Vulnerability scanning is an important part of many compliance standards. Vulnerability remediation is only a logical next step for those companies already scanning their systems on a regular basis; after all, if you have a report about the issues, shouldn’t you work to fix them? These steps, combined with more consistent and frequent monitoring, are known as “vulnerability management.” But remediation can be time-consuming, and scanning can be costly. That’s why you should be using a risk-based approach to vulnerability management; the benefits are many.
5. Narrow the Field
Vulnerability scans have limitations. First and foremost, most companies don’t scan their systems frequently enough; they scan only as often as needed to remain compliant with standards and legislation. The other problem is the reports themselves: the scans, which can list hundreds or thousands of items, only label threats as “high,” “medium,” or “low” risk. This gives no information about the context the risk exists in. A risk-based approach, on the other hand, uses contextual information about your network and system to determine which items are truly high-risk and high-priority.
4. Save Time and Money
Once you’ve weeded out low-risk items from your scan report, you can focus on just those items that truly need to be remediated. That means you can save time and money. Rather than picking through a report line by line, the IT team can target just those really important items to be remediated. And since the team knows the items they’re fixing have direct bearing on security, they’ll be more motivated to get the job done quickly. You may even be able to automate some parts of the remediation and mitigation process, which frees your IT team to deal with true issues.
3. Be Aware of Problems Sooner
One thing that vulnerability management emphasizes—over both scanning and remediation—is the need to ensure that the process is ongoing. Rather than scanning annually or even once a month, a risk-based approach recommends monitoring your systems on a continuous basis. That way, you’ll be aware of problems as they arise—and much sooner than you would be if you waited a month or even a year to detect the issue. In an environment where the situation can change within the day, and where criminals are willing to exploit any weakness, keeping on top of vulnerabilities in your systems is a must.
2. Scan Where You Need To
In addition to increasing the frequency of vulnerability scanning, a risk-based approach also means you can pinpoint systems that need to be scanned more frequently. If you were aware of a vulnerability on one part of your network that was remediated, you might decide to scan that particular part of the system more frequently for a certain amount of time. In doing so, you would be able to verify whether the vulnerability was truly fixed, to keep tabs on potential issues as they crop up, or to ensure no one is taking advantage of a suppressed vulnerability. While this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scan the rest of your system, it can help you monitor how successful your remediation efforts are.
1. Make Better Decisions about Resources
The core of the risk-based approach to vulnerability management is making decisions: what to patch first, what to leave alone, and what to simply suppress. When everything is high-priority, nothing is priority. That applies to categorizing risk. With a better understanding of your system and assets, and the role they play in your business, you can make better decisions about which assets need to be protected first and foremost. Your resources are scarce, so being able to make those decisions—and make them quickly—will help you allocate those resources in an effective way.