Take a Proactive Stance on Information Security with a Vulnerability Management Process
Too often, businesses are reactive in their information security strategy. They put some basic safeguards in place, and then wait for something—an attack—to happen before doing anything else. It’s far better for businesses to be proactive about their data security. Start by developing your vulnerability management process.
Implementing a vulnerability management process requires several steps:
1. Identify assets that need protection.
Businesses rarely have comprehensive documentation of all their IT assets, including hardware, software, data, and networks. But in order to implement appropriate protections, you need to know what needs to be protected. Therefore, the first thing to do when working on your vulnerability management process is to identify all your IT assets.
2. Determine assets’ vulnerabilities.
Each asset will have its own particular vulnerabilities based on the technology used and the security that was put in place around the asset when it was deployed; the process and schedule that’s used to monitor, support, and upgrade an asset can also introduce vulnerabilities. Identifying vulnerabilities is partly an analytical process and partly an active, testing process.
3. Prioritize vulnerabilities.
Not all assets are equally valuable; not all threats are equally likely or equally damaging. Consider those criteria and prioritize the vulnerabilities for remediation. Because this assessment will likely be performed by multiple people, it’s important to define a standardized process for evaluating risks in order to keep the ratings consistent.
4. Remediate the vulnerabilities.
Once the vulnerabilities are prioritized, you can create a schedule for repairing them. Importantly, it’s possible that not all vulnerabilities need to be remediated; the business can legitimately decide to bear the risk rather than foot the cost of correcting the problem. However, this should always be a deliberate choice rather than an oversight or simple negligence.
5. Report on status.
Compliance officers and company management need to be informed of the risks and the actions taken to reduce them. Metrics will help evaluate the both the safety of the business and the effectiveness of the vulnerability management process.
Of course, this isn’t a one-and-done operation. Vulnerability management requires a continual process of monitoring for risks and correcting them. This means that tasks that seem routine and almost insignificant, such as inventory tracking and patch management, are in fact critical. They need to be considered and planned carefully, and both processes should be tied into the organization’s change management process. In addition to manual tracking, tools that automate discovery of both inventory and vulnerabilities should be used on a regular basis.
Prescient Solutions provides infrastructure assessments to discover your vulnerabilities as well as cybersecurity solutions to help businesses in the Chicago and Schaumburg protect their valuable IT resources. Contact us for help developing a vulnerability management process and implementing other critical information security controls.