What is Vulnerability Management?

Dec 07, 2022
Team Brinqa

What is Vulnerability Management?

It should come as no surprise that the increase in cyberattacks reflects the ever-expanding number of connected devices. In 2021 the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices alone grew to 12.3 billion. As attack surfaces expand, it’s essential to know the gaps in your security posture and protect them. That’s why enterprise vulnerability management is a critical security control.

The challenge is how to filter ever-larger amounts of vulnerability data streaming in from a growing number of attack surfaces and find which vulnerabilities pose the most risk to your business. For example, a threat coming from a customer-facing server is likely more crucial than a vulnerability in an internal sandbox no one outside the organization sees. 

Risk analytics permits the evaluation of all risks according to their sources. Because every environment has different risks and risk tolerance, filtering the essential data and adding context, such as business goals, is how Brinqa delivers the better insight into cybersecurity that businesses demand.

Let’s define vulnerability management 

Vulnerability management (VM) is the ongoing, cyclical process of identifying, classifying, reporting, prioritizing and remediating vulnerabilities in an organization’s IT infrastructure and assets. The primary goal is to actively address vulnerabilities in your environment before malicious actors can use them to launch a cyberattack.

Why is vulnerability management required?

Data pours into your network from many different sources and formats. Estimates by Forbes and Gartner indicate that 80% of enterprise data is unstructured.

As more data enters your systems, it brings more vulnerabilities. New vulnerabilities appear daily in applications, operating systems, and hardware.

Examining your network and data with the many available assessment tools – application scanners, database scanners, network scanners, and penetration testing applications – is time-consuming. Prioritizing remediation is difficult when you have so much information to consider.

Adding to your time management difficulties is that different vulnerabilities require different mitigation approaches. For example, patch management, defined as closing network software vulnerabilities by applying patches, is just one component of vulnerability risk management.

Vulnerabilities lead to exploits and threats

Exploits are how malicious actors leverage vulnerabilities to launch an attack. An exploit can be a piece of purpose-built software, a sequence of commands, network worms, or toolkits.

Attacker economies of scale have played a significant role in allowing the leveraging of vulnerabilities into successful exploits. Greater coordination and sharing of information within the hacker community have increased the number of attacks on enterprises. Zero-day vulnerabilities are particularly susceptible to exploits.

Threats are an actual or hypothetical malicious event that leverages one or more exploits to launch an attack. Threats seek to adversely impact organizational operations, assets and individuals and represent the strategy employed to compromise or gain unauthorized access to the organization successfully. Malware, social engineering, ransomware, phishing and trojans are typical threats. 

An easy way to map ALL your threat and enterprise vulnerability management data to a single, consistent model

From its position atop your networks, all data arriving from external sensors and systems into Brinqa is automatically mapped, correlated and brought into a single entity that simplifies vulnerability management.

Complementing the Brinqa platform are hosts, relationships, databases, threat intelligence, and patch intelligence. Asset context, also known as asset metadata, helps categorize assets as the amount of digital information grows. Specific business context ensures it is relevant to your organization and complies with regulations. Having processed that information, Brinqa models it and automates ticketing for remediation.

Why vulnerability risk management improves VM

Vulnerability risk management, sometimes known as risk-based vulnerability management, is a strategy cybersecurity professionals use to prioritize remediating software vulnerabilities according to the level of risk each poses.

Using risk as the guide, you analyze and rate or assign a score to the various vulnerabilities you’ve discovered.

Instead of the potentially harsh consequences of an exploited vulnerability, the risk-based strategy assesses the chances of that vulnerability being exploited. 

Components of vulnerability risk management

Vulnerability risk management has three components:

  • Threat intelligence identifies the vulnerabilities attackers are discussing, experimenting with, or using. Then it performs risk evaluation and assigns risk scores according to the likelihood of exploitation.
  • The business context of multiple assets, because intruding into specific network segments can cause destructive harm.
  • Combinations of risk assessment and asset criticality, concentrating efforts on vulnerabilities that affect the most critical systems and those most likely to be exploited.

Steps to a vulnerability management process

Each new vulnerability poses risks to an organization and increases the size of its attack surface. That’s why it’s critical to continually identify and address vulnerabilities quickly by applying a defined routine. Here are some of the main vulnerability management processes, along with subprocesses and tasks: 

  • Discover – Since you can’t protect what you don’t know about, take inventory of all assets. Identify operating systems, services, applications and configurations that might be subject to any vulnerability. Automate regularly scheduled discovery.
  • Prioritize – Categorize the assets you’ve discovered into groups. Then prioritize each group’s risk according to how critical each asset is to your organization.
  • RemediateResolve vulnerabilities by following your established risk priorities. Record and document the progress of the remediation process. 
  • Verify – Run additional vulnerability scans. You’ll soon know if you’ve found and fixed them all. That’s when an automated vulnerability analysis platform like Brinqa can substantially ease your workload.  
  • Report – A report comparing the most recent scan with the previous one lets IT know which vulnerabilities were identified and remediated and summarizes the current state of vulnerabilities.

The C-suite needs a simple report with a high-level presentation of risk scores across the enterprise, which the Brinqa Cyber Risk Graph provides.

Good VM counts every process and subprocess as a continual lifecycle intended to reduce risks to a network and improve data security. Processes that run daily offer more robust protection than those performed quarterly or annually.

The Brinqa vulnerability management process

Other vulnerability management vendors analyze only the data they gather, whereas Brinqa analyzes ALL incoming information and adds additional business context.

Once Brinqa is completely set up, your vulnerability risk management challenges are automated. Log into Brinqa and see a list of vulnerabilities sorted by risk scores. The assessment and analysis logic is already included. You can begin remediating the most critical vulnerabilities: no more inefficient and ineffective ad hoc, case-by-case, manual decisions about what to fix first.   

Unique among vulnerability risk management vendors, only Brinqa automatically:

  • Pulls data from all sources
  • Adds business and threat context
  • Prioritizes the most crucial vulnerabilities
  • Creates tickets and tasks for remediation

And provides:  

  • Advanced risk analysis
  • Complete visibility into all of your data
  • Automated vulnerability management
  • Room for additional data whenever you deem necessary

Brinqa delivers effective, consistent and reliable results by automating your vulnerability remediation and cyber-risk response processes.

Automate your vulnerability risk management with Brinqa – See for yourself with a demo. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is unstructured data?

Unstructured data is information stored in different forms that don’t follow conventional data models and is, therefore, difficult to store and manage in a mainstream relational database.

How do structured and unstructured data differ?

Structured data is formatted to ensure consistency in processing and analyzing. Unstructured data can be stored in non-uniform formats. The main differences between structured and unstructured data include the type of analysis it can be used for, how it’s formatted, how it’s stored, and the schema used.

What is inherent risk vs. residual risk?

Inherent risk is the current risk level, considering the existing set of controls. 

Residual risk refers to the remaining risk level after applying additional controls.

How can an attacker execute malware through a script?

Criminals use a script-based malware attack to execute malicious attacks on a network without accessing anything on the hard drive. Security programs cannot detect the attack without changes written to a hard drive.

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