Vulnerability management is a crucial part of any e-commerce business. Whether you are a technical engineer, IT manager or CIO, you should be aware that basic vulnerability scans alone are not enough to secure your business. Decreasing cyberattacks and threats require a strategic, robust and holistic method of vulnerability management.
E-commerce businesses face unprecedented amount of cyberattacks and this happens more frequently. According to a Big Brother Watch study, 19.5 million attacks happen in the UK each year. That’s 37 cyberattacks within a minute. Because of this, every individual in an e-commerce business should put in mind that vulnerability management best practices are necessary to secure its networks and information.
Definition and Importance of Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management, as defined by the SANS Institute, is the “process in which vulnerabilities in IT are identified and the risks of these vulnerabilities are evaluated.” Evaluating these weaknesses leads to the elimination of risk acceptance by the management of an e-commerce business. Furthermore, vulnerability management is the process that involves vulnerability scanning, taking into consideration some aspects such as remediation, risk acceptance, among others.
Managing vulnerabilities is essential because it leads any e-commerce business to acquire a constant overview of vulnerabilities in the IT stage and the threats associated with the IT environment. By doing this approach, any business can avoid cybercriminals stealing information and penetrating networks. It should be a business effort to secure and control cybersecurity risks.
Vulnerability Management Best Practices
Vulnerability management is a method that needs to be performed constantly in order for a business to identify, evaluate, treat, and report security vulnerabilities. For a business to keep up with new systems added to networks, changes to these systems and the discovery of new types of vulnerabilities, there are practices that need to be done. These vulnerability management best practices are as follows:
1. Establish a strategy for vulnerability management
There are important reasons why businesses establish a vulnerability management strategy. The first step is to comply with standards or security frameworks, such as PCI DSS or ISO 27001. Another reason is to proactively develop and improve visibility within the IT environment. This is to make sure that a business can respond quickly to security risks as they happen.
The third reason is that adding this strategy to manage vulnerability is recommended by a security auditor. There are many acceptable reasons to develop a program and common to these reasons is the necessity to study and perform the strategy carefully. A poorly considered and thought out strategy is more likely to achieve no anticipated results.
For a vulnerability management strategy to be effective, a business should focus on these important aspects: people, process, and technology.
- People. The IT or security team of a business should have the necessary experience and skills for a strategy to work. Every member of the team should have a deep understanding of how threats and vulnerabilities affect the IT environment. They should also have highly-developed skills in diplomacy and listening. The team members should also have proven experience and capability in communicating with specific stakeholders, such as business management, users, or technical staff.
- Process. Any business can perform a vulnerability scan, but what really makes a business competent and secure is the ability to establish and develop processes that are actionable and achievable. This is especially needed when there are quick decisions to be made when remediation for discovered threats are involved.
- Technology. In this stage, a business should consider the available tools and how they are configured. These tools can be used to obtain more information, not just data on vulnerability, from the business’ IT environment. Moreover, these tools are not limited to scanning, they also involve ticketing systems and asset databases.
2. Identify and remediate vulnerabilities regularly
There’s no business that wants to find out that a vulnerability discovered many months ago are still identified currently. That’s why it is essential for a business to perform timely and regular identification and remediation of security issues. However, there is a problem with remediation and it can sometimes be overwhelming. It involves thousand-page long scan reports and this can be time-consuming. To address and simplify this issue, there are three important steps and these are as follows:
Step 1: Categorize. This step includes classifying discovered vulnerabilities into categories. This categorization allows a business to understand the issue instead of just responding to a discovered weakness.
Examples of these categories are low-risk items, false positives, outdated software, missing patches, or configuration issues. If a business finds out that a high amount of percentage falls into configuration issues, for example, future actions can be performed to configure quicker.
Step 2: Prioritize. Not all discovered security vulnerabilities are urgent. When a vulnerability scanning tool is used, it searches for everything and ends up with a report on all vulnerability issues. But a business may not be potentially vulnerable to all issues identified, that’s why the responses should be prioritized and findings should be validated. A business should base this step on the accuracy, risk of not remediating, risk of remediation, and criticality of assets and their importance to the business.
Step 3: Bite-size. After categories and priorities are established, it is effective and more manageable for the remediation process to be broken down into bite-size chunks. A business should turn the scanning report into bite-size portions by choosing what is associated with the business’ priorities, checking the tasks that are actionable and achievable, and detecting the slow burns and quick wins.
3. Utilize the right vulnerability management tools
In the marketplace, a business can avail numerous vulnerability scanning tools and they basically include some scanning engines and a console. The most important aspect of using these tools is the placement, whether a business is doing manual checks or using commercial tools. There is a placement issue if a tool leads to inaccurate results or findings. A business should ensure that its vulnerability management tool delivers all the functionality it needs.
What are the benefits of vulnerability scanning? Vulnerability scanning is beneficial because it is an organized method to test, identify, analyze and report potential risks on an information security network. It is a non-destructive testing form that delivers quick response concerning the health status of a network.
