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Vulnerability management is the process to identify, prioritise and remediate the security vulnerabilities present in a software or a system. It helps to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of the organisation.
The software and network vulnerabilities are high-risk vectors. An attacker with the help of these vulnerabilities can exploit their system and can also steal sensitive user data.
So, it’s important for any organisation to constantly identify vulnerabilities present in their system and take appropriate action to remediate them.
Vulnerability management is essential for organisations of all sizes viz. startups, MSMEs, and Enterprises. The need can vary from following various compliance and regulations mandates like ISO 27001, PCI-DSS, HIPAA etc or maintaining strong security and data protection policies.
The first step of vulnerability management is to identify it. It can be done by two methods: Pen-testing and Vulnerability Assessment. A penetration test is an authorised simulated attack performed on a computer system to evaluate its security. Penetration testers use the same tools, techniques, and processes as attackers to find and demonstrate the business impacts of weaknesses in a system.
Whereas vulnerability assessment is a systematic process of finding weaknesses in a system they are typically automated, Vulnerability assessment can be instigated manually or run on a scheduled basis. These scans generate an extensive list of vulnerabilities found and references for further research on the vulnerability.
Other ways through which you can identify vulnerabilities in an organization's IT systems and applications are:
Once the vulnerabilities are identified we can go to the other process which is to evaluate them.
After vulnerabilities are identified, the next step is to evaluate and prioritise them. This process includes evaluating the reports of pen-testing and vulnerability scans to identify the weak points that can trigger possible attacks on the software or the infrastructure.
Prioritising which vulnerabilities are critical and must-fix is a crucial step in the process of vulnerability management as the count of identified vulnerabilities could easily run into thousands and it is not possible for any team to fix them all.
In this, a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is used which is a standard method used by researchers to identify the level of vulnerability according to their characteristics and you can fetch this data from NVD Database.
After the organisation has evaluated and prioritised the vulnerability it’s time to take action against this vulnerability. In this phase, either manual patches are applied or automated patch management solutions are used. Most times a combination of both is required.
Risk-based vulnerability management is used to identify vulnerability and prioritise on the basis of scale the damage that can be caused by the vulnerability. It helps you understand the threat context and business impact of the vulnerability thus helping you focus on what is really a critical vulnerability in your system as opposed to something being theoretically exploitable.
We talk about Risk-based vulnerability management in more detail in our next blog.
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