Why Vulnerability Scanning is Not Enough: The Role of Remediation in Cyber Hygiene
Vulnerability scanning is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity. It involves identifying weaknesses in a system or network that could be exploited by an attacker. While vulnerability scanning is essential, it is not enough to keep an organization secure.
In this blog post, we will discuss why vulnerability scanning alone is insufficient, and why prioritizing and remediating vulnerabilities is crucial to an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
The Limitations of Vulnerability Scanning
Vulnerability scanning is an automated process that identifies known vulnerabilities in a system or network. However, it cannot detect new or zero-day vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered. Attackers are constantly developing new methods to exploit vulnerabilities and vulnerability scanners may not be able to detect them all.
In order to establish a secure system, vulnerability scanning is a necessary first step. While a scanner can identify vulnerabilities, it is important to note that it does not fix them. This is where remediation comes into play. Without proper remediation, a system is left vulnerable to attacks, even if vulnerabilities have been detected and identified by a scanner.
Therefore, it is essential to conduct regular vulnerability scanning and implement a remediation plan to ensure that all identified vulnerabilities are addressed and the system is protected from potential threats.
But what happens when a scanning tools reports back with thousands of vulnerabilities? How does the operations team know which vulnerabilities to start patching first? A more important question, does the internal team have the capabilities necessary of developing and deploying the patches necessary or do you need to hire outside talent?
These are all concerns that come up time and time again and that is why having a remediation process and team in place to execute is paramount in keeping an organization secure.
Prioritizing and Remediation
The importance of vulnerability scanning cannot be overstated. While scans can help identify potential issues, it is important to remember that the results of the scan are only as good as the remediation process that follows. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to fully remediate the vulnerabilities that are detected.
This can leave a significant portion of the organization’s attack surface exposed to malicious actors for an extended period of time.
In fact, research has shown that even a year after a scan is conducted, nearly ⅓ of detected vulnerabilities remain open. What’s more alarming is a quarter of all vulnerabilities detected are never remediated at all – leaving organizations at great risk for cyber attacks.
Realizing this massive challenge facing the majority of organizations who run vulnerability assessments, AIS has developed a vulnerability remediation proactive subscription-based service that provides frequently updated patch detection content.
AIS Vulnerability Remediation (VR)
Working in conjunction with HCL’s BigFix’s patch catalog, AIS’s customized content is dynamically available and tailored to your needs to eliminate gaps in patch coverage within our IT environment.
AIS VR process can be broken down into 3 phases.
- Vulnerability Identification – Vulnerability scanner results inform identification of remediation steps and actions required to address findings
- Vulnerability Remediation – Deploys patches before they appear as vulnerabilities in a scanner or are listed as a CVE
- Remediation Validation – Captures reports that solutions have been deployed to all required targets
The level of complexity and importance of a specific vulnerability as it relates to the IT infrastructure will determine the order in which vulnerabilities will be remediated. It is important to note that the vulnerability management goal is not to close all vulnerabilities but to successfully execute on the following tasks.
- Patch everything that is patchable (existing content)
- Proactively engage in risk analysis and prioritization of everything remaining (net new content)
- Continuous correlation/calibration/translation between scanners (Security Teams) and patching (IT Operation Teams)
By effectively focusing on the above areas the AIS VR solution is able to continuously balance the impossibility of absolute security and the absurdity of none. In other words, AIS VR plays a proactive role in the Risk Management Iterative Lifecycle for any organization.
Vulnerability scanning is a critical component of cybersecurity, but it is only the first step in protecting an organization’s systems. While vulnerability scanning provides valuable insights into potential weaknesses, it is essential to take prompt action to address the identified vulnerabilities. Organizations should prioritize and remediate vulnerabilities in a timely manner to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture.
In addition to regular vulnerability scanning, organizations should implement a comprehensive vulnerability management program that includes vulnerability identification, prioritization, remediation, and continuous monitoring to ensure that their systems remain secure against emerging threats.
This program should also involve regular training and awareness for employees to promote a culture of security within the organization.
Do you find yourself in a perpetual state of never ending list of vulnerabilities? It is only natural to eventually feel the anxiety building within yourself and your fellow team members the longer those vulnerabilities stay active.