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How to Have an Effective Vulnerability Management Program

By February 10, 2019No Comments

The internet has become a paradise for hacker’s thanks to increasing online businesses. Hackers are discovering new zero-day every day which affects more than a million servers worldwide. Thus, your business must have a separate and dedicated process to deal with these attacks.

It is not easy for a security professional to cope up with new zero-days. Cyber attacks keep evolving every day. Thus, managing and identifying new vulnerabilities in your network is a complex process. It is also important to prioritize these vulnerabilities according to the risk factor. Implementing vulnerability management is very important for every company. First, let’s talk about what exactly is Vulnerability Management.

What is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability management is the process of finding new vulnerabilities in your company’s website or network. After finding these vulnerabilities you can either report it to a professional security team or fix them yourself. If these vulnerabilities are left unfixed, then your company can face a huge loss. Web security Vulnerabilities like ransomware can delete your whole server data. Thus, it is very important to identify and fix vulnerabilities in your business network. As the cyber world is evolving every day, new vulnerabilities keep popping every day. Thus, vulnerability management is not a one-time process. You will have to do it on regular basis to keep your web servers and web applications safe from hackers.

Vulnerability assessments will typically find more than thousands of vulnerabilities in your network. Most of these vulnerabilities are either connected to each other or are duplicates. But, most of the tools will provide you with different patches for every vulnerability. When in reality only one security patch can fix most of the vulnerabilities. It is difficult to install so many patches in every server and computer. Thus, having good and effective vulnerability management will definitely help your company.

  1. Try to implement a risk-based approach

The first thing you must work on is your company approach towards finding vulnerabilities. Most of the companies don’t focus much on their approach which can result in wastage of time and many. Most of them have a similar approach and that is to find the most threatening risks at any given point of time. For example, if ransomware is affecting most of the computers then they will only to try to deal with it.

This approach is good but using a risk-based approach would be much better. Instead of scanning your systems once a month or once a year, try to monitor your network and systems every day of every week. If you are accessing your system frequently, then you can fix them as soon as they affect your system. Thus, you can save a lot of money for your company.

  1. Identify your company business process

It is very important to understand your company business procedure first. You must know which process is crucial and critical for your company. But, there is no way for an IT guy to identify this himself. Thus, other departments must collaborate with the IT department. All the different organizations like the legal department, finance department, and marketing department must put together the special security team. After that, they work together for several weeks to identify the business procedure. Employees who have the most knowledge about a domain are very valuable during this process. They will explain your security system about how exactly things happen in your company.

  1. Find the applications which are important for your business

Once your security team knows about your business procedure, the next step is to find all the applications which are important for your business procedure. This can’t be done without the support of other departments. Thus, all other departments like the financial and legal department must collaborate with the IT department. After a lot of discussions, your IT department will know which applications are crucial for your business. For some department Emails are important but for some other department messaging may be important. Thus, it is very important to make a list of these important applications.

  1. Find all the hidden applications and data sources.

After you know all the important applications, try to find hidden applications and data sources. These data sources can cause a lot of damage to your company security. Make sure you also check the mobile devices, as well as the laptops of your company employees. Most of the hidden data sources will exist in these most used devices. These devices often contain the most important and sensitive data of your company or organization. Thus, it is important for the IT department to collaborate with all the other departments. Find out who is using laptops or mobile devices for using business applications. Try to understand the data flow between these devices and the server.

It is important to find out if any data is getting leaked through these devices. Most of the important business software like Office 365 allows its users to access important documents from any device. Thus, most of the company employees access important business documents from their personal devices like mobile phone and laptop. Also, check if your employees are sending important documents over public channels like Yahoo mail or Gmail.

  1. Use vulnerability scanner to scan for vulnerabilities

You are ready to run a vulnerability scanner once you have understood your company data flow and network infrastructure. For this purpose, you can use famous vulnerability scanners like acuentix or some other open source vulnerability scanners. These scanners can scan your network or web-application for most of the common vulnerabilities. They have thousands of vulnerabilities stored in their database. Thus, they will easily find and detect vulnerabilities in your company system or network.

These tools will also automatically arrange these vulnerabilities according to risk level. You can consult a security expert to patch these vulnerabilities. But, if you are low on budget then you can do it yourself also. All these tools will provide you with solutions or patches of the reported vulnerabilities. It is very easy to patch these vulnerabilities. Once you have patched vulnerabilities, run the scanner again. This will verify your patching process. Most companies forget about checking the system for vulnerabilities again.

  1. Tracking and reporting vulnerabilities.

The last step of vulnerability management is to report them. It is important to make sure that your reporting of vulnerabilities is risk-based. You already know what application and what sector is important for your business. Thus, use that knowledge to fix and patch important vulnerabilities first. Don’t start fixing every vulnerability you found. Most of the vulnerabilities are connected with each other. Therefore, fixing the most crucial vulnerability can fix other vulnerabilities related to it also.

There are much more things required for an effective vulnerability management program. You should factor in regulatory compliances such as HIPPA and PCI DSS. Vulnerability management plays a very important role in making sure that your company network is secure.

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