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Why Vulnerability Assessments Are Insufficient

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You know you need to be compliant with all the standards and legislation affecting your industry, and you know that means you need to assess your business’s vulnerabilities. Today’s organizations operate in an environment where the greatest advantage can be knowing oneself. This includes knowing what you do well, how you can improve, and what your weaknesses are. This is especially true of cybersecurity.

Even though a business can be compliant with standards and legislation simply by doing vulnerability assessments, that’s only half the battle. In fact, if you’re only doing vulnerability assessments, your vulnerability management is insufficient.

More to the Story

Vulnerability assessments are a good start to implementing vulnerability management. Unfortunately, most businesses stop there, as doing an assessment fulfills the minimum requirements of many standards.

But they are not doing all they can do to ensure their systems are safe. In fact, they’re only seeing half the story. Imagine asking for a report about employee theft and, once you receive the report, doing nothing with it. This is akin to doing a vulnerability assessment but not doing anything to remediate the vulnerabilities.

The Next Step: Vulnerability Remediation

Once you have your report about employee theft, your next step would likely be to enact measures to stop this behavior. The same rules apply to vulnerability reports: once you have your assessment, you should be taking steps to fix the identified vulnerabilities. It’s one thing to know about risks and quite another to do something about them.

Many companies don’t engage in vulnerability remediation for a variety of reasons. It’s often a very daunting task, as scan reports can run into the thousands of items; it can be difficult to know what to fix—and what to fix first. That means remediating identified vulnerabilities can become an exercise in futility for IT departments as they spend time fixing items without knowing if they’re actually improving system security. That doesn’t seem very cost-effective or efficient. Rather than spending the time and money, many companies will simply stop at the assessment stage, because nothing more is required of them to be compliant.

Why You Need to Go Further

As you’ve seen, it’s not the best strategy to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and leave it at that. Just knowing about a risk doesn’t prevent people from exploiting it. You need to take action, even if remediation seems like a daunting or futile effort. Fortunately, new approaches to remediation are improving ROI and efficiency, which means that undertaking this task just got a little less difficult.

A Risk-Based Approach

One of the drawbacks of most scans is that they don’t take network context into account. With a risk-based approach, additional information about assets—such as the type of asset and the asset’s location—gives you better insight into what needs to be fixed right now. Remediation can now prioritize tasks more effectively, leading to higher efficiency in implementation, better security for your systems as you address actual risks, and an improved ROI on your initial assessment—and any subsequent vulnerability management activities you undertake.

A New Understanding of Vulnerability Management

Taking the step beyond vulnerability assessment and moving into remediation is part of a new understanding of how businesses must manage risks to their cybersecurity. Rather than simply scanning once a month or once a year, today’s companies are looking to continuous vulnerability management—which includes scanning and remediation—to keep them up-to-date and protected in an ever-changing environment. By employing the more holistic concept of vulnerability management, not only will you keep your systems more secure, but you’ll improve your costs and efficiency as well.

Want to learn more? Download our free guide on a risk-based approach to vulnerability remediation.

A Risk-Based Approach  to Vulnerability Remediation

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