Risk-Based Vulnerability Management – What you need to know

Sophisticated cybercriminals are using next-generation attack vectors to target both businesses and individuals to accomplish their malicious goals. Traditional cybersecurity measures are becoming obsolete as modern cybersecurity threats with powerful destructive capabilities continue to emerge. Achieving cyber resilience for businesses has never been more challenging than it is now. Organisations need compact risk-based vulnerability management strategies to identify, contain, and mitigate modern digital security threats.

What is Risk-based vulnerability management?

Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) is a cybersecurity strategy that enables your organisation to identify the potential software and hardware vulnerabilities posing the greatest security risks to your business operations and valuable assets. A risk-based vulnerability management strategy can help your business to improve your overall organisational security posture and to achieve a higher level of cyber resilience against security risks and potential threats that may pose a risk to your business infrastructure.

An effective risk-based vulnerability management strategy is composed of four major components that include:

  • Active threat hunting.
  • Use of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate risk scores based on the likelihood of exploitation or security breach.
  • Asset criticality. Categorization and prioritisation of business assets based upon the level of business importance and contribution to business continuity.
  • Prioritised patching of security vulnerabilities.

The need for risk-based vulnerability management

In addition to a 600% increase in cybercrimes, there are both internal security weaknesses and human mistakes that can expose a business to cybersecurity threats. In today’s hostile cyberspace, there are simply overwhelming amounts of cybersecurity vulnerabilities present in the organisational infrastructure that their cybersecurity teams are not able to mitigate effectively. The increasing rate of cyberattacks and internal security vulnerabilities combined with human mistakes makes it extremely difficult for a business to achieve and maintain effective cyber resilience. Traditional vulnerability scanners are not capable of detecting many critical vulnerabilities in various types of modern network infrastructure. Research indicates that companies on average, have the capacity to properly remediate just one out of every ten vulnerabilities present on their systems. Inability or late identification and response in patching  security vulnerabilities will allow cybercriminals to capitalise on security flaws and facilitate  them to compromise exposed networks and systems.

Deploying an effective risk-based vulnerability management program that is equipped with active threat hunting and AI, will enable your security team to identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals. Continuous identification and patching of security vulnerabilities across your whole environment will improve your overall security posture, increase platform resilience, support business productivity, and maintain profitability.

Vulnerability management best practices

Vulnerability management should be aimed at identification, containment, and mitigation of security vulnerabilities based on the types of risks posed and the level of threat to business continuity and business assets. The mitigation of vulnerabilities must prioritise the protection of  business-critical assets, regardless of the relative difficulty involved. Below are four risk-based vulnerability management building blocks that can help you improve the security posture of the organisation without disturbing business operations.

 1- Improve visibility

Visibility into all assets (every device) on the network or in the environment, both managed and unmanaged devices, BYOD devices, all applications, user activity, and data security measures.

2- Active threat hunting

Scanning and monitoring across a broad range of attack vectors for each asset.

3- Prioritising actions against higher risk items

Patching the low-hanging fruit each month will tick many boxes however this likely repeatedly skips over the very items that harbor the greatest risks.  We must prioritise activity based on addressing risk to the overall operation.  In order to do this we must first assess each asset, assigning each a value of importance in the context of our business operations; how vulnerable is the asset overall (both individual exposure items and the result of each exposure combined); any existing security controls already in place (mitigating factors); and any ongoing operational threats (external and internal).

4- Devising mitigation strategies

These provide guidance on the most effective approach that will facilitate cost-effective mitigation of the variety of specific vulnerabilities identified.

These four elements combine to provide an effective risk-based vulnerability management. The best vulnerability management programs are those that contain information, security policies, and procedures that are understood and implemented by all workplace staff without exception. Innovative risk-based vulnerability management programs are redefining the way organisations, both large and small, approach vulnerability management. A risk-based approach facilitates appropriately targeted timely actions by security teams that reduce the likelihood of vulnerabilities being exploited and a security breach occurring. Risk-based vulnerability management can help your security team to stay vigilant, be effective, proactive, and maintain your cyber resilience as the threat landscape evolves over time.

Reach out to to the team at Intrix Cyber Security to help assist your organisation with vulnerability management.

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