Once a business understands the importance of these scanning tools, the next step is to equip itself with the right tool. The following is the criteria a business needs when choosing a vulnerability scanning tool:
- Cutting edge technology. A vulnerability scanner should give a business a total view of its cyber resources. This can only be performed if a business utilizes cutting edge or state-of-the-art technology developed to identify even the most modern risks and attacks. One of the most popular trends today to incorporate with the vulnerability scanning tools is the Machine Learning technology, which is highly related to artificial intelligence.
- Usability, It is essential that a business’ chosen vulnerability scanning tool suits all users, whatever their knowledge on the technology is since each member should proactively participate to make sure all systems are secure. The vulnerability scanning tool must offer accessibility and must provide simple installation. It must also deliver simplicity in the panel and interface, and offer process automation where the tool must be capable of avoiding repetitive actions done by security teams.
- False-positive rates. A business should acquire information about a tool’s false positive percentage before purchasing. It may flood flawed data if the vulnerability scanning tool inaccurately reports issues that are not real or false alarms. It will result in a loss of time dedicated to more valuable security-related tasks because this problem causes the security team to perform manual checks and scanning.
- Metrics. The most crucial feature of any vulnerability scanning tool is reporting. It aids in the remediation process. That’s why it is essential to find a tool that can offer comprehensive and flexible reports that give detailed information on the identified vulnerabilities, options for custom data views, analysis of trends, proper information on the status of network security. If a business’ purchased scanning tool delivers incomplete results, the tool can’t help accomplish goals related to security.
4. Extend the application of vulnerability scanning tools
Vulnerability scanning tools are basically designed and developed to discover vulnerabilities. But these tools can be extended to provide value to other aspects and processes in a business. These include:
Infrastructure. Vulnerability scanning tools offer understandings that improve and develop validations for post-build, patches, and configurations. A business’s security team, for example, might be in charge of testing a new server’s configuration. A vulnerability scanning tool gives a report that summarizes whether the build suits the configuration, can go further into the server, check and authenticate important settings. From there, a business security team can conduct a vulnerability to check that all problems are recognized and addressed. This process offers further confidence that the new server is safe to use and secure.
Application management. When it comes to post-implementation and pre-release testing, vulnerability scanning should be an essential part of the lifecycle of software development. Doing vulnerability scans offers visibility of issues and problems in a business’ applications and ensure that these vulnerabilities can be responded to immediately. For example, if the tool scans a piece of code it can be scanned at these specific points: during development, in user acceptance testing, before it reaches the production stage, and after reaching the production stage.
- Day-to-day IT management. Vulnerability scanning tools have access to a business’ whole IT environment; therefore, they can also be essential to the following aspects:
- Feeding data into other tools for deeper intelligence. Doing so makes your data scans work harder. For example, a business’ intrusion detection system will be more developed and prepared to resolve issues if it has information that some machines are vulnerable to certain risks and attacks.
- Recognizing rogue devices. Vulnerability scanning engines can identify rogue devices on a network by accessing and taking out all assets with an IP address. These rouge devices may not be on a business’ asset list.
- Reviewing local groups and users. Vulnerability scanning tools may identify and recognize certain creation of new local groups or users. This may be an indication of a potential security risk.
- Certificate management. The vulnerability scanning tools identify all sorts of certificates utilized in any business. Scans reveal installed certificates, whether they are purchased or self-signed, and their expiry dates. These tools provide a business ample time to replace certificates because they provide expiration warnings.
Vulnerability Management Lifecycle
Vulnerability management is a continuous process. This is best illustrated in the following stages within a vulnerability management lifecycle and this framework is also one of vulnerability management best practices to be done for a business. There are six steps in this lifecycle which include discovering, prioritizing, assessing, reporting, remediating, and verifying vulnerabilities.
In the discovery process, appropriate discovery methods using automated tools should be done to allow the accurate inventory of connected devices and each of their functions. Prioritizing vulnerabilities revolves around categorizing assets into groups and giving value based on how critical these assets are to a business. The assessment stage involves evaluating a business’ and its customers’ capability and willingness to accept and take threats based on the criticality of the assets.
Furthermore, reporting vulnerabilities encompasses measuring the level of threats associated with the business and its customers’ assets in accordance with its security policies. The remediation process revolves around fixing and prioritizing vulnerabilities according to the assigned or current threat. Lastly, verifying vulnerabilities includes making sure that risks and attacks are reduced or removed.
Following these vulnerability management best practices with the right partner is one of the most effective ways to protect and make a business safe and secure from cybersecurity attacks. A business will have the best odds of keeping its information as wells as its customers’ assets and networks sheltered and protected. These practices are also basic building blocks of every security program or strategy. These enable a business to alleviate threats and risks and have greater confidence in its integrity and security of its data. Get started with RSI Security today.