Implementing vulnerability management is a huge undertaking for most businesses. Ensuring that your approach to vulnerabilities is effective is another story entirely. Fortunately, getting effective vulnerability management doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow the steps in this guide to help your business work toward more effective and efficient procedures.
What Is Vulnerability Management?
Before implementing a process, it’s important to know exactly what you’re signing your organization up for. Simply put, vulnerability management is the process of monitoring and remediating risks on an ongoing basis. There is no “end point” since security threats and risks can change on a day-to-day basis. Ongoing efforts at monitoring, managing, and remediating those risks can help minimize the damage to your organization’s systems—and your operations.
1. Use a Risk-Based Approach
Perhaps the first thing to do is consider the guiding paradigm you’ll be using in your system. Many companies simply don’t put much thought into their approach to vulnerabilities; the processes employed are often ad hoc, based on what risks seem most threatening at any given point in time.
Using a risk-based approach, however, allows you to manage vulnerabilities more systematically. Rather than scanning systems once a year or once a month, you can be monitoring systems and system components on an ongoing basis, assessing risk frequently, and taking action to remediate issues when they become apparent—rather than waiting until something is an emergency.
2. Ensure Compliance
While compliance isn’t security—not by a long stretch—it can be a good first step toward creating an effective system for managing vulnerabilities. Many standards will have recommendations and requirements for monitoring and remediation activities. Working from this base, companies can create management systems that ensure not only compliance, but also enhanced security.
3. Go Beyond Compliance
Compliance is a good first step; the standards allow you to set a framework for certain procedures or protocols. Once you’ve established that your business is compliant, however, it’s time to move to the next level. While a security standard might require you to scan your systems only once a year, you can opt to scan more frequently or even on an ongoing basis to ensure that you’re always on top of risks as they manifest.
4. Rationalize Remediation
System scans can return a vast array of information about security risks and potential threats. That can make them daunting to navigate. Rationalize your remediation procedures by assessing your system components and determining what infrastructure is critical to your operations. Part and parcel of your risk-based paradigm, this allows you to address those threats that are truly risks to your security.
As established, the once-a-year scans recommended by most standards and legislation simply aren’t sufficient. But neither are once-a-month scans. Instead, your organization should aim to monitor vulnerabilities on an ongoing basis. That way, you can track the effectiveness of patches and other remediation work, as well as keep tabs on critical infrastructure, recurrent issues, or even just monitor your ever-changing environment. While there may not be a threat today, there is always the risk that there will be one tomorrow.
6. Use Vulnerability Management Software
Rather than relying solely on your IT team to be efficient and effective at implementing a risk-based vulnerability management system, help them out with some new tools. Software designed to help you manage vulnerabilities can help your IT team perform routine scans, monitor previous patches, record remediation work, assess risks and critical infrastructure, and so much more. If there’s a job to be done, you want the best tool to complete it—and for managing vulnerabilities, software tools can be your IT team’s best friend.