Vulnerability management refers to continuously identifying, reporting, and remediating security risks within the cyber assets from networks to cloud platforms. It becomes vital that good cyber security measures with an extensive vulnerability management system be placed to ensure data and application safety.
Now that we’ve answered the question of “what is vulnerability management” let’s take a deeper look into the various facets of vulnerability management, its lifecycle, benefits, and best practices.
What Does the Vulnerability Management Lifecycle Look Like?
A vulnerability management lifecycle is a process that results in the detection, identification, remediation, and confirmation of mitigation of vulnerabilities.
This section details the vulnerability management process comprised within the lifecycle of vulnerability management.
1. Detection Of Vulnerabilities
A well-set vulnerability management lifecycle starts with a comprehensive vulnerability scanning or assessment carried out manually or using automated tools to detect all vulnerabilities present in the system. This includes carrying out authenticated and unauthenticated scans, testing for business logic errors, and weeding out false positives.
In general, it should be able to detect the known CVEs, and vulnerabilities mentioned in standard frameworks like the OWASP Top 10 and SANS 25 as well as based on the current trends in malicious exploitation.
2. Identification Of Vulnerabilities
The next step in vulnerability management involves the identification of vulnerabilities that were found within the system using vulnerability scanners.
The detected vulnerabilities are matched with the vulnerability scanner database to provide identification for the vulnerabilities that could construe a threat to the security of your asset. It is vital to schedule such scans during slower traffic times as it can cause disruptions in regular operational conditions.
3. Evaluation Of Vulnerabilities
The evaluation of identified threats is to prioritize them according to the risk levels posed by each vulnerability. This allows a team to understand which vulnerabilities need to be fixed immediately and make a diligent plan in place of it.
CVSS or Common Vulnerability Scoring System assesses the vulnerabilities according to a few set characteristics like their traits and specific effects on the cloud. Based on the scores, the vulnerabilities are patched.
Once the evaluation is carried out and the flaws are patched, mitigated, or left as such, a detailed vulnerability report is generated by the vulnerability scanner.
This report details the details of the scan, the methods employed to detect vulnerabilities, and the vulnerability database used as a standard reference. Along with this, the vulnerabilities found are listed and extensively explained with their CVSS scores as well as possible remediation measures.
Once the vulnerabilities are assessed according to the risk they pose, it is now time to respond and fix each flaw found. This is done based on the data from the risk assessment.
Based on the threat level four general measures can be opted for to create a viable and healthy security solution for the cloud. This includes patching, shielding, and mitigation.
- Patching: Refers to fixing the highest risk of posing vulnerabilities immediately until the issue is completely eradicated.
- Mitigation: Another step is to try and reduce the risk or problem posed by them to the security of the cloud. This in turn reduces the chances of them being found and exploited.
- Shielding: Difficult or impossible-to-fix vulnerabilities are covered with a protective shield around the vulnerability thereby effectively isolating it.
- No Action: Some flaws have an extremely low CVSS score and the pros of exploiting them are vastly outweighed by the cons therefore no action is taken against them.
The final step after remediation is to avail a re-scan to ensure the security system of the asset is free from all the initially found flaws.
This step in the vulnerability management lifecycle also assesses the reliability of patches and other mitigatory steps taken to remedy vulnerabilities. It also increases your reputation as a safety-conscious provider and increases trustworthiness.
Vulnerability Management Benefits In Detail
Here are some of the reasons why vulnerability management in cybersecurity is important and reaps more benefits in terms of efficiency, costs, and time.
1. Helps in Maintaining Compliance
Many organizations are required to comply with various regulations and industry standards, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and NIST, which mandate regular vulnerability assessments. Using a vulnerability management system is a boon for compliance since it can automate and make efficient the process of vulnerability remediation thereby aiding in meeting compliance requirements.
2. Timely Identification of Threats
The vulnerability management lifecycle dedicates a significant amount of time and resources to the quick and timely detection of potential threats, risks, and vulnerabilities.
