reports.

Top Use Cases of Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management:

Continuous vulnerability and exposure management completely revamps the idea of vulnerability management solution and changes it for the better. By ‘redefining the scope of vulnerabilities, amalgamating, and automating the functionalities of multiple solutions’, continuous vulnerability and exposure management can help with a number of use cases. 

  • Visibility over IT assets

    Continuous vulnerability and exposure management begins with complete visibility over IT assets. We can only protect what we can see, and with CVEM, no asset in your IT network is missed.   

    With its eagle eye watching over the network, CVEM provides an overview that ensures every device is under a protective umbrella. 

  • Integrated Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation 

    CVEM integrates the vulnerability assessment platform and remediation platform into a single, streamlined process and further simplifies it into a simple routine by automating it from end to end. So, it eliminates the need for correlation of data between solutions and transforms the herky-jerky vulnerability management system into a smooth, cyclic process.  

    By replacing siloed solutions and broadening the scope of detection, CVEM helps combat software vulnerabilities but doesn’t stop there. It can also fix misconfigurations and harden systems to reduce the attack surface further. 

  • End-to-end automation of VM  

    A vulnerability management platform shouldn’t be a one-time process happening per quarter or, even worse, per half. With automation and continuity in its central focus, CVEM ensures that the protection is continuous and real-time instead of the false sense of security stemming from the sporadic traditional vulnerability management system. 

    With automation at its core, CVEM reduces the time and effort it takes to build and enforce a comprehensive vulnerability management system. 

  • Cloud-based assessment and remediation 

    With more and more organizations shifting to a remote and cloud-based environment, IT admins are facing the challenge of efficient Vulnerability assessment and remediation with an on-premises vulnerability management solution. But CVEM, being cloud-based, bridges that gap.

    With a centralized cloud-based console, IT admins can protect devices throughout the world from anywhere.  

  • Adhering to and Enforcing compliance policies 

    Compliance mandates are an integral part of an organization, and strict adherence to compliance policies can do a world of good to organizations. From better security to a reduced chance of cyberattacks, compliance can also help improve an organization’s reputation. 

    CVEM can help you adhere to and enforce compliance policies and maintain your organization’s compliance status. By continuously fixing misconfigurations, it helps reduce attack surfaces and stay compliant. 

  • System configuration hardening 

    Misconfigurations and security anomalies are projected as the leading cause of cyberattacks soon, and the only way to defend your organization from them is by hardening your system configurations with a good vulnerability management tool. 

    With CVEM, you can proactively fix misconfigurations and harden your system to reduce the attack surface significantly. This also helps you stay compliant and ensures you are protected. 

  • Achieve continuous compliance 

    Along with achieving and enforcing compliance, CVEM also ensures that you are continuously staying compliant. By actively scanning and fixing compliance issues in real-time, CVEM helps stay compliant and decreases the chance of getting cyber-attacked. 

    This keeps your organization proactive and vigilant to quickly mitigate risks and ensure its safety. 

  • Cyber resilience 

    Resilience means toughness. And with CVEM, your organization’s defense strengthens and its ability to fight back and prevent cyberattacks increases. 

    By increasing the velocity of the vulnerability management platform through integration and automation, you can prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. 

    Since CVEM doesn’t limit itself to software vulnerabilities and looks at other security risks, this guarantees enhanced cyber resilience against cyberattacks. 

  • Risk Prioritization

    Risk Prioritization prioritizes vulnerabilities based on Business Context and vulnerability characteristics like Automatable, Exploitability, Technical Impact, and Mission Prevalence Parameters. This gives a clear view of vulnerabilities that need to be acted on first and prioritized in order to safeguard your organization.

  • Audit-ready reporting  

    CVEM performs a multitude of actions on the devices in the network, like scanning, patching, and more. Moreover, it can accurately detect and track these changes as well. 

    Since CVEM also provides an eagle-eye view of your organization, it can also generate audit-ready reports that are actionable and customizable.

Adopting Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management: Overcoming the Challenges 

  • Accustomed to existing solutions:  

IT security teams are often accustomed to their existing tool stack and find it challenging to switch and scrap to a new vulnerability management tool. However, implementing Continuous vulnerability and exposure management is a simple process. As CVEM merges critical security functions in a single tool, it makes it easy for you to deploy in your network and escape the agony of gazing across a maze of tools.  

  • Deploying New Agents:  

IT security teams will already have an agent/agentless setup to manage vulnerabilities. They might already be relying on multiple agents to execute different steps of vulnerability management. Hence, they will be reluctant to install and configure a new set of agents in their devices all over again. CVEM overcomes this by providing a single agent to execute all steps from discovery to vulnerability remediation of vulnerabilities and security risks. You can easily install this lightweight agent across your devices and kick-start an effective vulnerability management process.  

  • Training Security Teams on New Framework:  

While implementing a new framework to manage vulnerabilities, there comes the challenge of training the teams to use it. Continuous vulnerability and exposure management platform not only provides a range of benefits in securing your network, but it is also quite easy to learn and adapt. CVEM provides a simple, straightforward approach to manage vulnerabilities and security risks with auto patching, where you can handle everything from a single place.  

Continuous Vulnerability and Exposure Management system fills the void of an all-around process that can perform a slew of tasks that simplify and ease the work of IT Security teams while strengthening and protecting your organization from cyberattacks.  

While breaking away from older traditions is always challenging, the pros of CVEM far outweigh its challenges, and the benefits make the effort you put in worthwhile.  

With its continuously advanced capabilities and functionalities, CVEM creates a sphere of unbreachable protection around your IT infrastructure, with a single unwavering goal of preventing cyberattacks.