Risk Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) have become widespread across IT environments, while security teams possess limited resources. Vulnerability scanners alone are no longer enough to protect assets.
IT professionals need to prioritize and remediate vulnerabilities based on the risks they pose, which RBVM solutions help them do. This means avoiding alert fatigue while spending more time addressing vulnerabilities that matter the most.
What is risk based vulnerability management?
The cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly shifting, making the task of identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities challenging. Luckily, technology vendors are helping solve this problem with new tools to assess and remediate vulnerabilities.
Traditional vulnerability management (VM) centers around counting flaws in software, misconfigurations and code bugs to reduce attack risks, but more sophisticated tools have recently emerged that prioritize vulnerabilities with business context and insight into how attackers might exploit them.
Risk-based vulnerability management solutions go beyond the CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) model by including intelligence, vulnerability assessment and asset criticality into vulnerability scanning and scoring. As a result, better threat visibility is achieved, reducing security team time spent sorting through floods of alerts to identify patching activities; they also optimize IT resources by prioritizing threats posing the greatest risk to an organization’s digital infrastructure – truly measuring success in vulnerability management! Many organizations have taken to adopting risk-based VM solutions over CVSS model- CM.
Risk-based vulnerability management
Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) is a cybersecurity strategy designed to help organizations reduce risks through the strategic prioritization of vulnerabilities. Automated tools assess existing vulnerabilities and evaluate them according to threat potential; their ultimate aim being identifying and mitigating any critical vulnerabilities first.
Security and IT teams require more than a list of vulnerabilities discovered to effectively manage risks. A traditional approach to vulnerability management prioritizes vulnerabilities based on CVSS score; however, this doesn’t take into account factors like severity level of attack, speed of exploitation and other aspects that can impede an organization’s defenses against cyberattack.
A centralized risk assessment process offers a more in-depth and contextual view of vulnerabilities within an environment, helping IT teams streamline resources by targeting critical issues and eliminating time-consuming tasks. Furthermore, quality vulnerability intelligence enriches every other branch of a threat-sharing program; helping departments and teams focus on what matters.
Cyber Risk Vs Vulnerabilities
IT teams must remain aware of the rapidly-evolving cyber threat landscape, in order to stay current and ensure proper cybersecurity measures. They should understand the difference between threat and vulnerability.
Vulnerabilities in systems design allow attackers to gain entry and gain access to sensitive information or assets, increasing their damage potential and chaining together multiple threats – one SQL Injection vulnerability could result in full control of your data or breach.
Risk-based vulnerability management differs from legacy vulnerability management by considering more than just vulnerabilities (CVSS scores) when prioritizing vulnerabilities for immediate attention. By taking into account asset criticality and threat context, risk-based vulnerability management helps identify those vulnerabilities which need urgent care.
Risk-based vulnerability remediation enables organizations to prioritize the most severe vulnerabilities based on their likelihood of exploitation and business impact, measured objectively through asset classification, threat intelligence and business context. This allows you to avoid spending time and resources fixing vulnerabilities that don’t pose an immediate threat.
Benefits of risk-based vulnerability management
Prioritization of vulnerabilities within a risk-based framework ensures your team focuses on those vulnerabilities posing the highest risks to your business, enabling IT and security teams to remediate critical vulnerabilities first, thus decreasing mean time to remediation (MTTR) while increasing effectiveness of your vulnerability management program.
As budgets and resources remain scarce, making the best use of cybersecurity resources is of utmost importance. A risk-based approach allows organizations to prioritize remediation efforts to minimize cybersecurity risks, enhance efficiency of IT teams, and align vulnerability management strategies with overall business goals.
As threat actors increasingly exploit vulnerabilities to gain entry to an organization’s systems, it’s critical that IT teams take a strategic approach to vulnerability management. While CVSS scores may provide some context and prioritization options for vulnerabilities, they don’t take account of how attackers could potentially exploit vulnerabilities. By adopting a risk-based approach you can prioritize vulnerabilities based on potential business impacts as well as likelihood of attack by malicious actors.
1. Improved accuracy
Find and prioritize vulnerabilities according to their actual risk for the organization. Expand beyond CVSS scores of individual flaws to examine which assets they affect, how vulnerable they are and overall exposure – including misconfigurations, third-party software risks and active ports. Keep abreast of emerging threats through a security news feed which updates you constantly about what attackers are discussing, trying out or exploiting.
Maintain the quality of vulnerability intelligence through continuous correlation and analysis. A single platform continuously correlates vulnerability data, manual pen tests, research findings, threat actor activity, business asset criticality and other contextual factors to measure risk and prioritize remediation efforts.
