Why Vulnerability Management?
Cybersecurity is in a constant state of flux. Data breaches happen frequently, to the point where it’s no longer a shock to hear that your personal information has been compromised. With the increased scrutiny placed upon managing your potential security risks, it’s more important than ever to create and implement a robust vulnerability management program.
Embedded in the cybersecurity world, we have seen firsthand the damage a single vulnerability can cause and the ease with which some breaches could have been avoided. My team has worked with numerous companies to shore up their defenses and create a mature cybersecurity posture, often starting with vulnerability management.
What Is Effective Vulnerability Management?
Vulnerability management is more than running a vulnerability scanner and remediating the resulting vulnerabilities on an annual basis. A vulnerability management program should be a robust program that includes multiple scans per year, detailed tracking and remediation, vulnerability and root-cause analysis, as well as finite reporting.
Vulnerability scanning should happen on a frequent basis. The frequency at which vulnerability scans are performed is determined by the organization’s risk appetite and any applicable regulatory requirements. However, I recommend at least quarterly scans as part of a robust program.
Performing only a single vulnerability scan each year puts companies at risk of not uncovering new vulnerabilities for an extended time period. This period of limbo is all an attacker needs to compromise a network. I’ve seen this happen with clients who just wanted to check the security box to satisfy regulatory requirements. These clients typically have the same vulnerabilities year after year, and as time progresses, so do the number of vulnerabilities discovered.
Every time a computer connects to the Internet, there is a risk of a hacker taking advantage of some new vulnerability. This needle in the cyber-haystack can wreak havoc on networks and computers. Most disconcerting, these vulnerabilities can cause more than annoying pop-ups. They can worm their way into a network and steal proprietary information and other data critical to the profitability of a business. Even the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Computer Security Division keeps a National Vulnerability Database (NVD) in an effort to help companies prepare against potential attacks. The NVD is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division. As of April 2014, there were more than 50,000 vulnerabilities scored in the NVD.
That’s why vulnerability scans can be such an important form of network protection.
Vulnerability scanning is an organized approach to the testing, identification, analysis and reporting of potential security issues on a network. An external scan will mimic how hackers on the Internet can attempt to gain access to a network. An internal scan is run from inside the network. The results can show the path a hacker can take once they have gained access to the network and exactly how much data they could collect.
Vulnerability scanning is a non-destructive form of testing that provides immediate feedback on the health and security of a network. Based on the information provided, the IT team can take direct action to better protect a network and the information housed within it.
All Covered Managed Vulnerability Scan will automatically scan your external or internal network on a monthly basis for new vulnerabilities and provides access to detailed reports and remediation recommendations. You also gain access to periodic reviews with All Covered highly skilled solutions architects to discuss your security posture.
What is most important to remember, however, is that vulnerability scanning should be just one part of a larger vulnerability management plan. Scenarios that are presented during the testing phase need to be reviewed regularly so new issues are quickly identified and patched. Of course, the test process, its corresponding results, and the implemented fixes need to be well documented as part of a larger protection plan.
If a company does not have an internal IT department, this could prove daunting. Even with an internal IT department, the bandwidth may not be there to conduct comprehensive testing. It is then worth considering hiring an outside managed IT service organization. They can handle vulnerability testing, review the results, and most importantly, develop a comprehensive protection plan to keep a network protected from outsiders looking to score proprietary data.