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5 Steps to Build an Effective Vulnerability Management Program

Vulnerability management is a standardized process across most organizations. However, even organizations that follow periodic compliance audits and patch software vulnerabilities are hit by cyber-attacks. If attack surfaces are open despite following a documented vulnerability management process, the obvious problem to fix is the program’s effectiveness. Organizations should realize vulnerability management as more than an audit chore. They should take it up as a constant and ongoing process that helps secure their businesses. 

Here are five steps to strengthen your vulnerability management program:

1. Go beyond periodic scans

The habit of putting off vulnerability scans for long periods is mostly a result of performing risk assessments just for compliance audits. Periodic audits only give you instantaneous snapshots of risks in your IT infrastructure. One quarter is more than enough time for hundreds of new vulnerabilities to surface and pose severe risks to your network. 

Continuous scanning enables you to monitor your assets non-stop. Instead of struggling with an overwhelming number of risks to assess and remediate at the end of an audit cycle or year, you can adopt a more agile approach to risk remediation. Critical risks are immediately identified and remediated, displaying a minimal attack surface at all times.

2. Increase accuracy of detection with a larger vulnerability database

If you have a vulnerability scanner, the tool’s effectiveness lies in how many publicly disclosed vulnerabilities it can detect. If it does not have enough vulnerabilities in its database, you are put in a dangerous spot that you don’t even realize. A fewer number of security checks fail to identify all vulnerabilities and give you a false sense of security. 

To increase the accuracy of your detection, your vulnerability management program needs to be powered by a large vulnerability database that is up-to-date with all security risks disclosed publicly until today. The more stringent and comprehensive security checks, the more accurate is the detection.

3. Assess and prioritize vulnerabilities the right way 

The most commonly known and used standard for measuring the severity of vulnerabilities is the CVSS. Different versions of the standard have evolved, such as CVSS v2 and CVSS v3, as an improvement from the previous ones. Each vulnerability is given a score out of 10 as a gauge to measure the severity. However, just the CVSS scores do not give an accurate representation of risks to your environment.

It would be best if you analyzed additional factors like:

  • Ease of exploiting the vulnerability (technical implications)
  • Exploitation activity of the vulnerability right now
  • Number of days the vulnerability has remained unpatched (older vulnerabilities pose a higher risk)
  • Number of devices reported with the vulnerability
  • Impact on business in case of a potential exploit.

The above factors may seem like too much to do manually. A smart vulnerability management tool will prioritize risks for you, considering all these factors.

4. Remediate in time by any means

Patching remediates most of the vulnerabilities found in software. The respective software vendors regularly release patch updates to remediate discovered vulnerabilities. When a patch is released, you have to immediately assess the risk to your environment and roll out the patch. Many security breaches are a result of unapplied security patches.

Suppose a vulnerability is not remediated because the vendor hasn’t released a patch yet, or patch deployment has failed in that particular device. In that case, you need to take other measures to ensure a potential threat actor doesn’t discover and exploit the vulnerability. Limit user permissions, blacklist the application/device, and try to truncate the device from the network.  

5. Maintain all vulnerability management data and reports in one tool

A common activity among IT and security teams is preparing and sharing reports for compliance audits and top management. Many teams struggle to put together reports because vulnerability data is siloed in different tools. An obvious reason for multiple tools is because of an insufficient number of platforms and devices supported by a single tool. Native products and legacy tools may have limited functions and support only a few devices.

Well-designed vulnerability management tools support many OS platforms and have auto-generated reports that record all activity and produce required data when needed. With all data in one place, IT teams can get timely and actionable insights that drive the program to success.

Want to see the steps built into one tool?

If you want to implement all the above steps in one effective tool, give SanerNow Vulnerability Management a try. SanerNow performs continuous scans on all endpoints in the network, leverages our homegrown, world’s largest vulnerability database, assesses and prioritizes risks according to your IT environment, and remediates the vulnerabilities with integrated patching. It supports all OS platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux, and a host of third-party apps in those platforms.

Sign up for a free demo. We’ll show you around SanerNow tailored to your needs.

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