With the changing digital landscape and multi-year ongoing transformational initiatives across industries, cyber threats are rising. These threats are a byproduct of continuous changes to the IT ecosystem (expanding the attack surface), which increases the number of vulnerabilities existing in an environment.

Many of these threats are an undeviating result of unpatched vulnerabilities existing in the IT environments, which get targeted by adversaries looking to exploit such vulnerabilities to gain access to the environment.

Cybercriminals are also leveraging sophisticated tactics on the shifting ecosystem with the acceleration of IoT technologies and transformations such as Industry 4.0 or an increase in remote work/access amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These factors have incremented the attack surface for adversaries to take advantage of – costing the global economy as much as nearly just under a record $1 trillion in 2020.

Challenges with Vulnerability Management

It is crucial to understand a vulnerability management program needs to be strategic and valuable for the business. If applied successfully, it shall not augment the security posture of an organization’s assets but also economically suppress the likelihood of potential breaches.

Vulnerability management looks quite like a straightforward process that could reduce cyber-related attacks, but if it is so easy, why it gets operationally a bit challenging? In this post, we discuss some of the key challenges which we tend to resolve using Strobes.

challenges with vulnerability management

Challenge #1: Identification of Vulnerabilities

One of the initial steps for the vulnerability remediation process is to identify the security vulnerability across the environment. Matured vulnerability management programs implement a shift left approach – wherein, vulnerabilities are identified from the design phase in the system development lifecycle.

The majority of the organizations follow a traditional approach of conducting security assessment during the final stages of system/application releases which also limits the scope of security domains that could be validated.

Secondly, with organizations embracing agile methodologies, as soon a scan is finished, it sometimes is already outdated. With large transformation programs, gaps between automated and manual security assessments leave with a partial picture of the vulnerability landscape at a given time. This also ties with another challenge of not assessing assets that are considered out of scope either due to a recent assessment conducted or due to the fact that the assets are not recognized (lack of visibility) or are recently patched.

It is important to understand with near real-time visibility and coverage details of assets, organizations are one step closer to protect their environment.

Challenge #2: Vulnerabilities Overload

With a multitude of security tools deployed and ongoing automated and manual vulnerability assessments, the number of infrastructure and application vulnerabilities getting logged is enormous.

With such vulnerability overload in today’s date, it is essential to understand that vulnerability management goes beyond identifying the vulnerabilities – to also understanding the threats and risks from a business contextualization stance, via normalizing the threat to an organization.

Challenge #3: Vulnerability Prioritization

Due to the changing landscape and evolution, vulnerabilities and tactics to exploit a vulnerability are changing every day. This, in fact, brings various challenges including the possibility of not prioritizing vulnerabilities, across the stakeholders involved from CXOs, product owners, development team, IT team, and security engineers.

As everything, can’t be fixed at a given point in time, one of the most common challenges for organizations of all sizes – is prioritizing which vulnerabilities need to be remediated. With thousands of vulnerabilities existing in an organization, business and security teams may lose sight. Also, the severity of vulnerabilities to the business or product can be deceiving sometimes.

Most of the critical or at-risk business assets traditionally help determine the priority, with an assumption that any critical vulnerability does not pose the same security risk to a business asset.

This is where, some of the following key criteria are crucial for any organization – having a clear understanding of the business profile and associated risk appetite for the organization + a grip on what the organization needs to protect.

If an organization has meaningful insights available to the business processes, with technical details related to the vulnerability and adequate threat intelligence – prioritization metrics can be defined tailored to an organization.

Handling these challenges with Strobes

Challenges are generally an essential part of any security program. Strobes – our risk-centered vulnerability management platform, enables organizations to streamline these challenges inherently. Strobes can integrate with various cybersecurity tools to power up and modernize the vulnerability management process. This can help organizations in aggregating vulnerabilities and remove redundancies.

Using machine learning and threat intelligence, the platform associates real-world risk to the organization and prioritizes the vulnerabilities based on various business and technical metrics so that you’re closing the right vulnerabilities at the right time. With this auto prioritization of vulnerabilities, Strobes offers security managers a mechanism to proactively manage and mitigate cyber risk operations.

Strobes could also integrate with the organization’s centralized asset inventory and open source/commercial security scanners to improve reconciliation, tracking, and prioritization of assets and vulnerabilities. This would also help agglomerate vulnerabilities from various sources and conduct correlation of vulnerabilities which can further provide a consolidated view of findings. Strobes generally compute a prioritization score for each vulnerability with a metric – considering the vulnerability details, business context, and threat intel, which practically transcends the resolution efforts.

Thus, to achieve a robust vulnerability management program, the vulnerability management lifecycle needs to mature via a process or a platform that could aggregate and normalize the vulnerabilities across multiple sources, prioritize the vulnerabilities based on the risk identified as per the business contextualization (classified as per the threat intel, vulnerability context and risk for the asset and the organization) provide sufficient privilege to increase the operational time from the vulnerability management.

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