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The risk based vulnerability management approach

Dr. Heather Buker Jan 01, 2023

What is risk based vulnerability management?

Risk-based vulnerability management is an approach to identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in a system or network based on the level of risk they pose to the organization. It involves analyzing the potential impact of a vulnerability on the organization and the likelihood of it being exploited.

In risk-based vulnerability management, vulnerabilities are ranked according to their level of risk, and resources are then prioritized to address the most significant vulnerabilities first. This approach allows organizations to focus their efforts on the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest threat to their systems and data, rather than trying to address all vulnerabilities equally.

To determine the risk level of a vulnerability, organizations typically consider factors such as the severity of the vulnerability, the likelihood of it being exploited, and the potential impact on the organization if it is exploited. This information is used to create a risk profile for each vulnerability, which can then be used to prioritize the allocation of resources and determine the most appropriate response.

Risk-based vulnerability management is an effective approach to managing cybersecurity risks because it allows organizations to focus their efforts on the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest threat, rather than trying to address all vulnerabilities equally. By prioritizing their efforts in this way, organizations can better protect their systems and data and reduce the risk of a successful cyber attack.

What are the key strategies in risk-based vulnerability management?

There are several key strategies that organizations can use as part of a risk-based vulnerability management approach:

  1. Identify vulnerabilities: The first step in risk-based vulnerability management is to identify vulnerabilities in the organization's systems and networks. This can be done through a variety of methods, including vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and manual testing.
  2. Assess risk: Once vulnerabilities have been identified, the next step is to assess the risk they pose to the organization. This involves evaluating the severity of the vulnerability, the likelihood of it being exploited, and the potential impact on the organization if it is exploited.
  3. Prioritize vulnerabilities: Based on the risk assessment, vulnerabilities should be prioritized according to their level of risk. This allows organizations to focus their efforts on the most significant vulnerabilities first.
  4. Implement controls: Once vulnerabilities have been prioritized, organizations can implement controls to mitigate the risk they pose. This may involve patching or updating systems, implementing security controls, or providing employee training.
  5. Monitor and review: It is important to regularly monitor and review the effectiveness of the risk-based vulnerability management process to ensure that vulnerabilities are being effectively managed. This may involve conducting regular vulnerability assessments and implementing new controls as needed.

By following these strategies, organizations can effectively manage the risks posed by vulnerabilities in their systems and networks.

What are the best practices in risk based vulnerability management?

The traditional approach of simply scanning for vulnerabilities or using a single tool to address the current threat is no longer effective in today's digital landscape. This is because mobile and IoT devices, public cloud resources, software-as-a-service applications, and industrial control systems may not be detected by these security tools. 

As a result, it is important to adopt a more comprehensive and adaptable approach to securing these assets. Below are some of the best practices for vulnerability management.

  1. Improve your network visibility - Without visibility into all endpoints and traffic on the company network, including those in the public cloud, it is difficult to identify and address security blind spots. Network visibility is essential to ensure that an organization can effectively secure its digital assets and identify potential vulnerabilities.

  2. Know your assets - In the digital age, it is essential for organizations to have a complete understanding of all their digital assets and the risks associated with them. This requires full visibility into all assets and an awareness of the current cybersecurity threats facing the organization. Without this knowledge, it is difficult for an organization to effectively protect itself from potential attacks.

  3. Be proactive - An effective vulnerability management program should be proactive, rather than reactive, in order to effectively secure an organization's network, data, devices, and users. This means that the program should actively scan, monitor, and adapt to the changing threat landscape, rather than simply reacting to individual vulnerabilities as they are discovered. By covering the entire ecosystem, a proactive vulnerability management program can help ensure that an organization is prepared to defend against potential attacks.

  4. Scan, monitor, and evolve - An effective vulnerability management program should continually scan, monitor, and adapt to a wide range of attack vectors in order to stay ahead of potential threats. This requires an ongoing process of monitoring and analyzing the changing threat landscape, and updating the organization's defences accordingly. By continually scanning, monitoring, and evolving, a vulnerability management program can help ensure that an organization is prepared to defend against the latest threats and vulnerabilities.

  5. Understand and prioritize risks - A key function of vulnerability management is to help organizations understand and prioritize the risks to their networks, devices, users, and assets. By identifying and analyzing these risks, organizations can focus their efforts on the most important issues and take steps to mitigate or eliminate the greatest threats. This allows organizations to allocate their resources more effectively and ensure that they are prepared to defend against the most significant vulnerabilities and threats.

Final thoughts

Risk based vulnerability management is transforming the way large organizations approach vulnerability management. Rather than attempting to address every vulnerability, a risk-based system focuses on the vulnerabilities that are most likely to be exploited, improving efficiency and reducing risk posture. 

While this approach may result in some vulnerabilities remaining unpatched, it allows organizations to make informed decisions about which vulnerabilities pose an acceptable level of risk to the overall security of the company. 

By prioritizing the most important vulnerabilities, organizations can gain efficiency gains and minimize the risk of IT outages due to excessive change, while still effectively managing their security risk. Overall, risk-based vulnerability management is a beneficial strategy that can provide both IT and security benefits.

At 6clicks we provide complete support for risk-based vulnerability management through ready-to-use questionnaires, automated assessments, and a dashboard to help you easily monitor all activities and generate reports. For more information, head to our solutions page - Vulnerability Management

6clicks uses automation and AI to build a platform that simplifies risk management and compliance for organisations. To know more about our platform, click on the link below to book a demo with us.  

 

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