In the IT security space, vulnerability mitigation and remediation are often considered synonyms of each other. Although they sound similar, they are technically two different processes that fix a vulnerability.
But how exactly is vulnerability remediation different from vulnerability mitigation?
In this article, let’s understand what exactly vulnerability mitigation and remediation mean and which is more effective for securing the IT landscape.
What is Vulnerability Remediation?
Once the vulnerability is detected, it should be remediated as soon as possible. Remediation usually happens by applying the latest patches available to devices.
When the remediation process is completed, it is advised to run vulnerability scans once again to ensure that vulnerabilities are adequately remediated.
For example: In Nov 2022, Fortinet released a security update that addressed 16 different vulnerabilities in multiple products. These security updates could remediate six highly-critical vulnerabilities.
What is Vulnerability Mitigation?
Generally, vulnerability mitigation is not a final step in the vulnerability management process. Vulnerability mitigation is much like a process where you buy time, or it acts as a temporary solution for remediating detected vulnerability.
System admin/IT admin tends to mitigate vulnerability when they don’t find available patches or are required to mildly decrease the effect of attack surface exposure.
For example: In Oct 2022, two zero-day vulnerabilities were actively exploited in Microsoft Exchange servers. Due to the unavailability of patches, Microsoft provided its users with mitigation steps. But was advised to patch as soon as the patch was available.
Vulnerability Mitigation vs Vulnerability Remediation
Consider a scenario where your organization has identified over 15,000 vulnerabilities. You have prioritized them based on their severity levels, and you see that not all vulnerabilities have patches.
As a sysadmin addressing critical vulnerabilities first would be essential. All the critical vulnerabilities identified in your organization’s IT infrastructure should be remediated since they would be most highly exploited.
A few vulnerabilities will not have a readily available patch; those patches will be given a temporary solution so they won’t be exploited in the wild. Once a patch is identified for that vulnerability, it should be deployed.
What’s the best approach?
It is always advised to choose vulnerability remediation over mitigating vulnerabilities. To stay ahead of cyber-attacks, you must remediate vulnerabilities and not just mitigate them since mitigating is a temporary solution. There are high chances that mitigated vulnerability could lead to a potential threat.
Generally, mitigating should be an option when there are vulnerabilities without any available patch or if it’s a low priority. Once the patch is available, it is recommended to apply it.
While both vulnerability mitigation and remediation play essential roles in keeping your organization safe from cyberattacks, remediating vulnerabilities definitely goes a step ahead!
Organizations can up their vulnerability remediation game by opting for automated tools that instantly remediate vulnerabilities. SanerNow is one such tool that can detect vulnerabilities and remediate them with its integrated patch management. It also provides other 100+ security controls that can secure your organization.