Turn a list of vulnerabilities into actionable reports that enable security teams to better allocate limited resources and focus on those that pose the highest risks, thus creating an efficient vulnerability management program that reduces cybersecurity risk while increasing return on security investment.
2. Broader visibility
New vulnerabilities are being discovered and disclosed at an exponentially faster pace, leaving IT teams with limited time and resources to remediate all of them. By adopting risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) solutions, teams can focus their time and energy on those vulnerabilities which pose the greatest threat quickly closing important security gaps more effectively.
Prioritizing vulnerabilities requires taking several factors into account, including how likely it is that bad actors will exploit a vulnerability and its effect on an organization. To achieve this objective, an intelligent risk scoring approach combining Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores, asset criticality ratings, reachability considerations, exploitability considerations, runtime context considerations and more may be applied in order to develop prioritization models for vulnerabilities.
An effective RBVM solution must provide full visibility over all assets within an environment, including both managed and unmanaged devices, software applications, users, data, as well as deep assessment capabilities to support complex multi-cloud environments. Visibility also reduces false positives while helping teams focus only on fixing vulnerabilities on assets that need protecting; additionally enabling IT teams to consider other business contexts like staff availability or customer demand more easily.
3. Continuous protection
While traditional vulnerability management tools provide snapshots that may become outdated by the time they’re examined, advanced solutions utilize continuous data protection as a form of backup that records any changes made to data in a journal file – in case any corruption arises in original data this can help restore an earlier version of it from within its journal file.
IT teams can now dedicate more of their time to remediating only the most critical vulnerabilities, rather than spending their efforts patching all possible security holes simultaneously. This approach results in significant efficiency gains as IT teams can quickly address those most dangerous security holes faster.
Risk-based vulnerability management refers to using information such as threat intelligence feeds, public risk factors, exploit activity and asset inventory to prioritize vulnerabilities. Since threats and vulnerabilities do not have equal severity or exploitability, risk factors like asset criticality, probability of exploitation and business impact are essential in understanding vulnerability severity – information which organizations can use to refine their vulnerability management programs as part of cybersecurity initiatives.
4. Efficiency gains
As organizations seek to address a global cybersecurity talent deficit, it is imperative that they prioritize spending their limited time, budgets, and personnel resources on vulnerabilities that pose the highest risks. Effective vulnerability management must provide more efficient results rather than producing long lists without meaningful context.
Prioritize vulnerabilities with high risk scores identified by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to reduce the probability of successful attacks. Consider other factors, such as impact to business critical systems when making this decision.
Risk-based approaches allow organizations to rapidly identify, detect and prioritize threats across all aspects of their operational environment –including mobile, IoT devices, public cloud resources, software-as-a-service applications and industrial control systems.
Your team’s ability to automatically assign tickets for vulnerabilities quickly and automatically can reduce the time-consuming manual tasks they must complete, improving remediation efforts while mitigating threats against your organization and saving resources by prioritizing high-risk vulnerabilities with clear action plans.
How to Prioritize Cybersecurity Risks?
Establishing the level of risk within your organization involves analyzing threats, vulnerabilities and controls before estimating how likely they are to collide and what their possible effects would be if this should occur.
Enterprises cannot take preventive steps for every risk they encounter; therefore, it’s crucial that they prioritize those that matter most. Methods such as FAIR model can assist enterprises by helping them evaluate each threat’s probability and potential impact.
1. How probable is the risk?
An attack against your business could have catastrophic repercussions, from data loss and reputational harm to system downtime and financial losses. Therefore, prioritization requires taking into account vulnerabilities’ likelihood of being exploited as key elements for decision making.
Exploitation can depend on many factors, including the sophistication and motivation of attackers as well as the complexity of your target. Vulnerabilities with known exploits or that are easily exploitable should be prioritized higher as they pose greater threats to your organization.
Consideration of risk when prioritizing vulnerabilities allows organizations to effectively focus their remediation efforts. Brinqa’s vulnerability rating engine utilizes predefined and customized risk factors to provide personalized and context-aware scores for each vulnerability allowing you to quickly identify the most hazardous threats for your unique environment and prioritize them accordingly.
2. How severe is the risk?
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, it’s crucial to assess their impact if exploited – taking into account factors like severity, exploitability, exposure and impact on business operations.
Cyber risks pose significant disruptions and costs for organizations of all sizes in every industry, from financial losses to customer churn and reputation damage.
Prioritization of vulnerabilities should take a risk-based approach in order to quickly identify and prioritize the most significant threats. To do this successfully, your organization needs to fully comprehend their goals, tolerance levels and threats while ranking vulnerabilities using asset information values and business context to create an orderly plan that addresses only critical vulnerabilities first. Developing such an approach allows your team to quickly recognize and address their most significant threats first.
