Right now there are an estimated 22 billion internet connected devices worldwide and 50 billion projected by 2030, many of which can be accessed remotely by cybercriminals who search for ways to hack your systems and obtain your personal information.
However, this “anywhere at any time” accessibility that enables your business, can also be one of its biggest weaknesses. Using powerful and automated probing and scanning techniques, cybercriminals seek out weaknesses to exploit in your IT infrastructure that can result in untold damage to an organization.
Therefore, how your organization decides to identify, analyze, prioritize, and remediate these enterprise IT vulnerabilities is vital to keeping your data and processes secure. In other words, your organization needs a structured, holistic process—commonly known as a vulnerability management program—to stay on top of the vulnerabilities that cybercriminals crave.
Just what is a vulnerability management program, and how can your organization take the steps to establish one? This article will take you through the key components to kickstart your own program and why the absence of such a program is an invitation for disaster.
What is a vulnerability management program?
Threats to your IT assets can literally come from anywhere, at any time. This underscores the critical nature of developing and implementing a structured vulnerability management program to greatly reduce cybersecurity threats to your organization.
A vulnerability management program is a security practice specifically designed to proactively reduce and mitigate exploitations that result in loss of data, system downtime, and damage to an organization’s reputation and public trust. Vulnerability management programs are an established security best practice.
The number of endpoints in an enterprise continues to grow at alarming rates as IoT devices and mobile devices continue their surge. Axians’ Vulnerability Management service enables organizations to proactively secure their IT assets by identifying, classifying, prioritizing, remediating, and mitigating risks within their networked technology infrastructure.
Once in place, a vulnerability management program allows your organization to make informed decisions and properly prioritize what vulnerabilities to mitigate and how. Not only can this help your organization save time and resources, it can also reduce your organization’s overall risk, because those threats with the biggest impact get the focus they deserve.
Although the implementation of a vulnerability management program can vary across an organization, they generally include the following processes:
- Identifying vulnerabilities: Using automated and manual capture of application and network risks
- Evaluating vulnerabilities: Using a consistent risk assessment and scoring system to measure the severity and likelihood of a risk occurring
- Treating vulnerabilities: Making a determination of how a vulnerability should be handled, including remediation, mitigation, or acceptance; these decisions are usually coordinated with your stakeholders
- Reporting: Communicating and tracking vulnerabilities over time to monitor trends and provide justification for resources, as needed
Additionally, it is important to remember that vulnerability management is not just about patch management, although that is a key component that can improve your overall cybersecurity controls. A vulnerability management program can, for example, inform decisions, testing, and timing governed by a patch management program, but vulnerability management should always focus on the enterprise and remember that a vulnerability management program is all about people, processes, and technology.
What are other key components of a robust vulnerability management program?
Making a vulnerability management program come alive involves a number of inputs and collaboration across an organization. Some of the more important include the following:
- Threat intelligence: A method to consolidate and analyze data from internal and external sources on active and potential cyberthreats
- Risk Management Framework: A structured way to score and prioritize risks for action; this process also inventories your assets for identification and prioritization processes
- Communications Process: A predetermined process that identifies how risks are communicated, monitored, and escalated based on calculated probability and impact
- Vulnerability Management Program Governance: Executive support for key decisions and resource needs
- Incident Response Plan: A plan that identifies the steps that operational and security professionals will take in the event that a vulnerability is exploited in order to contain and eliminate the threat
Take the next step to establish your own vulnerability management program.
Vulnerability management is a complex, evolving, ongoing process that needs to continuously adapt to your business and the risks present in your operating environment. At the same time, your staff need access to the latest training, tools, and processes in order to give them every advantage they can have to stay ahead of threats.
No matter where your organization is in its vulnerability management journey—just starting or looking for a way to rise to meet bigger threats—Axians can help with each phase and provide your team with the tools you need to defend your critical assets.
Ready to take the next step? Contact us to proactively get your vulnerability management program started. Cybercriminals don’t rest, neither can you.