In spite of the latest in security tech and know-how, breaches seem to have only become more frequent. As companies lag behind in embracing security measures, like vulnerability management best practices, they leave themselves open to more and more security breaches.
However, your company doesn’t have to be one of those at-risk companies. Even as data breaches become more common, a solid vulnerability management policy can keep your business safe.
What is vulnerability management, why do you need it, and what are the best practices for a policy? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer those questions and more. Read on to learn what you need to know for your brand’s security!
What Is Vulnerability Management?
Every company needs to take information security seriously.
Once, “information security” looked like keeping files and paperwork behind a locked door. But today, with critical information stored online or otherwise on a computer, security looks very different than it once did.
Information security includes a number of different things, but vulnerability management makes up the bulk of a good information security approach. Without vulnerability management, your information is essentially kept behind an unlocked door.
Vulnerability management also isn’t a single event: it’s an ongoing process that needs to be periodically refined so it stays up to date. Basically, it means looking for and addressing software vulnerabilities.
This process usually happens in four steps:
The first goal is to discover potential vulnerabilities. Next, they need to get appropriately reported, and prioritized according to how dangerous each one is. Finally, the correct response will reduce the threat of a breach, closing up vulnerabilities.
The process is never complete: new vulnerabilities always need to get searched for so they can be addressed before they result in a serious issue.
It’s also important to realize that vulnerability is not the same thing as an active security threat. The goal is to find these potential security loopholes before they actually get exploited, resulting in a breach.
Vulnerability Management Policy: What Should Yours Look Like?
With that definition in mind, let’s take a look at the best practices for vulnerability management policy.
Never Stop Scanning
No matter how long it’s been since you identified a vulnerability, or how many you’ve recently addressed, the first and most important step is to never stop scanning for more.
The world of cybersecurity is always changing, and what wasn’t a vulnerability yesterday could become one tomorrow. If you’re always scanning, you’ll stay one step ahead of potential threats.
How often those scans happen will depend on your company and the security tools you use, but make sure to make the scans frequent and consistent. The more often you scan, the better.
Leave No Stone Unturned
When it comes to vulnerabilities, you must scan absolutely everything. Don’t neglect a certain application or component of your system just because you don’t think it could contain a vulnerability.
If you don’t look for vulnerabilities, you’ll never see them. Make sure you’re scanning both the cloud and other systems, all applications, and any device or system that you use.
Of course, some places will hold a bigger potential threat than others. If you find a vulnerability, you can decide when and how to address it based on its potential threat level. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check everything, even where the risk of a threat is low.
Keep up with the Threats
In addition to looking for vulnerabilities, it’s helpful to know the latest news on what kinds of threats to expect. This will help you prioritize addressing vulnerabilities, so the riskiest ones get handled first.
The landscape of threats is always changing. If you know what the latest threat trends are, you can target the vulnerabilities most likely to get attacked first. If you’re not up to date on threats, it’ll just be guesswork.
One reason data breaches are so common is that it’s easy to underestimate the level of potential risk there is. The possibility of a breach at some future point, from an unknown threat, may not be enough to really incentivize your team.
That’s why adding in other incentives for closing up vulnerabilities can help your systems stay secure. Consider putting your security teams against each other in a friendly competition, with a prize for the team that minimizes the most vulnerabilities, or that works the fastest.
Don’t Forget Remote Workers
Chances are good, you have some remote workers, or contract remote workers for the occasional specific task. Your in-house team also might travel sometimes, becoming remote workers temporarily. It’s important that you make your remote team as secure as your in-house staff.
Your remote workers might not need to connect to all of your systems, but they probably use at least some applications to complete tasks. Their devices are part of your systems, at least while they’re using them for the job.
These remote workers can also pose an added risk since they might be using devices for both personal and work use, or connecting to unsecured wi-fi networks. Make sure you have a way to address vulnerabilities from these sources, too.
Focus on Prioritization
Prioritization is one of the most important parts of your vulnerability management program best practices. Make sure you’re prioritizing vulnerabilities well, and occasionally checking with your prioritization methods to make sure they’re still effective.
But it’s also important to address even the low- and medium-risk vulnerabilities, even though you won’t do so as quickly as with the high-risk ones. If you ignore some vulnerabilities just because they seem small, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll get exploited.
Implementation: The Vulnerability Management Process
Now that you have an idea of the best practices for vulnerability management policy, how should you implement your new policy?
Although you’ll need to keep your team involved and up to date on these changes, your best bet is to start by hiring an outside team to assess your vulnerabilities. The professionals will help make sure you’re on the right track.
Looking for a professional vulnerability assessment? We can help — learn more here!