3. What is an acceptable level of risk?
Cyber threats pose many threats, from disruptions in operations and financial losses, to reputational harm for an organization. Their severity varies based on industry and organization type; therefore it’s crucial that businesses recognize these risks and put into place measures to limit their impact.
Identification and prioritization of vulnerabilities is vital in protecting your organization from cyber attacks, but with new vulnerabilities emerging constantly it can be challenging to stay abreast of them all.
Consider these factors when prioritizing vulnerabilities:
Risk-based vulnerability management
Prioritizing cyber risks is no easy feat for IT and security teams. To do it properly, they must carefully consider various factors including asset criticality, vulnerability severity, exploitability and impact potential – many of these elements being complex and difficult to grasp.
Vulnerabilities have multiple exploitable vectors, making it hard to assess their true risk in an asset or system. Even vulnerabilities that don’t appear immediately exploitable could still allow attackers to gain lateral movement across networks or applications if exploited together with other vulnerabilities.
Utilizing multiple risk factors when identifying vulnerabilities is essential to ensure they are addressed quickly, including business context and threat intelligence. This ensures that those which pose the highest risks to your most critical assets will be addressed first.
Risk-Based Vulnerability Management Program
Risk-based vulnerability management programs prioritize vulnerabilities based on their business impact and likelihood to be exploited, helping prevent disagreement between security and IT teams and providing actionable information that reduces attack surfaces.
Guaranteeing that only the most pressing vulnerabilities are addressed reduces alert fatigue, freeing security teams to optimize resources by streamlining recurring vulnerability assessments.
1. Real-time visibility
Visibility, or gathering an overall view of your attack surface, is critical in eliminating blind spots. To achieve this objective, scanning all managed endpoints, network devices, software/services deployed on both public and private clouds must take place to obtain this view of all available assets within an environment.
Utilizing a risk-based vulnerability management approach allows for real-time visibility of vulnerabilities and the prioritization of results based on context, which is critical as new vulnerabilities emerge daily. Scan results become more actionable if accompanied by context such as business impact, exploit complexity complexity, or existing security controls.
Risk-based approaches also allow for easy integration between IT operations and cybersecurity, ensuring the appropriate people are aware of and can act upon high priority vulnerabilities quickly, shortening mean time to remediation while decreasing rework and disruption associated with new patch implementation. Furthermore, such approaches ensure critical resources like personnel and budget are allocated towards what matters most to business operations and cybersecurity.
2. Endpoint performance
Vulnerabilities can allow unauthorized access to vital client records, personally identifiable information and source codes. This can occur when unpatched OSes, misconfigured apps or other vulnerabilities enable malicious actors to gain unauthorized entry and take these valuable assets outside the organization for use against outside attackers.
Success of a risk-based vulnerability management program depends on accurately identifying vulnerabilities and prioritizing responses to them. Traditional vulnerability scanners may help detect unpatched software but don’t always effectively assess risk or measure impact.
An RBVM approach can assist in making these determinations, enabling you to target only the most serious vulnerabilities within your environment and minimize false positives and other distractions that slow remediation efforts. Furthermore, this strategy ensures that team spend time on vulnerabilities most likely exploited by hackers – meaning faster security hole closure.
Automating vulnerability management helps your organization reduce the risk of cyber breach while optimizing resource usage. Automating vulnerability detection ensures vulnerabilities are detected promptly, so your organization becomes less susceptible to attack.
An organization must adapt their security approach and process according to their unique IT environments and risk appetite, in order to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities most likely exploited by attackers. A risk-based approach uses context to help organizations identify and prioritize vulnerabilities based on an assessment of exploitability, business impact, likelihood of exploitation, threat intelligence and security controls – this allows organizations to tailor the process specifically for themselves.
Legacy vulnerability management solutions often produce lists of vulnerabilities found, without providing the relevant asset, network and security data needed to accurately evaluate them and their significance and impact. As a result, many vulnerabilities are disregarded as “noise,” even though they could represent serious security threats to an infrastructure segment or network segment.
Vulnerabilities come with various risk factors that determine their likelihood and impact should they be exploited, and this should inform how you prioritize vulnerabilities for management purposes in relation to your business, cloud and workload environment. A risk-based vulnerability management program uses multiple risk factors as criteria to prioritize vulnerabilities within context – according to Gartner this method is more efficient than prioritizing vulnerabilities with only CVSS scores as criteria for prioritizing vulnerabilities.
High-quality vulnerability intelligence is key for expediting remediation efforts. By assigning each vulnerability a rich, actionable risk rating, security teams know which vulnerabilities need immediate attention vs those which can wait or even be ignored.
