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IT Teams Urged Not to Prioritize Patches Using CVSS

Organizations that prioritize patch updates primarily according to compliance requirements and use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) struggle with their vulnerability management programs, according to new research.

Cyber risk firm Kenna Security commissioned the Cyentia Institute to analyze data from its own platform related to the patching challenges facing over 100 organizations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it found that those with high performing vulnerability management programs tended to use specific tools to prioritize patches based on cyber-risk.

However, those that based their decisions on which vulnerabilities to prioritize based mainly on the CVSS performed worse than those organizations that simply ignored it, the report claimed.

Although the impact was less serious, there was also a correlation between using compliance requirements as a primary driver in prioritizing vulnerabilities and lower coverage rates.

“Compliance is oftentimes a necessary and important method for prioritization but using compliance as the primary remediation tactic correlated with reduction of overall coverage of high-risk vulnerabilities,” Kenna Security CTO, Ed Bellis, told Infosecurity.

“We believe using a remediation strategy that focuses on both the likelihood of the vulnerability being exploited along with the impact of the exploitation (high risk) to be the optimal approach. CVSS and some other methodologies are not a good measure of exploitation likelihood and can result in companies doing much more work or missing high risk vulnerabilities altogether.”

Elsewhere, the report found that companies which dedicate discrete teams to patch specific areas of the technology stack tend to fare better in vulnerability management. Defining service-level agreements (SLAs) for fixing vulnerabilities also improves the speed and overall performance of remediation, it claimed.

Bigger budgets correlated with an increased ability to remediate more bugs at a faster rate.

According to one vendor, over 22,000 vulnerabilities were publicly disclosed last year, a third of which received a CVSSv2 score of 7 or above.

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