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7 tips for an effective threat and vulnerability management program

Dr. Heather Buker Jan 03, 2023

Threat actors are constantly searching for ways to exploit vulnerabilities in networks and software systems. These threats can come from both domestic and global sources and can take many forms, such as unpatched systems, poor network designs, and outdated technologies.

According to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, exploited vulnerabilities accounted for 7% of breaches this year, a significant increase from the previous year. Without an effective threat and vulnerability management program, organizations are at risk of new threats and attacks that can lead to data loss, stolen credentials, or even data held for ransom.

The consequences of these exploits can be severe, impacting the financial, legal, reputational, and other aspects of the business. Thus, it is crucial for organizations to have a plan in place to address vulnerabilities and protect against threats in the form of a robust threat and vulnerability management program.

Tips for effective threat and vulnerability management

A robust threat and vulnerability management program needs effort. Below are some tips to make the program successful. 

1. Perform pen testing

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a crucial part of maintaining network security. It involves simulating an attack on a system in order to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. By conducting regular penetration tests, businesses can find and fix these vulnerabilities, improving their security infrastructure and protecting against external attacks. 

In addition, pen testing provides unbiased and expert insights into a business's security posture. When combined with other threat management processes, such as vulnerability assessment services, regular penetration testing can be an effective way to address and remediate security flaws in networks.

2. Update software regularly

It is not realistic to expect software and systems to be perfect, but it is possible to continually improve them over time. One way to do this is by applying updates when they become available. These updates often address known vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers, so applying them promptly can help secure your networks. Software vendors regularly release updates for operating systems and popular applications. 

While it is important to apply updates as soon as possible, it is also best practice to test them in a development or testing environment that mirrors production before implementing them in order to avoid any potential issues with functionality. This helps ensure that updates are effective at improving security without disrupting normal operations.

3. Keep track of all hardware and software assets

It is essential to keep track of all hardware and software assets, even those that seem harmless or are no longer in use. These assets may represent weak points in your security infrastructure that could be exploited by attackers. 

It is also important to remember that the security of your organization is only as strong as its weakest points, so it is crucial to identify and address any vulnerabilities in your network. Failing to account for all assets, whether they are software or hardware, can make it difficult to secure them and leave your organization vulnerable to attack.

4. Be aware of the emerging threats and cyber trends

Having a deep understanding of potential threats and vulnerabilities can be a powerful tool in protecting your networks. Attackers are constantly searching for ways to exploit weaknesses, so it is important to stay informed and stay ahead of them. To do this, it is recommended to follow up-to-date threat intelligence feeds, which are maintained by experts who track emerging threats and vulnerabilities. 

By staying informed about the latest threats and vulnerabilities, you can ensure that your network is protected from even the most recently discovered threats.

5. Fix the identified vulnerabilities and threats

Vulnerability assessments and penetration tests can help identify security weaknesses in your network, but it is your responsibility to fix them. As new vulnerabilities are discovered and made public, it is important to take steps to protect your network against exploitation. 

To do this, you should stay informed about current vulnerabilities and work to implement fixes for them. A combination of threat intelligence feeds and tools that track vulnerabilities and fixes can help you maintain an overview of your network's security posture and identify any necessary improvements. It is important to regularly assess and address vulnerabilities in order to keep your network secure.

6. Build a risk-aware culture

Employees can be a potential weak point in your cybersecurity infrastructure, so it is important to educate all members of your organization about good cybersecurity practices. Simply having IT staff understand the potential threats and vulnerabilities is not enough. Your entire organization needs to be aware of the risks and how to avoid compromising your network security through irresponsible practices. 

Even the most advanced security measures cannot protect against employees accidentally allowing attackers into their networks. Make sure that all staff members understand the risks and are aware of the importance of being vigilant and careful in order to keep your network secure.

7. Use the right tools

There are many tools and applications available that can help you build and maintain a strong cybersecurity infrastructure. These tools can make your job easier and more effective by automating tasks such as managing updates and scanning for vulnerabilities

Patch management tools and vulnerability scanners are particularly useful assets to have in your cybersecurity toolkit. Patch management tools help you stay current with the latest security patches, while vulnerability scanners can help you identify common weaknesses in your networks and systems. By using these and other tools, you can more easily and efficiently protect your organization from cyber threats.

Final thoughts

The primary objective of a vulnerability management program is to minimize the risk of disruptions and impacts on business systems. In recent years, the number of reported vulnerabilities has increased, making this goal even more critical. By proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, organizations can reduce their exposure to risk and protect their systems from potential threats.

6clicks helps in automating the processes involved in vulnerability management. For more information, check out our solution page - Vulnerability Management. To summarise, the 6clicks platform provides the following:

  • Ready-to-use templates for vulnerability assessments
  • Integrations with vulnerability scanning tools
  • Dashboard to track vulnerabilities
  • Improved collaboration and communication between the stakeholders by assigning and monitoring tasks
  • Analytics and reporting suite to document and present the findings
  • Data storytelling tools to improve the understanding of threats and risks and for building a data-aware and risk-aware culture

Get in touch with us for more details on how we help businesses implement robust threat and vulnerability management programs.

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