HowTo: Improve Your Security Team’s Remediation Efficiency

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The impact of the pandemic has left security teams and CISOs with a multitude of security challenges to overcome. Chief among these responsibilities include closing security gaps within critical infrastructure and patching vulnerabilities as necessary. Given that the number of security vulnerabilities reached a record high for a fourth year in a row in 2020, security professionals are presented with a significant task if they hope to meet the growing demands that come with remediating high-risk vulnerabilities to prevent their organization from being attacked.

To alleviate the strain, and to increase efficiency and remediation speed, security teams should be adopting a risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) approach to facilitate business enablement while reducing the overall risk posture. The effectiveness of this strategy is why Gartner has named RBVM as a top security project for security and risk management leaders in 2021. To understand this better, here is some practical advice on how best to leverage threat intelligence for vulnerability prioritization and tame the CVE chaos.

Know the Difference Between Risk and Vulnerability

There are key differences between risk and vulnerability that organizations need to grasp in order to make RBVM more comprehensible. Firstly, vulnerabilities are the gaps or weaknesses that undermine an organization’s IT security efforts which may or may never be exploited, while a risk is a calculated assessment of potential danger to an organization’s security vulnerabilities within its network and systems. With too many vulnerabilities to deal with, and not enough resources to remediate them all, organizations must look beyond CVEs and base their remediation priorities on risk in order to protect what matters.

CVSS Numbers Do Not Paint the Full Picture

When it comes to vulnerability prioritization, organizations often focus attention on CVSS scores to determine the characteristics and severity of the most critical vulnerabilities to address. However, due to the evolution of the modern hacker, this method is proven to be outdated. Attackers have no regard for the severity scoring of a vulnerability and will often gravitate to the easiest point of access to exploit a system’s weaknesses. Just because the CVSS score is high does not mean the vulnerability will be exploited and recent research has proven this fact. Instead, security teams should focus on the likelihood of a vulnerability being exploited by using threat intelligence.

Avoid Drowning in a Numbers Game

Security professionals are continuously playing catch-up, reacting to incidences and putting out fires across the network. It can be a gruelling battle in the trenches due to the overwhelming number of vulnerabilities and patches that need to be applied. Vulnerability prioritization using risk-based scoring alleviates the strain by targeting remediation efforts on vulnerabilities that are most at risk of being exploited.

Tailor Your Organization’s Risk Appetite

Risk scores tackle the biggest challenge for security professionals: what to prioritize. The score given to a vulnerability calculates the likelihood of a vulnerability being exploited. This is because many NIST vulnerabilities go unexploited. So, by focusing on the likelihood provided by the risk score, you can see, in real time, a risk level based on data algorithms that account for actual hacker behavior. By using such evidence-based risk scoring, security teams have the option to be as aggressive or cautious with remediation depending on the risk appetite of the organization and business criticality.

Stay Ahead of the Cyber-criminals

Security teams are often given one clear objective: supporting new technology adoption without exposing the organization to more risks. Simple, but in reality, an extremely difficult task to master without the aid of automation and predictive technology. By utilizing intelligence-led risk-based strategies, security teams will have the necessary evidence to make smarter decisions and remediate flaws faster than a hacker can identify and exploit a weakness. Such benefits will prove advantageous in the cybersecurity battle and will likely save an organization millions in potential fines and damages.

Predict and Protect

A true risk-based vulnerability management strategy empowers organizations with trusted insights to prioritize vulnerabilities that pose a direct risk to the business. For enterprises relying on predictive technology, the accuracy of the intelligence is key to providing those early warning signs. Therefore, by leveraging machine learning, RBVM platforms can provide the necessary foresight to accurately predict which vulnerabilities malicious actors will be intent on exploiting and flag accordingly, so that security teams can become proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to risk mitigation.

Understand that RBVM is not a silver bullet, but it will certainly level the playing field for security teams. It will drive efficiency and productivity, while also improving the entire risk posture of the organization. These are all major benefits for over-stretched security professionals who can now focus remediating the most critical of issues within the system.

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