If you are a security practitioner, then you may have noticed that much of the security industry exists because of vulnerabilities. Regardless of what job position you occupy, vulnerabilities are oftentimes the reason why you wake up every morning and ultimately engage infosec from within your cutting-edge working environment. Vulnerabilities will continue to arise; this is a fact of the environmental change that goes with any business or organization. Security professionals need to be prepared to address these flaws. Overall, they will be much better prepared if they set up one of the top three CIS security controls to combat those vulnerabilities. We are specifically talking about setting up a vulnerability management (VM) program. A VM program is a holistic process performed by either IT security teams or security service providers with the goal of eliminating vulnerabilities that pose a serious risk to the organization. It’s a program that consists of the following six steps:
- Discovering vulnerabilities on an automated basis.
- Prioritizing the assets of the business.
- Assessing the risks on those assets.
- Reporting vulnerabilities and describing them.
- Remediating the vulnerabilities by applying the suitable patches.
- Verifying the elimination of the threat by performing a follow-through audit.
A VM program is extremely advantageous to any business. If applied successfully, it will not only enhance enterprises’ security posture by uncovering risks and addressing them, but it will also save time and money by suppressing the likelihood of a data breach. However, starting a vulnerability management program and expecting it to work as planned should be a goal for any security team. And why not? Their job is to lower threats and make the business more secure, after all. Yet we are here today to discuss four challenges that prevent security teams from completing this objective and see what solutions organizations can use to overcome those challenges.
1. Lack of resources
Insufficient funding for information security programs is a common problem for small- to mid-size businesses. It’s no surprise that executives’ misunderstanding of how essential cybersecurity is for their business continuity often leads to catastrophic results. These people usually ask for a confirmable ROI for security programs to take things seriously enough and make room for it in the business overall culture. Also, due to the cybersecurity shortage, the lack of funding results in not hiring the necessary personnel to establish an effective VM program. So it’s better to convince the broad management to invest in a VM program by demonstrating the financial and reputational costs they will be forced to deal with. Trust me! Nothing scares those people except for losing money. Show them statistics and examples of expensive data breaches that happened to other business, maybe to other competitors.
2. Wrongly prioritizing risks
Due to technology’s evolution, masses of new vulnerabilities are born every day. This fact brings various challenges to security teams, including the chance of not prioritizing vulnerabilities based upon the risks they pose to the business assets. Security teams can’t fix everything. Hence, they should give priority to flaws that are most dangerous to their business assets. The severity of some vulnerabilities can be deceiving sometimes. However, it’s a common practice to prioritize vulnerabilities based on a plan established from the beginning of the program.
3. Poor communication between teams
Communication is a core component of any business. It largely defines the success or failure of it. In case of setting up a VM program, poor communication between IT, IT security and board management lead to issues that undermine the efficiency of a VM program. Usually, these issues appear at the planning-level when C-suite executives misunderstand the expectations of the program or maybe just refuse to attend any meetings about cybersecurity. Further, It’s true that security teams can conduct a vulnerability scan without executives support, but they will surely need it to make the program look more weighty. For example, a security team just completed a scanning operation and wants to send the issues found to IT. In order to have the issues taken seriously by the IT department, it's fundamental to have the support of executives from within the business. Unfortunately, this an ongoing challenge for most IT security professionals. Security is everyone’s job, and it’s all about insisting on the crucial role that a VM program operates to increase business security.
4. Vulnerability management program regularity
One of the keys that guarantee the success of a VM program is to consider it as a continuous approach that is practiced not one or two times every six months but during the whole year. If the enterprise can’t manage to control the flow of vulnerabilities and continuously fix them, then there will be what is called “vulnerability debt,” which will leave the enterprise network uncovered against any potential cyber attack. Irregular scans will never serve the enterprise’s needs to be secure. The right practice is to automatically scan assets on a weekly basis as recommended by the CIS security control. This will ensure that the business stays ahead of any lateness that will cause business interruption.
In short, challenges are an essential part of every security program. Security professionals are able to vanquish most of them as long as they are backed up by management. The latter should be more mature about cybersecurity and accept the fact that it's now an essential ingredient for every organization. This understanding should reflect how hackers will have no mercy on organizations that shortchange their digital security.
About the author: Amine Amhoume, @AmiineQu, is a freelance content writer and Ethical Hacker. Graduated from Cadi Ayyad University in English Literature. He provides tech startups with content that create leads, engages the audience and educates them. His career is driven by the passion for cybersecurity and the English language. Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.