Every day, malicious agents are looking to attack businesses and companies and take advantage of the vulnerabilities existing in data and network systems. To combat this, businesses need to upgrade and monitor their systems consistently.
However, with the constant improvements and updates in product and system versions, there is little to upgrade, update, and secure company systems. This benefits hackers as they find it easier to access company files and networks through vulnerabilities that remain because software isn’t updated.
According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation 2022 report, hackers exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities after breaches increased by 7%. This is twice the rate of the number of exploitations compared to the previous year. While many organizations are slowly responding to this threat, many others do not understand the enormity of the consequences of this action and are not working toward it appropriately. This is a recipe for disaster, and many companies are not even aware yet.
So, what is the best way to properly tackle this problem? It is by creating a vulnerability management program. Read on to learn about mapping a strong vulnerability management program or process.
Defining Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management refers to the strategy that businesses use to monitor, curtail, and eliminate vulnerabilities in their networks and systems. As a process, it entails detecting and categorizing vulnerabilities so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect the business from all attacks.
Typically, vulnerability management processes utilize systems such as vulnerability databases, vulnerability testing (automated and/or manual), vulnerability scanners, and many other tools. The amalgamation of these processes, resources, and tools assists IT professionals and teams in ensuring that all threats are handled and addressed according to priority.
Steps To Mapping a Strong Vulnerability Process
Whether a business or organization decides to develop its in-house vulnerability management program/process or outsource the work to a service provider, there is a common denominator. The patch management team must work very closely with the vulnerability management team. This is to help each member and team properly define the process that deals with applying the necessary patches in the most secure way possible.
To build a highly effective vulnerability management program, here are seven essential steps to consider:
Create an Inventory
Identifying the type of devices and technologies that can impact or influence your organization and where they are located is essential. It is crucial you create a repository for laptops, servers, workstations, and other network assets for the company.
Below are some sample questions to help guide you during inventory-taking:
- Where is the company’s data virtually and physically located?
- How many mobile devices access company networks?
- What kind of systems and devices does the company utilize for operations?
These questions are examples of how to map and document potential vulnerabilities and they will help in creating and listing potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Having a well-detailed view of potential vulnerabilities by detecting and classifying can be done by scanning the network. The results of the scan can be delivered regularly, as determined by the needs of the client.
This would make it easier to classify the risks according to the level of vulnerability and importance of company assets. After this, one can then choose the actions to take according to severity levels once more.
This step is one of the most efficient ways to manage vulnerabilities, not just because it helps for easy risk factor prioritization but also proffers much-needed metrics in the long term for better insights. Which business does not want better insights?
Possessing a collection or list and analysis of what should be fixed and the importance of instant repair, backlogs, and actions against future risks is necessary to outline a solid line of action that will be as precise as possible.
The patch management team must research all patch dependencies properly and ensure patch verifications. Lastly, an impact analysis displaying an order of preference for production will be produced.
Now armed with impact analysis and research, tests can start on non-production systems. Then, observation, reports, and review of the testing follow.
Then, obtain approval for production rollout by key stakeholders. Once the review of the first test is completed, the teams in charge of rolling out the patch updates should be made aware of the patching requirements. Documenting the risk and backout plan after this is essential.
Next is the remediation or repair process. The timing for the patching deployment with tools is chosen. After this, a notification is sent to inform users of service disruption to allay fears and manage dissatisfaction.
Reporting and Documentation
This final step is essential mainly due to future actions and plans. When the process is completed, teams should assess the results, endorse compensating controls, and submit action reports with practical and valuable metrics. This will induce accountability.
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