Such early threat identification makes a major difference as it ensures that your organization’s web applications, networks, cloud infrastructure, and or other cyber assets are constantly protected.
3. Comes with Remediation Assistance
Threat and vulnerability management programs can help organizations prioritize vulnerabilities based on their severity and potential impact, allowing them to focus on the most critical issues first.
By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities proactively through automated remediation, organizations can minimize the risk of a security breach and protect their sensitive data.
4. Continuous Monitoring of Assets
Vulnerability management programs can continuously monitor the network, systems, and applications for new vulnerabilities and alert the administrator as soon as a new vulnerability is discovered.
5. Time and Cost Effective
The quick detection and remediation of flaws mean that the amount spent on fixing the vulnerabilities and dealing with the blowout from the exploitation of these vulnerabilities will be significantly reduced.
Not having a good vulnerability management solution can cost the organization to spend valuable time and money fixing the after-effects of the exploitation of such vulnerabilities rather than the vulnerabilities themselves. This is where having good vulnerability management helps save time and a lot of manpower.
6. Effective Preventative Measure
Cybersecurity vulnerability management can help organizations successfully prevent a multitude of attacks directed at their sensitive data and applications owing to the 24*7 detection, assessment, and remediation of flaws.
Vulnerability Management Best Practices
This section provides an overview of how to manage vulnerabilities in the best way possible.
Comprehensive Vulnerability Scanning
Making use of a comprehensive vulnerability scanner is an essential part of good security vulnerability management. Continuous scans should be provided by scanners having an extensive vulnerability database.
This component decides how well the scanner can detect and identify vulnerabilities. A good scanner should also be able to carry out behind-the-login scans, detect logic errors, weed out any false positives as well as ensure that are no false negatives.
Integrating threat and vulnerability management into the development allows for continuous scanning for vulnerabilities throughout the progress of the application.
Such integration allows continuous compliance with important regulatory standards like GDPR, ISO 27001, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS.
Conducting regular pentests is an excellent practice for IT vulnerability management. They go a step further from vulnerability scanning by exploiting the found vulnerabilities to properly assess the extent of damage that could occur from such an attack in real-life.
Vulnerability prioritizations are a good practice to follow since it helps you narrow down the vulnerabilities that pose the maximum threat and need immediate fixing from others which can only be mitigated or left as such due to their low risk.
CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) is one such popular system that allows vulnerability prioritization.
Incident Response Procedures
IR is an important part of vulnerability management as it is the backup plan in case a successful malicious attack takes place. Incident response procedures allow the seamless action of steps to be followed.
This results in an efficient system of containing and addressing the damages caused by the exploited vulnerabilities.
Employee training is yet another best practice when it comes to vulnerability management. Vulnerability management not only involves assets and their cyber security but also physical security which is handled majorly by employees.
Therefore employee training is mandatory so that the staff can make security-conscious choices and be aware of the various threats they could fall prey to.
Automated Patch Management
Employing an automated patch management system ensures that vulnerabilities that are detected can be remediated in a timely, consistent manner without compromising on efficiency and compliance for the patch made.
What is the Difference Between Vulnerability Management and Vulnerability Assessment?
A simple way to put the difference between vulnerability management and vulnerability assessment is by pointing out that the latter is just a step in the former. However, let us check out the differences that make these two terms two entirely separate concepts and entities.
|Entire vulnerability lifecycle, from discovery to remediation, is a comprehensive process to keep the organization secure.
|Identifying vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems, applications, and network infrastructure.
|Is a continuous ongoing process.
|Conducted periodically, once or twice a year.
|Mitigate risks by addressing vulnerabilities
|Identify vulnerabilities for risk prioritization.
|Integrated with SOC, Incident Response.
|Integrated into Vulnerability management
Vulnerability Management Solutions: What to Look For?
