One of the most cost-efficient ways for an organisation to improve its cyber security is by undertaking vulnerability management processes to reduce its total attack surface — or the total number of ways cyber criminals can attack you.

Through intelligent vulnerability management, you proactively deal with cyber threats by resolving potential problems in your organisation before they become disasters. It’s far more efficient to implement cyber security responses as early as possible, as one data breach costs Australian organisations an average of $3.35 million.

As an organisation, you have two choices for implementing a vulnerability management platform. You can build and manage it yourself, or you can outsource to a managed security services provider (MSSP) like us.

What is vulnerability management?

In cyber security, a vulnerability is a potential weakness in your IT environment that leaves your organisation open to cyber attacks. Vulnerabilities can be abused by cyber criminals through ransomware attacks, denial of service attacks, zero-day exploits, and by stealing confidential and sensitive information.

Vulnerability management is the practice of proactively finding and fixing these potential weaknesses. The objective is to apply these fixes and patches before cyber criminals can exploit them and cause a cyber security breach.

Full vulnerability management involves several stages: namely, identifying, evaluating, remediating, and reporting on vulnerabilities. The remediation or correction phase often includes installing patches, creating better security policies, and delivering staff training. If you use managed vulnerability management from a managed security service provider (MSSP) like CT, all of these phases are automatically and simultaneously carried out for you.

Why does an organisation need vulnerability management?

Having a vulnerability management program in place that regularly checks your IT environment is crucial for preventing cyber security breaches.

Vulnerabilities are security gaps that can be exploited by attackers to damage network assets, trigger a denial of service, or steal confidential and sensitive information. Attackers are constantly looking for new vulnerabilities to attack — and taking advantage of old vulnerabilities that may have gone unpatched.

Without a vulnerability management system, old security gaps may be left on the network for extended periods of time. This gives attackers more opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities, carry out their attacks, and compromise your organisation.

What are the key components of vulnerability management?

Whether you want to create a vulnerability management program internally or use a vulnerability management service from a managed security service provider (MSSP) like CT, there are multiple factors that you need to account for:

  • Inventory Management

Your inventory includes all of your organisation’s technology, software, devices, data and systems. Your inventory management system needs to recognise and categorise all assets in your IT environment, because you can’t protect what you don’t know you have.

  • Patch Management

Patch management is the process of updating your inventory to ensure everything is up to date. Your patch management program should not only regularly update your patches according to schedule, but also identify and alert you to failed patches.

  • Vulnerability Scanning Tool

It’s important to have a comprehensive vulnerability scanning tool that can quickly and accurately scan your whole inventory of assets. You can then implement patches to those assets that have been deemed vulnerable.

  • Risk Assessment

When allocating resources to vulnerability management, you need to first carry out a risk assessment of all vulnerabilities. You must then prioritise those vulnerabilities that have the biggest impact on your network security and are easiest to fix.

Why Managed Vulnerability Management?

One of the fastest ways to build a vulnerability management program is to let an MSSP do it for you. Building a vulnerability management platform yourself is difficult, costly, and time-consuming. If you’ve already suffered from multiple breaches in the past, you likely need to implement a solution as quickly as possible.

MSSPs like CT have robust toolsets and experienced teams accustomed to handling vulnerability and patch management plan build-outs. This helps your organisation build a better vulnerability management system to address security gaps, while delivering effective customer service to help you deploy and manage the platform. 

For example, we use a powerful end-to-end vulnerability management platform that can initiate assessments in less than 5 minutes and gives you full visibility over your entire attack surface. While you can build one yourself, there’s no guarantee an inhouse solution will be more effective.

Additionally, using an MSSP eliminates the need to add dedicated internal staff. This dramatically reduces the cost of vulnerability management, as modern cyber security specialists commanding high salaries. More fundamentally, it can be highly difficult or even impossible to source, screen, onboard and manage specialists if you don’t have the expertise yourself.

Why CT?

The cyber security services we deliver are critical to the maturity enhancement of an organisation’s cyber security programs. The defining feature of this service is the ability to not only provide assurance and accountability, but to further to test the effectiveness of your security controls.

We also design all solutions to consolidate technology and services with business outcomes in mind, minimising ‘technology sprawl’. This is where there are too many different technologies within your organisation. Implementing controls in a layered approach is recognised as the most effective way to provide security outcomes, but it easily leads to more and more technologies that may be conflicting, overlapping or otherwise ineffective. This complicated IT environment can make your security outcomes unsuccessful. 

The key principles that our security assurance and testing address include:

  • Performing vulnerability testing and scanning.
  • Identifying, documenting and remediating asset vulnerabilities in a timely manner.
  • Configuring systems and applications to reduce their attack surface.
  • Identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities in systems and applications in a timely manner.
  • Providing personnel with ongoing cyber security awareness training.