The risks associated with malware, data theft, and compromise of technology infrastructure are ever-present, and the tools and techniques required to achieve it are worryingly easy to access via a simple Internet search.
The advent of cloud computing has increased productivity, and the ease with which new technologies can be adopted. Your users can access corporate systems from home, and the deployment of a new application or service costs a fraction of what it used to. But flexibility in connectivity also increases the attack surface, the frequency of releases introduces a greater likelihood of misconfiguration, and the cost savings associated with cloud deployments can soon be wiped out by the reputational cost of a breach.
The challenge for security teams to maintain the integrity of the technology environment grows with complexity, and a deep understanding of the associated risks requires analysis of all technology tiers holistically, rather than in isolation. Vulnerability management can no longer be an afterthought, it needs to be front and center.
Vulnerability Management - Focus on What Matters Most
Easy to say, but the single most important step to take as an organization on the path to effective vulnerability management is establishing your key assets. As mentioned, your first scan is likely to reveal hundreds of vulnerabilities across the technology estate, and dozens per system of varying severities. The key to effective management is determining which systems, and which vulnerabilities, represent the greatest risk to your organization.
A high severity vulnerability on an internal system that holds no sensitive data may be less of a threat to your organization than a public-facing system with a medium severity vulnerability, that connects to systems holding customer data. Only with that kind of context, analysis, and insight, can resources be allocated appropriately to address underlying issues.
Effective vulnerability management solutions can be of enormous help in keeping track of vulnerability status, and providing actionable information emphasizing your key assets. They can also provide contextual information on the factors that make a vulnerability of a greater or lesser severity than it may first appear. A vulnerability is not a threat without exposure and may be mitigated by other controls. It may also be worse than it first appears owing to exposed secrets, misconfiguration, or proximity to other systems. A modern vulnerability management solution should operate beyond a CVSS score, providing a consolidated view of risk factors tailored to your organization and enabling effective prioritization.
Vulnerability Remediation Best Practices for Your Business
There are five areas of best practice to establish effective vulnerability management:
Discover assets: It is obvious that effective management of anything starts with identification, but in a complex technology environment encompassing on-premises and cloud as well as multiple cloud service providers, it is often easier said than done. Vulnerability management solutions that offer dynamic identification and assessment of assets simplify this process.
Scan frequently: Vulnerability management is only as good as its coverage, and effective solutions must scan frequently to stay in step with emerging threats.
Review, assign owners, and remediate proactively: Reviewing vulnerabilities over time and accurately reporting a contextual threat score is critically important to vulnerability management. With the number of threats out there, a long list of problems is of very little help to anybody. Armed with good quality management information, decisions can be taken on how best to protect an organization’s digital assets.
Prioritize the patching process: A familiar theme, but without effective prioritization a security team could be overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge in a large technology environment. Contextual information enables effective prioritization of remediation activities based on the real risk they pose, rather than just a CVSS score.
Establish a remediation process: With vulnerability management being a continuous process rather than a one-off event, it is important to implement a robust and consistent remediation process informed by the prioritization information gathered previously. Resources should be deployed to address vulnerabilities with the greatest blast radius first.
Let’s take a closer look at each:
Asset discovery is the process of identifying all devices and resources within an organization's IT infrastructure. Running a discovery scan is an effective way to generate a full list of every device in your environment, and being able to identify previously unknown or unobserved assets without a significant administrative overhead demands an agentless vulnerability management solution.
Defining scope and analyzing the results of the scan will identify all the devices and resources in your environment, enabling regular scans to be targeted appropriately and metadata to be added to better identify digital assets.
With new vulnerabilities being identified every day, regular vulnerability scans are essential to maintaining cloud security. Scans should be initiated in response to vendor patches, organization release schedules, and new deployments, as well as automated to run regularly. This repetition will inform analysis of trends as well as helping to identify key areas for prioritization based on contextual reporting information.
A modern vulnerability management solution will be able to integrate with your existing tools and processes, as well as providing automation and orchestration capabilities.
Review, assign owners, and remediate proactively
Once a scan has completed and vulnerabilities have been identified, it is important to take action. A vulnerability report will not, of itself, improve security posture. Review findings in severity order, using metadata on service and system ownership to allocate responsibility for remediation to the most appropriate individual or department.
With ownership established, remediation can be undertaken by those closest to the system. This enables the most cost-effective and efficient remediation of vulnerabilities, as well as promoting a proactive approach to vulnerability management on the part of those responsible.
Prioritize the patching process
In modern multi-cloud enterprise technology environments, the establishment of a vulnerability management process can result in significant numbers of alerts being triggered. It is important to prioritize remediation activities to avoid alert fatigue, and ensure the most critical vulnerabilities are addressed first.
A modern vulnerability management solution should evaluate multiple risk factors, such as external connectivity, misconfigurations including exposed secrets, adjacent component interfaces and malware, to arrive at a holistic vulnerability evaluation that enables effective prioritization of remediation activity.
Establish a remediation process
Having established ownership and informed vulnerability prioritization, creation of a formalized remediation process will promote the consistent resolution of identified vulnerabilities. It is important that vulnerabilities be addressed in terms of severity to your organization rather than CVSS score. Some vulnerabilities are not associated with specific risks to data and may not be considered a risk to your organization, and any such vulnerability can be considered low priority regardless of its associated severity. Only contextual vulnerability management tools can reliably inform such decision making.
Establish a severity threshold that demands remediation, and concentrate efforts on only those vulnerabilities that breach the threshold to avoid unnecessary activity from already busy development and operations teams. Ensure that your remediation process addresses vulnerabilities that correspond to identifiable risks – security that cannot communicate value is not worthwhile security.
To find out more about how Wiz’svulnerability management solution can help you identify and prioritize threats to your organization, contact us for ademo.