4 min read  | Cyber safety

Core elements of a successful vulnerability management strategy

A robust vulnerability management strategy allows a business to identify potential security gaps in their cybersecurity systems, including access points hackers can use to gain entry into their networks. Having an effective vulnerability management system, therefore, is an essential component of a solid security foundation.

Due to their complexity, however, most organisations encounter challenges in building a robust and holistic vulnerability management strategy. As a result, these entities tend to come up against increasingly sophisticated, and more frequent, cyberattacks.

The secret to developing a successful vulnerability management strategy is in ensuring the inclusion of certain core elements that are vital to any security programme. In our post, we outline what these elements are.

Asset discovery

One of the most common challenges related to a vulnerability management strategy lies in asset discovery. This is because most organisations aren’t comprehensive enough when it comes to asset discovery

This element of your security strategy must include certain processes like:

  • Scanning dynamic endpoints and BYODs
  • Scanning cloud assets
  • Agentless scanning/agent-based scanning
  • Scheduling regular scans

Asset discovery is designed to discover, classify, and document assets; without a proper inventory, it would be nearly impossible to know what you need to scan and assess.

If your vulnerability management strategy doesn’t cover all assets and all business areas within your organisation, it isn’t at peak effectiveness. It’s impossible to mitigate risks that you don’t know exist. 

Risk and patch management

An organisation must have a risk management process in place to correlate vulnerabilities discovered during scanning, and a patch management process to address identified vulnerabilities that require security patches.

Risk and patch management is the process of testing and applying patches to all affected areas within a network in an efficient and timely manner. As a result of proper risk and patch management, organisations are in a position to:

  • Prioritise risks and vulnerabilities
  • Apply required security patches
  • Prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited before a patch has been released
  • Manage exceptions
  • Remediate, avoid, transfer and/or accept the risk

Penetration testing

Penetration testing is another important component of the vulnerability management strategy (and a process that needs to be undertaken at least once a year). It is designed to exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities within an organisation and requires both automated and manual testing.

In this process, integrate physical testing and social engineering into your penetration testing. You can choose from several areas of penetration testing, which includes:

  • Internal network penetration testing
  • External network penetration testing
  • Web application penetration testing
  • Mobile application penetration testing 
  • Wireless network penetration testing

Depending on your organisation's requirements, you can include some or all of these areas of penetration testing into your vulnerability management strategy.

Tracking, metrics and reporting

The key to demonstrating the value and effectiveness of a vulnerability management strategy to executive management is by tracking metrics and reporting. 

Here, it’s important that tracking metrics and the reporting of vulnerabilities are risk-based, rather than just comparing the number of vulnerabilities over a certain period. Tracking and reporting also support remediation to ensure that identified vulnerabilities don’t fall through the cracks and leave your organisation exposed. 

Without remediation, your networks and systems can be penetrated easily via mainstream vulnerabilities. That is why this element of your strategy is one of the most important.

Implement an effective vulnerability management strategy for greater cybersecurity 

How you assess your environment for vulnerabilities is important if you want to reduce your risks effectively. 

Even if you have a relatively mature vulnerability management strategy in place, it’s never a bad idea to revisit your strategy and make sure that you’re doing all you can to improve your business’ security posture. 

A fully-fledged vulnerability management programme, however, is much more than scanning and patching your systems. It must also improve regulatory compliance standards such as the PCI DSS and GDPR, and identify the core outcomes the strategy is meant to achieve.

For support and guidance on how to implement a proactive and well-thought-out vulnerability management strategy, get in touch with our team at Triskele Labs today.