There are always a certain number of criteria that if present, automatically increases the value provided by the vulnerability management solution. Such features include:
- Continuous vulnerability scans
- Periodically conducted penetration tests
- Provision of real-time alerts for vulnerability detection
- Seamless Integration of the vulnerability management program into SDLC
- Expert guidance during remediation
- Excellent well-written and precise vulnerability reports
Further details on what to look for in a vulnerability management program can be found here.
Astra Security – Best for Cybersecurity Vulnerability Management
- Scanner Capabilities: Web & Mobile Applications, Cloud Infrastructure, API, and Networks
- Accuracy: Zero False Positives Assured (Vetted Scans)
- Scan Behind Logins: Yes
- Compliance Scans: PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOC2, and ISO 27001
- Integrations: Slack, Jira, GitHub, GitLab
- Vulnerability Management: Yes
- Pricing: Starts at $199/month
Astra Security, one of the best vulnerability management companies out there, provides a world-class comprehensive vulnerability scanner and automated or manual pentesting with the following features for effective vulnerability management:
Astra provides regular manual or automated pentests at the request of customers. These pentests are entirely customizable according to the needs of the customer. The pentest service provided by Astra is carried out by ethical hacker experts with years of experience.
Astra Vulnerability Scanner
Astra Security provides continuous scanning facilities with its comprehensive scanner that is capable of conducting more than 3000 tests to find any and every hidden vulnerability.
It offers deep scans for web applications, APIs, networks, mobile applications, and cloud infrastructure.
Astra offers CI/CD integration services for organizations. This helps companies move from DevOps To DevSecOps, thus giving more priority to security within every phase of a project’s development. It offers integrations with Slack, GitHub, and GitLab to name a few.
Astra offers the option to scan for specific compliances required by your organization. It provides a compliance-specific dashboard where you can opt for the specific compliance to scan for.
Once the scan is complete the results reveal the areas of non-compliance. Compliance-specific scans provided by Astra include PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOC2, ISO 27001, and GDPR.
Astra’s pentest certificate is publicly verifiable and can be displayed on customer websites to showcase its reliability and security-conscious nature. This brings about more customers who trust the services offered by your network.
Intuitive Dashboard (CXO friendly)
Astra’s vulnerability scanner boasts a CXO-friendly dashboard that is super easy to navigate. It displays the vulnerabilities as and when they are found.
The dashboard also offers the option to comment under each vulnerability so that the development team can clear queries quickly.
Zero False Positive
Zero false positives are a sure thing with Astra’s thorough vetting which is done by expert pentesters based on the automated pentest results obtained. This double-checking, therefore, ensures that the customers don’t have to worry about any false positive vulnerability detection.
Once the vulnerability scanning is completed a report is generated which includes the scope of testing, a list of vulnerabilities found, their details, and possible remediation measures.
It also mentions its CVSS score and Astra goes a step further by providing customers with an actionable vulnerability risk score based on which critical vulnerabilities can be prioritized.
Vulnerabilities within applications are rather inevitable despite one’s best intentions, however, one important way to prevent them from being negative for your assets is by identifying and mitigating them in a timely manner. Vulnerability management is the best way to go about this as it is a continuous process that can be integrated with various other aspects of security like SOC and IR.
This article has detailed the benefits of vulnerability management, some of the best practices and features to look for, its difference from a vulnerability assessment, and lastly the best vulnerability management program for the job, Astra Security .
What are the 4 types of vulnerabilities seen in cybersecurity?
The 4 types of vulnerabilities commonly seen in cybersecurity are:
1. Human Error Vulnerabilities
2. Network Vulnerabilities
3. Procedural Vulnerabilities
4. Operating System Vulnerabilities
How are vulnerabilities categorized?
Vulnerabilities are categorized based on certain criteria, metrics, CVSS, and also by the level of risk they pose. They are generally categorized into CVEs, CCEs, and CPEs.
What is the difference between vulnerability management and vulnerability assessment?
Vulnerability management is a holistic continuous approach to security that involves constant monitoring, scanning, identifying, and mitigating vulnerabilities whereas vulnerability assessment is a point-in-time approach that is a part of vulnerability management.