Vulnerability management is hard to execute as a continuous process in the long run. In huge networks of organizations, the number of devices, software applications, and the vulnerabilities associated with them is multiplying rapidly. The complexity of devices and software are always growing. Organizations are put in a tough spot when conducting risk assessment and remediation.
An improper vulnerability management program will prove disastrous to an organization’s security. Long detection and remediation cycles leave attack surfaces open to exploits, resulting in damaging security breaches. To deal with vulnerability management’s growing complexities, a set of best practices helps organizations set a better strategy and approach. Here are the 8 best practices of vulnerability management:
1. Establish and measure KPIs for vulnerability management
Make vulnerability management one of your core business processes. You must plan and strategize the process and draw key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor and optimize the process constantly. A few KPIs for vulnerability management are:
- Scan frequency (how often you scan)
- Scan duration (how long it takes to complete a scan)
- Scan coverage (percentage of assets scanned)
- Average time to remediation (time between vulnerability detection and remediation)
- Vulnerability age (how long the vulnerability has remained unremedied from the date of public disclosure)
These metrics let you gauge your vulnerability management program’s effectiveness and pinpoint problematic areas that need to be fixed.
2. Know your exact attack surface
As organizations are starting to adopt a hybrid IT infrastructure, traditional vulnerability detection methods are going obsolete. Employees research and bring their own tools and devices to the workplace since software and technology became directly accessible to the consumers. Software applications have become interconnected, dynamic, borderless, and third-party oriented.
Considering these conditions, you need to know the exact attack surface of your IT infrastructure at all times. Your vulnerability scanning tools need to be able to cover more ground and detect vulnerabilities faster. Keep a close eye on changes happening in your asset inventory. Ensure your scanners can detect vulnerabilities in a heterogeneous environment of desktops, laptops, and servers, all running on different operating systems.
3. Leverage a large vulnerability management database
The accuracy and speed of detection depend on the vastness of the vulnerability database used by your scanner. The scanner compares devices in your environment against a vulnerability database containing all the major vulnerabilities disclosed to date. It’s fair to say your vulnerability database is a huge factor that impacts vulnerability detection accuracy.
To make sure your scanner detects vulnerabilities accurately, leverage a larger and up-to-date vulnerability database. A larger database can detect more vulnerabilities in your environment. You can feel safe knowing that your scanner doesn’t give you a false sense of security because it couldn’t detect every vulnerability.
4. Keep all vulnerability data in one place
You might be using different tools for scanning, risk assessment, and mitigation. They may do the job for you, but they limit you from performing a wholesome analysis of your vulnerability management program. Siloed data in different tools don’t give you a complete picture of the entire process. If you want to check your process’s efficiency, you have to sift through multiple tools with varying operational factors of the software.
You might use different tools because they either support only specific devices or operating systems, or they don’t have in-built risk mitigation capabilities. To streamline and analyze your process consistently, switch to a comprehensive vulnerability management tool that supports multiple devices and operating systems.
5. Prioritize, but do it right
The risk level of a vulnerability differs in each network. The same vulnerability present in a different network of the same organization might pose a different level of risk. Several factors contribute to the risk of vulnerability in your environment.
- CVSS scores (starting point to determine a basic risk level)
- Exploit activity (whether the vulnerability is currently being exploited in the wild)
- Number of assets reported with the vulnerability (more assets with a vulnerability pose more risk)
- Impact of the vulnerability (remote code execution, elevation of privilege, etc.)
These metrics determine the priority level of vulnerability in your environment. Organizing your remediation based on just CVSS scores is not enough to determine your environment’s true risk.
6. Remediate on time
Timely remediation makes a ton of difference to your organization’s real-time risk exposure. Old vulnerabilities lurking in your environment have a higher possibility of exploitation. Threat actors who know about a vulnerability develop programs to make the job easier when seeking out targets. Executing an attack gets faster and easier with older vulnerabilities.
This is where integrated patch remediation in your vulnerability scanning tool gives you an advantage. Besides, what good is detecting a vulnerability if you cannot take the next step and remediate it immediately? If scanning and remediation are done with different tools, consider switching to a comprehensive tool that can scan, detect, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in one go.
7. Automate vulnerability management
Every day, an increasing number of vulnerabilities are being discovered and disclosed publicly. The growing number of software and devices indicates that performing vulnerability management tasks manually slows down the process and keeps attack surfaces open.
An automated vulnerability management process quickens the cycle of scanning, detection, assessment, and remediation. Apart from scanning and detecting vulnerabilities, automation also helps assess and prioritize the discovered vulnerabilities. You can spend your remediation efforts wisely, knowing what to patch first. Overall, risks in your environment are detected and put down faster to ensure a low attack surface at all times.
8. Perform continuous vulnerability scans
Periodic scans at the end of every month, quarter, or worse a year, do not give an exact picture of your risks. Even though security audits require only periodic scans, attack surfaces remain open the whole time you wait for the next scan cycle. Numerous vulnerabilities will show up in your environment, posing a real-world risk. Your assets will remain vulnerable even with a routine vulnerability management process in place.
Continuous scanning lets you detect vulnerabilities in real-time. Instead of waiting for the next scanning cycle, you can focus on detecting and mitigating vulnerabilities as and when they appear on your radar. Scan your environment continuously and take a more agile approach to risk mitigation.
Have you tried SanerNow?
If you are looking for a reliable vulnerability management tool that lets you implement all these best practices, take a look at . SanerNow is a cloud-based risk assessment and mitigation tool powered by our homegrown, with over 100,000 security checks. It performs the fastest vulnerability scan in under 5 minutes to detect and remediate vulnerabilities. You can also prioritize and remediate the detected risks with integrated patching. The entire vulnerability management process is automated to minimize your attack surface significantly.
Sign up for a , we’ll show how your organization will become cyber resilient from a vulnerability management tool powered by the world’s largest vulnerability database.