AcademyHow vulnerability management has evolved

How vulnerability management has evolved

As technology evolves at an exponential pace, security vulnerabilities are becoming a daily occurrence.

Wiz Experts Team

The consequence of this is an increase in cyberattacks of all types, and organizations need to remain vigilant as they progress their cloud transformation journeys, mindful of the ever-increasing attack surface. 

Vulnerability management began as a reactive and labor-intensive process that focused on the technical specifics of a vulnerability and how to address it, with most vulnerabilities requiring manual remediation. That approach was not sustainable at scale, and modern vulnerability management solutions provide tools to permit proactive response, as well as automating remediation and reducing overheads. 

A risk-based and contextual approach to vulnerability management has emerged, enabling organizations to stay ahead of increasing threats in a continuously evolving landscape. 

Vulnerability Management Evolution 

As the world becomes ever-more digital, with the increasing use of cloud services, remote working practices, and social media driving the push toward greater technology adoption across all sectors, vulnerability management has changed. Around the turn of the century, vulnerability management didn’t extend far past making sure operating systems were patched, while nowadays that is merely a link in the vulnerability management chain. 

Common Vulnerability Scoring Systems, or CVSS, has been popular to establish vulnerability severity. While a CVSS score provides a security team with some detail around a vulnerability, it cannot provide contextual information based on the specific organization and is therefore of limited use. This means a need for skilled, experienced, and expensive teams to provide that context and assess the risk, before determining and executing remedial action. 

Organizations began to use risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) services, and threat intelligence (TI) offerings began to integrate CVSS scoring to offer a fuller vulnerability management solution. This combination of solutions provided a better picture of the actual threat behind a CVSS score by detailing how a vulnerability might be exploited by a malicious actor, and the weaknesses that would enable compromise to occur. While a massive step forward for vulnerability management, such tools were still complex and time-consuming, requiring a large administrative commitment while still lacking the business-specific context that would enable effective risk assessment and prioritization. 

The march to the cloud has acquainted customers with reduced delivery times, increasing expectations of management tools in general. With cloud resource consumption increasing all the time, the latest iteration of vulnerability management tools has become application focused. This focus means security can shift-left, enabling vulnerability discovery to be embedded in the software development lifecycle for earlier detection and remediation of vulnerabilities. 

How vulnerability management has evolved 

The adoption of cloud services and changing threat landscape has led to significant developments in vulnerability management over the years. Key areas of change in recent times include: 

  • Scanning tools: As the number of vulnerabilities increases, vulnerability scanners emerged to help organizations proactively identify vulnerabilities on their networks and systems. These scanners automated the process of identifying vulnerabilities and provided a way to prioritize remediation efforts based on the severity of the vulnerabilities. 

  • Integrated vulnerability management: As organizations began to realize that vulnerability management was not just a technical issue, but also a business issue, integrated vulnerability management solutions emerged. These solutions provided a way to centralize vulnerability data, prioritize remediation efforts based on business impact, and report on progress to management. 

  • Continuous monitoring: With the rise of cloud computing and DevOps, vulnerability management has evolved to become more continuous. Rather than performing periodic scans, organizations are now able to continuously monitor their networks and systems for vulnerabilities. This allows them to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in near real-time. 

  • Risk-based approach: Finally, vulnerability management has evolved to become more risk-based. Organizations are now taking a more holistic approach to vulnerability management, considering risks in a business specific context rather than focusing on the technical specifics of a vulnerability. This means that vulnerabilities with a higher risk to the organization are given higher priority for remediation. 

  • Proactive vulnerability management: Vulnerability management used to be a reactive process. Organizations relied on security researchers to identify vulnerabilities and release patches to fix them. Once a vulnerability was publicly disclosed, organizations would scramble to patch their systems before attackers could exploit them. With the advent of continuous scanning, frequent vulnerability updates, and automation, comes a more proactive and less resource-intensive approach to vulnerability management. 

The evolution of vulnerability management has enabled organizations to keep up with the pace of a changing threat landscape, remaining ahead of emerging threats. 

What’s in store for vulnerability management? 

The future of vulnerability management will be shaped by emerging technologies, as well as being driven by ever-increasing scale to automate the proactive management of vulnerabilities with greater business intelligence. 

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: The amount of data generated by the proliferation of cloud technologies continues to grow, and the vulnerability management solutions will need to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze and prioritize vulnerabilities. This approach will enable more accurate risk assessments based on larger data pools, and faster remediation. 

  • Automation: As technology environments continue to grow, vulnerability management will become more automated, enabling the proactive detection and remediation of vulnerabilities in real-time. This automation will help organizations keep in step with rapidly emerging threats, as well as reducing the administrative overhead associated with vulnerability management. 

  • DevOps integration: Identifying and remediating vulnerabilities before they can be exploited in production calls for pipeline integration. Further integrating vulnerability management into the software development life cycle will result in more secure applications and infrastructure from the outset. Security by design, rather than as a bolt-on. 

  • Cloud-based vulnerability management solutions: With organizations increasingly adopting cloud technologies, use of cloud-based vulnerability management solutions are a logical next step. Cloud vulnerability management solutions will scan and monitor cloud workloads, as well as cloud-native applications and services. 

  • Focus on supply chain security: Attacks on thesupply chain are becoming increasingly common, and a greater focus on third-party risk management is required. Vulnerability management tools that assess the security posture of suppliers and partners, as well as solutions that automate detection and remediation of vulnerabilities in third-party software and services, will address these threats. 

The future of vulnerability management will be characterized by greater automation, integration with DevOps, and a focus on supply chain security. As threats continue to evolve, vulnerability management solutions will need to adapt to stay ahead of the curve. To find out how Wiz’sautomated vulnerability management solution can help you proactively detect and remediate threats to your organization, contact us for a demo.