Importance of Vulnerability Management and Why Most Companies Should Engage in Continuous Vulnerability Management
By: Angela Polania, Principal, Elevate.
You can’t sit back and assume your systems are adequately protected. The best way to guard against vulnerability, is to constantly seek it out and eradicate it. That’s the purpose of a vulnerability assessment, and there are several reasons why these tests are so important for any business to perform, they:
Identify vulnerabilities in the perimeter systems that protect your network:Periodic scanning of your network identifies vulnerabilities in the critical systems that protect against outside threats. Not only do you need to test against the latest hacker strategies, you also need to verify that everything is up to date. Vendors frequently release patches, updates and firmware upgrades specifically to remediate newly identified security vulnerabilities. A regular scan of your internal and external network systems helps to confirm that they are current for the most recent changes.
Verify that change management processes are keeping pace with security: Vulnerability scans confirm that your company’s change management processes haven’t missed any critical patches. The harder you work at modifying your system to maximize operational efficiency and ease of use, the harder it becomes to keep up with changes from your IT vendors.
Check system configuration: Vulnerability scanning can also help identify improperly configured systems that leave a network vulnerable. We all count on our IT departments to implement new systems in a secure manner. Sometimes, it helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at the system from top to bottom, to help support your team and guard against mistakes when configuring and deploying new hardware and software.
Validate the actions of third-party IT managed-service providers: Everybody wants to believe that IT managed-service providers deliver the level of support they’ve promised. How can you be sure they are maintaining your systems as agreed in your contracts? If things are going smoothly, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The problem is, if your system is vulnerable, things could run smoothly until someone finds the vulnerability and exploits it. Without testing, it could be “broke” and you just don’t know it yet. An independent assessment is often a great way to check if service levels are being achieved and systems are protected in the manner described in the contract.
Providing customers with assurance: Businesses and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of data protection. They demand a high degree of vigilance and risk awareness from their suppliers when it comes to cybersecurity. We’ve reached a point where some contracts can be won or lost based on your ability to protect customer information. Whether your business serves the consuming public or other businesses, a strong cybersecurity program that includes periodic vulnerability assessments can help you stand out from your competitors.
It is recommended that companies have a strong vulnerability management process and perform periodic testing (at least quarterly) and remediation prior to conducting a comprehensive Penetration Test. Otherwise the Penetration Test may have too many findings which come to light during the early steps of the Penetration Testing process (which is, performing a vulnerability assessment). Note that a real Penetration Test is a vulnerability assessment + concerted effort and time (e.g. dark web research, social engineering, hacking your vendors etc.) from experienced hackers to use various means to attempt to enter your network, infect it, infiltrate/exfiltrate information and/or create a denial of service (bring your systems down).
Thus, continuous vulnerability management is the best way to protect your business from the world of existing and ever developing vulnerabilities.