Success in nearly any endeavor requires an appropriate and thought-out strategy, something that’s especially true for organizations considering building a vulnerability management strategy. You can have all of the tools, skills, and resources at your disposal, but without a plan to organize and guide your efforts, you may find that you aren’t achieving the results you hoped for.
Elements of a comprehensive vulnerability management strategy
Your vulnerability management strategy should be designed to help identify potential threats that may exist for a variety of reasons throughout the enterprise. These can include misconfigured devices or software, unpatched systems, open permissions on sensitive data, vulnerable code or open source packages, and many other factors.
Due to the complexity of today’s business environment, creating an effective vulnerability management program can be difficult. It’s important to understand the many facets that make up a successful vulnerability management strategy in order to build one that meets the cybersecurity needs of your organization.
Let’s take a look at some of the key elements that make up a comprehensive vulnerability management strategy.
Data and information management
We talk about cyber asset visibility as the foundation of what we do at JupiterOne. Information management, the practice of collecting all your data in one place so it’s easy to manage and interrogate, is fundamental to your vulnerability management strategy for all of the same reasons.
Information management is the programmatic practice of collecting, managing, preserving, storing, and delivering information. If you apply these same practices to vulnerability management, it can be summarized as understanding your organization’s assets, knowing where they reside and who can access them, and using that knowledge to secure those assets properly.
Defining roles and responsibilities
“Who’s responsible for patching that system?” Questions like this should be easily answered when they arise. Building a structured and detailed roles and responsibilities chart, for example using the RACI methodology (defining who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task) and keeping this information updated regularly will make things run as smoothly as possible.
The RACI methodology helps answer who should be able and responsible for triaging or fixing a vulnerability. You also need a way to see who has the correct access and can actually do the work. Managing IAM roles is a critical part of asset management and a key part of your vulnerability management strategy.
While vulnerability management doesn’t require the same level of organization-wide training that a general cybersecurity awareness program does, it is important to train appropriate staff on their roles and responsibilities, as defined by the strategy.
This includes not only skills relevant to the various technical aspects of the program, but also expectations related to the management and logistics of the enterprise’s vulnerability management activities. Project management, reporting, and assessment are all necessary elements of handling vulnerabilities and securing your enterprise.
Risk assessment and vulnerability assessment
Risk and vulnerability assessments provide you with a snapshot for how secure the enterprise is when they are conducted. A vulnerability assessment looks at the enterprise’s environment to find potential vulnerabilities and flag them for consideration.
A risk assessment is another layer on the vulnerability assessment, assigning priority based on the potential risk posed by the vulnerabilities found. Both are important sources of information for your vulnerability management program, but not the only methods for identifying vulnerabilities, a topic we’ve covered more extensively in this blog.
Tracking and reporting
Regularly assessing your vulnerability management efforts allows you to manage and adjust your strategy. Key strategic initiatives require reporting to company leadership; vulnerability management is no different. Your reporting intervals, requirements, and key stakeholders should be defined as part of the strategy.
Clearly written, accessible documentation ties your strategy together. Be sure to document everything in language any member of your organization can understand and follow, publish documentation in a central location everyone has access to, and communicate its existence regularly!
It doesn’t matter if you have a great vulnerability management strategy in place if nobody knows it exists or how to follow it.
Where to Start
Most enterprises have some vulnerability management in place, even if they lack a true vulnerability management strategy. The logical first step is to review any existing components and evaluate their effectiveness, noting any gaps or areas of inefficiency.
Once this is complete, building a full inventory of your cyber assets will enable you to start building your vulnerability management strategy with confidence that the program will fit your enterprise’s needs.
Ready to get started? Let us show you how to use JupiterOne to create a complete inventory of your cyber assets and play an important role in your ongoing vulnerability management strategy.