With more vulnerabilities being disclosed, patched, and exploited than ever before, it’s more important than ever for businesses to adopt a risk-based approach to vulnerability management. By consistently correlating and analyzing vulnerability data with threat intelligence reports, manual pen test results, research findings, landscape views of attack surfaces and landscape views of risk posture analysis you will always have an accurate picture of your risk posture and can move quickly from detection to remediation – not months – with ease.
The Vulnerability Management Process Lifecycle
At this stage, it is necessary to identify critical assets, assess impact and risk assessments on vulnerabilities, prioritize threat exposure priorities and plan mitigation efforts – this might include using compensating controls to stop attacks or applying security patches.
At this stage, security teams conduct a reassessment to verify whether any actions taken have had the desired results. A detailed round of results allows asset owners, executives and compliance departments to see progress being made by security teams.
1. Conduct an asset inventory
Step one of vulnerability management begins by compiling an inventory of business-critical IT assets – hardware, software and even cloud programs and open services must all be checked for vulnerabilities – this also serves to detect any unknown assets known as shadow IT that may exist within an organization.
The second part of vulnerability management involves identifying vulnerabilities and assessing their risks. This process helps mitigate threats with potentially severe effects, such as a massive data breach or cyberattack that significantly hinders productivity.
Once vulnerability assessments are complete, security leaders should prepare risk response reports. This involves grouping vulnerabilities into clusters of common weaknesses requiring similar mitigation strategies – this ensures no time and resources are wasted on non-critical issues that could be addressed later on in lifecycle process.
2. Scan for vulnerabilities
Modern enterprise networks are complex assemblages of remote and on-premises endpoints, cloud programs, open services, hardware devices and hardware that play an essential part in business operations. But they also contain vulnerabilities that cyberthreats can exploit to cause irreparable harm.
First step of vulnerability management: scanning all attack surface. Your goal should be to create an inventory of security-relevant assets and their vulnerabilities that will aid in shaping subsequent steps of vulnerability management.
Vulnerabilities discovered during scanning should be prioritized based on their impact and likelihood of exploitation, deduplication and clustering as appropriate, correlating flaws to identify root issues that make your network more susceptible to attack, deduplicating existing vulnerabilities where applicable, etc.
3. Report on found vulnerabilities
Modern enterprises rely on an expansive network of endpoints, cloud apps, and third-party services; each represents an entryway for threat actors.
A vulnerability management process should identify vulnerabilities and assess them for risk to an organization, with an objective report summarizing findings that allow infrastructure teams to plan to remediate them.
Effective reporting must clearly explain the effects of each vulnerability on business operations to program owners; otherwise they won’t invest in your efforts. Listing all vulnerabilities with their CVE and CVSS scores provides accurate information in an easily understandable format and aids when prioritizing which ones need addressing first.
4. Deploy remediations
Modern enterprise networks are complex systems composed of endpoints, software and cloud apps that play essential roles in business operations. Each of these systems may contain vulnerabilities which threat actors could exploit for attacks against their businesses.
Step two of vulnerability management entails discovering and documenting vulnerabilities across all systems and assets in an organization, usually using scanning tools designed to locate vulnerable components within systems. It may also involve manual inspection and penetration testing.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, they must be prioritized according to their impact and severity for effective vulnerability management. This step informs decisions made during remediation – from patching software or hardware patches, isolating vulnerable systems from impacting other parts of a network and even patching vulnerable software and hardware patches themselves.
5. Report on resolved vulnerabilities
Once remediations is complete, it’s essential to monitor their effectiveness. This can be accomplished by reviewing follow-up scans or penetration tests conducted since remediations occurred, or through reporting how many vulnerabilities have been successfully remediated and how much risk has been reduced overall.
This step involves enriching scan data with actionable context such as vulnerability severity ratings, asset impact assessments, root cause analysis and remediation intelligence to more effectively prioritize vulnerabilities based on their true business impact.
As with other steps of vulnerability management, vulnerability assessment is an iterative cycle that must be repeated periodically to stay ahead of new discoveries and a continually shifting threat landscape. Automated vulnerability management tools that integrate seamlessly with your security infrastructure are an efficient way of completing this step in an expeditious fashion.
Risk prioritization requires a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s assets, vulnerabilities and threats. To this end, conducting a risk analysis to identify all critical assets with their associated risks is the starting point.
After you have identified all of your risks, the next step should be ranking them according to likelihood and impact. This allows you to establish which risks are acceptable for your organization.
Example: An earthquake might be acceptable as long as its probability is minimal and impact is negligible on your business, while an attack against IT systems could have much more severe repercussions, so this type of risk should never be accepted. Luckily, however, there are strategies available to help mitigate and reduce these risks.