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What is unified vulnerability management?

Vulnerability management is about more than just finding weak spots and rectifying them. It is about prioritizing the most critical ones and swiftly fixing them to avert potential crises. The reason? Ignoring potential threats in your IT environment leads to dire consequences, from devastating cyberattacks to severe operational disruptions. 

You need a comprehensive and strategic approach to protect your organization against potential risks and vulnerabilities. That’s where unified vulnerability management (UVM) comes into play. UVM isn’t just about patching up security holes; it’s a holistic strategy that integrates risk assessment, prioritization and remediation across your entire IT landscape.

Understanding unified vulnerability management

Unified vulnerability management (UVM) is a streamlined approach to cybersecurity, bringing together all the information about possible security gaps in an organization’s network, software and systems. 

With a UVM platform, you manage assets and vulnerabilities across varied security tools, programs and environments.

Importance of end-to-end vulnerability management

Your vulnerability management solution should ensure no weak link remains in your IT chain, which is why securing every aspect of your network, from initial detection to final resolution, is critical. 

End-to-end vulnerability management enables:

  • Simplifying security through centralized management: With UVM, companies monitor their entire security status from one centralized platform, making it easier to determine which security vulnerabilities need attention first and how to fix them quickly. It is about leveraging existing tools to create a unified inventory of assets and security findings, which is key to understanding and mitigating risks promptly​​.
  • Turning data into focused action: By transforming raw data such as CVSS scores into actionable risk scores and streamlining remediation processes, a UVM system helps organizations focus on critical issues, such as prioritizing findings across the attack surface and applications.
  • Improved security and decision-making: With the right UVM strategy, organizations improve their security posture, producing dashboards and reports that reflect business priorities, thus enabling more informed decision-making.
  • Prioritizing threats with risk-based insights: UVM goes beyond mere threat identification. It incorporates risk-based prioritization that considers factors such as asset criticality and exploitability, ensuring that the most dangerous vulnerabilities are addressed first.

Download our report to learn how Nestlé, Warner Media and Cambia Health use Brinqa for risk-based vulnerability management.

Key components of a unified vulnerability management program

A unified vulnerability management program integrates multiple facets of cybersecurity to create a robust defense mechanism. Let’s break down its six key components:

1. Asset discovery and inventory

The first step in managing vulnerabilities is knowing what needs to be protected. Effective asset discovery and inventory involve automating asset data collection to create a comprehensive, up-to-date catalog of all hardware, software and associated business functions. By centralizing this information, organizations more easily identify critical assets, which informs the prioritization of security efforts.

2. Continuous vulnerability ingestion

In UVM, the focus shifts from mere vulnerability assessment to a more dynamic process of continuous vulnerability ingestion. This approach is about consistently pulling in data on vulnerabilities from various tools to maintain an up-to-date security posture. Such an integrated and ongoing process ensures a proactive defense mechanism, allowing for swift identification and mitigation of potential security threats.

3. Threat intelligence integration

The integration of threat intelligence means going beyond the surface level of vulnerabilities to understand the context — how, when and by whom a vulnerability may be exploited. This approach requires correlating real-time threat data with existing vulnerabilities within an organization’s environment. By doing so, organizations anticipate and prepare for targeted attacks, making their responses more strategic and effective.

4. Risk evaluation and prioritization

Risk evaluation translates technical vulnerabilities into business risks. This is done by assigning a risk score that considers the potential impact on the business, the likelihood of exploitation and the effectiveness of existing controls. Prioritization ensures that you allocate resources efficiently and focus on the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest threat to the most critical assets.

5. Automated remediation

Once risks are identified and prioritized, they must be addressed. Automated remediation is more than just applying patches — it’s about managing the entire lifecycle of resolving vulnerabilities, including assigning responsibility, tracking progress and verifying that risks are mitigated.

With unified vulnerability management, you automate ticket creation and notifications, fix validations, exception handling and SLA enforcement, enabling a precise, risk-based approach to managing and mitigating vulnerabilities effectively.

