Technology vulnerabilities are an unfortunate side effect of innovation. When software companies push new updates, the code often has weaknesses. Hackers exploit these. Software makers then address the vulnerabilities with a security patch. The cycle continues with each new software or hardware update.
About 93% of corporate networks are estimated to be susceptible to hacker penetration. Assessing and managing these network weaknesses isn’t always a priority for organisations. Many suffer breaches because of poor vulnerability management.
61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old.
Many types of attacks take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in software code. This includes ransomware attacks, account takeover, and other common cyberattacks.
Whenever you see the term “exploit” when reading about a data breach, that’s an exploit of a vulnerability. Hackers write malicious code to take advantage of these “loopholes.” That code can allow them to elevate privileges. Or to run system commands or perform other dangerous network intrusions.
Putting together an effective vulnerability management process can reduce your risk. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow the steps we’ve outlined below to get started.
First, you must identify all the devices and software you must assess. You’ll want to include all devices that connect to your network, including:
Vulnerabilities can appear in many places, such as the code for an operating system, a cloud platform, software, or firmware. So, you’ll want a complete inventory of all systems and endpoints in your network.
This is an essential first step, so you will know what you need to include in the scope of your assessment.
Next will be performing a vulnerability assessment. This is usually done by an IT professional using assessment software. This could also include penetration testing.
During the assessment, the professional scans your systems for any known vulnerabilities. The assessment tool matches found software versions against vulnerability databases.
For example, a database may note that a version of Microsoft Exchange has a vulnerability. If it detects that you have a server running that exact version, it will report it as a found weakness in your security.
The assessment results provide a roadmap for mitigating network vulnerabilities. There will usually be several, and not all are as severe as others. You will next need to rank which ones to address first.
At the top of the list should be those experts consider severe. Many vulnerability assessment tools use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). This categorises vulnerabilities with a rating score from low to critical severity.
You’ll also want to rank vulnerabilities by your own business needs. If the software is only used occasionally on one device, you may consider it a lower priority to address. While a vulnerability in software is used on all employee devices, you may rank it as a high priority.
Remediate vulnerabilities according to the prioritise list. Remediation often means applying an issued update or security patch. But it may also mean upgrading the hardware that may need to be updated for you to update.
Another form of remediation may be ringfencing. This is when you “wall off” an application or device from others in the network. A company may do this if a scan turns up a vulnerability for which a patch does not yet exist.
Increasing advanced threat protection settings in your network can also help. Once you’ve remediated the weaknesses, you should confirm the fixes.
It’s essential to document the vulnerability assessment and management process. This is vital both for cybersecurity needs and compliance.
You’ll want to document when you performed the last vulnerability assessment. Then enter all the steps taken to remediate each vulnerability. Keeping these logs will be vital in the case of a future breach. They also can inform the following vulnerability assessment.
Once you go through a vulnerability assessment and mitigation round, you’re not done. Vulnerability management is an ongoing process.
In 2022, there were over 22,500 new vulnerabilities documented. Developers continue to update their software continuously. Each of those updates can introduce new vulnerabilities into your network.
It’s a best practice to have a schedule for regular vulnerability assessments. The evaluation, prioritisation and documentation cycle should be ongoing. This fortifies your network against cyberattacks. It removes one of the main enablers of hackers.
Take the first step towards effective vulnerability management. We can help you fortify your network against attacks. Give us a call today to schedule a vulnerability assessment to get started.
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We’re always just a phone call away; we live and breathe IT services. We’re here to help your business with anything that could go wrong with your systems or devices.
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