According to one round up of cybercrime stats for 2020, phishing and cloud-based attacks are up over 600 percent. To leverage these (and other) attacks, hackers scan for any and all vulnerabilities to exploit. So, if you’re wondering how to prevent cyber attacks on businesses, a robust vulnerability management program should be one of the first places you start.
This blog will explain how companies can prevent cyber crime using vulnerability management.
Five Ways Vulnerability Management Prevents Cyber Attacks
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a vulnerability in your cybersecurity architecture is any flaw or oversight that creates a weakness that hackers can exploit. Vulnerability management is the best way to understand and mitigate all such weaknesses.
In the sections below, we’ll cover five ways to protect your company against cyber attacks using vulnerability management as it pertains to five impacts it has on your cybersecurity:
- A catalogue of risks facing your company
- A plan of action to implement immediately
- Detailed analysis and insights into vulnerabilities
- Security across all your networks and servers
- A simple and streamlined system for cybersecurity
But first, let’s cover some context, defining what it is and why every company needs it.
What is Vulnerability Management, and Why Does it Matter?
Vulnerability management is a systematic approach to identifying, analyzing, and neutralizing vulnerabilities, ideally before they turn into serious risks. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed a guide for vulnerability management to help companies implement it.
The DHS’s framework, which is based on the NIST’s overall Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), comprises four cyclical steps:
- Define vulnerability management strategy
- Create action plans for management and response
- Actively implement plan by monitoring and addressing risks
- Continuously assess and re-configure both your plan and strategy
Following these steps, or at least a similar alternative scheme, is imperative. Vulnerabilities are present in every company’s digital landscape, no matter how diligent and robust their safety precautions. You can’t eliminate them, per se, so you have to manage them as they arise.
Impact #1: A Catalogue of Existing and Potential Weaknesses
First and foremost, a vulnerability management program offers you a way to understand the vulnerabilities that exist in your system. That understanding empowers you to address them over the short and long term. It’s informed by nation-wide reports of common vulnerabilities.
To that end, two of the most important tools available are:
- National Vulnerability Database (NVD) – The NVD is the US government’s dedicated collection of all vulnerability-related data. It indexes and categorizes them by various vulnerability metrics, including but not limited to severity and ubiquity.
- Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) – SCAP is a NIST system of specifications for organizations that report on and analyze vulnerabilities, informing the NVD. Data on both existing and emerging protocols are publicly available.
By leveraging these publicly available tools, your company can locate vulnerabilities impacting your systems. Then, you can prepare for and implement mitigation and elimination strategies.
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Impact #2: An Action Plan Ready to Launch Instantaneously
Once you have a strong understanding of the potential and existing vulnerabilities affecting your cybersecurity and risk profile, you’ll be able to start addressing them systematically.
Per the DHS’s vulnerability management guide, the planning stage includes defining:
- The plan itself, relative to your overall vulnerability management goals
- How you’ll measure the efficacy of your plan, once implemented
- What training for participants and stakeholders will consist of
- Which tools you’ll use to monitor and address vulnerabilities
- What sources of information will inform your research
- Roles for (and engaging) those who’ll carry out the plan
And, per the same guide, your plan’s implementation should comprise:
- Training all participants who’ll enforce the plan
- Scanning all assets and resources for vulnerabilities
- Recording, categorizing, and prioritizing identified risks
- Addressing and managing immediate exposure and effects
- Determining effectiveness of mitigation measures in-practice
- Deeply analyzing the root causes of given risks and vulnerabilities
Importantly, certain aspects of implementation are ongoing — once begun, you’ll never stop monitoring for vulnerabilities, and training is likewise a long-term, continuous commitment.
Impact #3: Deep Insights Into Causes and Weaknesses
A third major factor of vulnerability management is the sheer depth of analysis it provides. Not only does it scan for vulnerabilities as they manifest; it also digs deeper into the reasons and conditions that allowed them to take shape. It also entails preventative, future-focused scans.
Vulnerability management comprises two incredibly powerful analytical tools:
- Root cause analysis (RCA) – RCA is typically enacted after a vulnerability or security event is immediately neutralized. A dedicated team of experts will look into how exactly it came about, what led into it, and take steps to make sure it can’t happen again.
- Penetration (pen) testing – Pen testing is a more advanced form of cybersecurity that uses strong offense to inform defense. One or more “ethical hackers” simulate an attack on your systems so you can study their methods and prepare to stop a real attack.
These and other analytical methods optimize your protection, ensuring you don’t just treat vulnerabilities and risks at a surface level. They’re essential for robust cybersecurity.
Impact #4: Security Across All Assets and Resources
Not only does vulnerability management offer depth; it also offers comprehensive breadth. The fourth impact it has on cybersecurity is its ability to cover all the components of your network.
That includes not just the devices that make up your “perimeter,” but also the various other systems and resources that are more or less disconnected from your physical office. Zero-trust and other decentralized security standards are on the rise in our increasingly distanced, work-from-home norm. According to Microsoft, perimeter-based security is already obsolete.
While your own company’s cybersecurity infrastructure may still be focused primarily on its perimeter, it is important to ensure security across your cloud services. You also need to scan for and address vulnerabilities across the “internet of things” (IoT) that make up your network.
Vulnerability management is all-encompassing and exhaustive; there’s nothing outside its reach.
Impact #5: A Simple, Streamlined, and Systematic Approach
The fifth and final impact is the compounded significance of the prior four, optimized in a single system. That unified, programmatic approach is the best way to keep cybersecurity efficient and robust — it can also be a way to save valuable resources on cyberdefense.
According to a McKinsey study on COVID-19’s impact on corporate cybersecurity, many companies’ IT and cybersecurity resources are in a bind:
- IT budgets for 2020 were generally fixed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
- COVID-19 has necessitated unforeseen expansions and other changes to IT
- Over 70 percent of CISOs anticipate smaller IT budgets but greater needs in 2021
Despite any IT austerity on the horizon, companies absolutely must prioritize vulnerability management. In light of these circumstances, outsourcing to threat and vulnerability experts is one of the best, easiest, and most affordable ways to keep your company safe.
In particular, RSI Security’s threat and vulnerability management services are your best bet.
How to Protect Your Company from Cyber Attacks
Here at RSI security, we’re committed to helping companies of all sizes shore up their vulnerability management. But that’s not all — our team of experts has over a decade of experience providing all kinds of cybersecurity solutions. Boost your security with a refresh to your overall architecture, or consider a targeted approach to third-party risk management.
While vulnerability management isn’t the only part of an effective cyberdefense, it’s one of the most important, foundational pieces thereof. No company is safe without a strong program. Want to learn more about how to prevent cyber attacks on businesses? Or see how powerful your own vulnerability management and cybersecurity can be? Contact RSI Security today!