7 Important Principles For A Successful Vulnerability Management Program

Have you considered vulnerability management as a continual, data-driven cycle of security improvement as an organization? Or do you regard it as a means to patch your systems?

When done effectively, a vulnerability management tool not only alerts you to a list of concerns that need to be addressed, but also informs you of the outcomes of your previous I.T., systems management, and security practices. You can then utilize this data to change your security program, investments and goals.

Here is our guide on the 7 principles that cyber-aware companies practice to have an effective vulnerability management program.

1. Executive By-In

It may sound obvious in this context, but vulnerability management programs can fail because of a lack of executive buy-in. So, what exactly does that imply? It implies that the program’s success or failure is solely determined by top leadership priorities.

It matters to the executives, only on the basis of how it affects their success or failure. If you can articulate what they need to do to be effective and work out how the vulnerability management program affects them, you’ll have a much better chance of executive buy-in.

2. Asset Discovery

Understanding what is in your environment is the first step in vulnerability management because those are the assets in which you must locate weaknesses.

Quite frequently, a business may execute a vulnerability management program, only to discover exceptions or areas where they are unfamiliar with the assets.

You’ll end up overlooking facts on what you’re striving to safeguard. As a result, if you don’t start with asset discovery, you won’t be able to develop an effective vulnerability management program.

3. Scan Frequency

Vulnerability assessment software will be used to scan your assets for vulnerabilities.

But, the term “scan frequency” does not imply that you should scan as often as possible. It’s critical to rationalize scan frequency rather than scanning as frequently as possible. The scan results, in turn, should be linked to the corrective actions being taken in your company.

Scanning more than you need to can be ineffective if your remediation cycle is lengthy. You’ll want to create a logical link between how frequently you assess your organization’s assets and how often you actually remediate them.

Start your investigation at a small section of your network and expand as the confidence in your tools and processes grows.

4. Incorporating Business Context

Because not all assets are formed in equal environments, if you can’t identify which assets are critical to your business while completing a vulnerability assessment, then you won’t be able to adequately handle any vulnerabilities. You’ll only be assessing the symptoms, but not managing them.

The business context includes how essential an asset is, as well as what systems an asset is a part of and how important those systems are in the business. It’s a crucial habit in high-performing vulnerability management strategies.

5. Exceptions are the Exception

There are some assets in an environment that cannot be scanned for vulnerabilities. They may be old and shaky, or they may be sensitive, or the business unit may refuse to accept the assessment of that asset. This is especially true for those who operate in a control system for an industrial plant.

Yet, in organizations with a fluid vulnerability management program, such exceptions are the exception. The more of the surface area you leave out of vulnerability screening, the less you’ll be able to grasp the risk and hence miss out on valuable information.

6. Managing to Metrics

When it comes to vulnerabilities, it’s easy to believe finding more is useful than correcting more. But, it will be impossible to measure how many vulnerabilities you uncover and how to repair them if you don’t grasp the metrics surrounding what vulnerabilities imply to your organization and how your business operates.

In such scenarios, you are not measuring whether you’re effectively minimizing risk or not. Organizations that run a successful vulnerability management program tend to establish a set of metrics that make sense to the company, that inspire the right kinds of remedial activity, and then utilize those metrics as management tools.

7. Remediation Workflow

Many vulnerability assessment programs run scans, identify vulnerabilities, and pass them on to other parties, yet nothing is done with the vulnerabilities. Nobody actually repairs them, and any risk minimization is coincidental.

You are not managing vulnerabilities if the vulnerability assessment is not linked to a remediation procedure or process. Also, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to remediation.

Organizations work in different ways, so you’ll need to understand how your organization works (on a network security level) to tie your vulnerability assessment to a remedial strategy.

Key Takeaway

A vulnerability management program can benefit your business by providing stakeholders with only the information they need to make informed decisions about your cybersecurity operations.

Interested in building and executing a great vulnerability management program?

Start with a free consultation session by clicking here.

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