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What is a Vulnerability Management Program?

The recent Log4j exposure raises the question: Do you have a Vulnerability Management Program?

A Vulnerability Management Program is a systematic approach to periodically assessing your data exposure. It involves a scan of what you have on your systems – equipment, devices, and software – and checks those assets against databases of known vulnerabilities.

To be of value, this assessment should be done at regular frequencies. And it should be designed to cover every operable device, application, and piece of equipment you have. So, you will need an accurate inventory of your technology assets before you start. Many organizations outsource this work to experts, instead of spending time and money on a do-it-yourself approach.

Why do you need a Vulnerability Management Program?

A Vulnerability Management program allows you to see all your devices and all the potential exposure vectors they have. This includes laptops, tablets, phones – or even a streaming service, such as music. For regulated organizations, Vulnerability Management may be required, and for vendors serving regulated organizations, it can be a leg up over the competition, especially if a vendor can gain certification for data controls, i.e., a Service Organization Control (SOC) attestation. An organization with a Vulnerability Management Program in place would have had an advantage in resolving the log4j vulnerability.

What’s the first step in creating a program?

To start, you need to scan your systems. This can be a permanent piece of equipment you install, or it can be a scan using software to assess your system. It can check your software against a database of known vulnerabilities for that software, or it can look for how systems are communicating on your network.

What’s the next step?

Obviously, that would be a report on what vulnerabilities were found on your system. This report would rank the criticality of the risk found. Ideally, organizations would use this report to prioritize patches and other fixes, and perhaps develop a budget to improve security overall. We recommend scanning your systems on a regular basis, as hackers continually evolve their attacks.

What should you keep in mind when setting up a program?

Make sure you have an accurate system inventory. Often, we see customers overlooking an out-of-date system because it’s a single machine, it’s used only occasionally, and it can still do what the organization needs it to do. Also, don’t assume everyone has the most up-to-date software on their systems. A Vulnerability Management Program keeps track of all software versions used.

Who should be involved in developing a program?

At least one C-level executive should be involved, as a scan should cover your entire business environment. Also, it should include anyone involved in an examination process, as the examiner likely will be asking about vulnerability management.  And, of course, include your IT team.

Still not sure where to start? Need help checking on your exposure risks? Contact us today for a confidential chat to see if we can assist!