6. Compliance management

IBM reports that organizations exhibiting high noncompliance incur an average cost of $5.05 million annually. The goal is to ensure that their security practices align with their internal and industry standards and regulations, which is critical for maintaining customer trust and avoiding legal penalties. 

Compliance management involves continuously monitoring and adjusting security controls to meet these requirements, which vary across different industries and regions.

UVMHow it's doneWhy it matters
Asset discovery and inventoryAutomate data collection, centralize asset detailsEnsures all assets are accounted for protection
Continuous vulnerability ingestionMonitor assets and systems in real-timeIdentifies potential issues with internal standards and new risks quickly to prevent exploits
Threat intelligence integrationCorrelate threat data with internal vulnerabilitiesPrepares for targeted attacks with strategic responses
Risk evaluation and prioritizationAssign risk scores considering the impact and likelihoodAllocates resources to the most critical vulnerabilities
Automated remediationManage the lifecycle of vulnerability resolution, apply patchesMitigates risks effectively and minimizes attack windows
Compliance managementMonitor and adjust controls to meet internal standards and industry regulationsMaintains customer trust and avoids legal penalties

Learn how a Fortune 500 company reduced high-risk vulnerabilities by 80% with Brinqa’s platform.

Challenges of traditional vulnerability management

Traditional vulnerability management often stumbles over the following hurdles:

  • An overwhelming number of vulnerabilities: With new threats emerging almost daily, traditional methods strain to keep pace​​.
  • Siloed approaches to threat detection: Different tools and methods lead to fragmented views, making it difficult to track and remediate threats effectively​​.
  • Incomplete asset inventory: A comprehensive and updated inventory is crucial to capture a full picture of your IT environment. Many organizations, however, still rely on manual and outdated inventory methods, which ​​often lead to inaccuracies and errors.
  • Inaccurate and inefficient prioritization: Without risk-based prioritization, teams waste resources on less critical vulnerabilities, leaving more severe ones unaddressed​​.
  • Snapshot-based vulnerability management: Continuously monitoring your security posture emphasizes ongoing and continuous updates — in contrast to exports or snapshots which are insecure and become stale.
  • Inefficient reporting: Manual reports slow down the vulnerability management process and impede effective communication​​.

Why you need a unified approach to vulnerability management

Let’s go over the top benefits of a unified approach to vulnerability management.

BenefitHow UVM enables it
Strengthened security postureA unified platform leverages a cyber risk graph to list assets and vulnerabilities and add critical business context. This approach means security isn't just about countering threats but doing so in a way that aligns with business priorities and the context of the attack surface.
Reduced complexity and costsUsing dashboards and risk visualization reports improves understanding risks. This approach translates directly into cost savings, as less time and fewer resources are needed to comprehend and communicate risk.
Increased compliance with regulatory standardsBy incorporating risk-based prioritization, a unified approach can tailor vulnerability scores to reflect each business's specific risks, enhancing compliance. Risk scoring provides specific metrics and a better understanding of compliance for each unique organization.
Contextual risk evaluation and prioritizationUVM platforms prioritize vulnerabilities based on real-world context, allowing organizations to focus on what's most critical rather than getting lost in a sea of potential threats that may not all carry the same weight.
Automated response and remediationReduced ticket volume and the intelligent grouping of related vulnerabilities enable more focused and effective remediation. By accelerating response to high-risk findings, you reduce the time your business is exposed to consequences.
Cyber risk lifecycle automationFull automation from the initial data collection to the creation of remediation reports allows organizations to create a cyber risk management process that is efficient and aligned with business needs.

Watch our webinar featuring Forrester to see the business value and benefits of vulnerability and asset management.

Brinqa’s unified approach to vulnerability management

The Brinqa platform‘s approach to unified vulnerability management is about transforming how organizations secure their digital assets. We automate the cyber risk lifecycle across key pillars — infrastructure, application and cloud security — to help you proactively identify, prioritize and address vulnerabilities with precision.  

Interested in UVM? Take the concepts discussed in this guide one step further by building a risk operations center (ROC) to be the heart of your proactive security program.

Discover firsthand how Brinqa precisely helps you reduce the risks that matter. Book a demo.

Proactively Protect Your Enterprise

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