Unchecked security vulnerabilities can lead to cybersecurity attacks that threaten the systems of your organization. Depending on the network compromised, the consequences of such an attack can range from loss of reputation to significant financial or legal damages, all the way to national security threats.
Quzara has helped secure systems that fall under each of these categories. In this post, we'll discuss what vulnerability management is and what the process looks like.
What Are the Differences Between a Vulnerability, a Risk, and a Threat?
When learning about cybersecurity, you'll likely come across the terms vulnerability, risk, and threat. These three terms are related but distinct concepts within the cybersecurity field. Understanding the difference is important to understanding the vulnerability management process.
- Vulnerability: A vulnerability is a weakness in a system that could be exploited by an attacker and used to gain unauthorized access or otherwise compromise the security of the system. They can be found in hardware, software, networks, or other some other component of the system. Configuration errors, programming mistakes, or design flaws cause vulnerabilities.
- Risk: A risk represents the likelihood of a given vulnerability being exploited and an evaluation of the impact it would have if such an exploit were to occur. In evaluating risk, cybersecurity professionals consider the severity of the vulnerability, the probability of an attack occurring that will exploit it, and the consequences that would arise should that attack be carried out successfully.
- Threat: A threat is a potential event that could occur that results in a vulnerability being exploited and causing harm to a system or the business it belongs to. These can include intentional and malicious events, such as a cyberattack, but a threat can also be unintentional, such as a natural disaster or human error.
What Is the Difference Between Vulnerability Management and a Vulnerability Assessment?
We now know what vulnerability is, so what is vulnerability management? In this section, we'll look at vulnerability management and explain how it differs from the related term, vulnerability assessment.
Broadly speaking, vulnerability assessment is an early step in the vulnerability and threat management process. A vulnerability assessment is a point-in-time look at a system's vulnerabilities. During an assessment, the goal is to discover all of the vulnerabilities that exist in a system at that moment. This can be accomplished through automated scans that look for known vulnerabilities or through manual means if the situation warrants it. A vulnerability assessment will uncover outdated software, misconfigured networks, and other factors that can increase the chances of an attacker gaining access to the system.
After the assessment is over, the vulnerability management process can begin in full. A security team will take the list of vulnerabilities determined from the assessment, develop a risk profile for each of them, and then begin the process of addressing those risks. This might include patching software with the latest security updates, changing configuration files to better align with cybersecurity best practices and more. Then, because new cybersecurity threats are always emerging, the process repeats itself.
So, a good vulnerability management definition might be "the continual assessment and remediation of vulnerabilities and threats within a system."
What Are the 5 Steps of the Vulnerability Management Cycle
- Discovery: The first step in the vulnerability management cycle is to discover all aspects of the system that need to go through the vulnerability assessment process. This may include network devices, servers, applications, and databases.
- Assessment: The next step is to perform an assessment to identify vulnerabilities that exist on each of the identified items. This is done using automated scanning tools that identify potential weaknesses in the system.
- Prioritization: Once vulnerabilities have been identified, they are prioritized based on a risk evaluation. This includes assessing the likelihood of the vulnerability being exploited and the potential impact of exploitation.
- Remediation: The next step is to remediate the identified vulnerabilities. This may include patching systems, updating configurations, or implementing compensating controls.
- Monitoring: The final step in the vulnerability management cycle is to monitor the effectiveness of the remediation efforts. This involves monitoring for new vulnerabilities and ensuring that all previously identified vulnerabilities have been successfully addressed.
Vulnerability Management Solutions: Talk to Quzara
Cybersecurity is too important to take lightly. The team at Quzara is FedRAMP certified and qualified to handle any system, from the network at a small business to the infrastructure of a government agency or contractor. To learn more about how Quzara can keep your systems secure, contact us today.
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