Bolstering Resilience In The Age Of Expanding Threats

The recent implementation of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) cybersecurity regulations has mandated public companies reveal any material cybersecurity incidents within a stringent four-business-day timeframe. This signifies that high-profile breaches, like the recent 23andMe breach, which compromised the data of approximately 7 million customers, will now carry significantly more severe ramifications.

The SEC's regulations represent a new wave of transformative alterations in regulatory compliance, hinting at a more profound shift in how companies approach and adhere to regulatory standards.

These regulations, just a fraction of the evolving landscape of compliance changes, signify a broader shift in accountability amid an increasingly broad attack surface and complex threat landscape. As the scope and complexity of potential threats continue to grow, navigating this complex environment emphasizes the critical need for comprehensive cyber exposure management.

Navigating The Expanding Attack Surface

The contemporary organizational attack surface is undergoing exponential expansion, propelled by the digital shift: migration to cloud infrastructure, widespread remote work setups, accelerated development timelines, insufficient validation processes, and heightened software complexity. Collectively, these factors present numerous openings for cyber attackers to exploit.

As hybrid networks expand in size and complexity, the attack surface expands, increasing the likelihood of experiencing a cyberattack. An organization requires comprehensive visibility into vulnerabilities across its environment and needs to achieve this efficiently. However, the production of reports is often a manual and time-consuming process. Additionally, determining whether the focus is on remediating the riskiest vulnerabilities with the greatest potential impact on the business can be challenging.

Organizations must find ways to manage their cyber exposure more effectively in a world of heightened risk. It is imperative for security teams to handle and mitigate their cyber exposure adeptly. The number of vulnerabilities listed in the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) nearly reached 200,000 at the beginning of 2023. The emergence of new vulnerabilities is escalating rapidly - NVD reported an addition of over 25,000 vulnerabilities in 2022, signifying a 25% surge compared to the preceding year. Vulnerabilities aren't just increasing; they're surging at an unprecedented pace.

Shifting From Conventional Responses

Amid the exponential rise in vulnerabilities, a stark reality emerges: the era of addressing every single vulnerability has become obsolete.

The sheer volume of vulnerabilities surpasses the capacity to fix them all, rendering the conventional response - often a mix of impromptu vulnerability scans, spreadsheet tracking, and periodic patching cycles - ineffective in meeting this formidable challenge.

This is why more and more organizations are looking for vulnerability management solutions to help them address this challenge. However, not all vulnerability management solutions are created equal.

The Five Stages of Comprehensive Vulnerability Management

A comprehensive vulnerability management program integrates technologies across five distinct stages:

1.    Assess:   This phase involves compiling an exhaustive inventory encompassing assets, endpoints, servers, network devices, cloud infrastructure, applications, and users essential for inclusion within the vulnerability management program.     

2.    Discover:   Here, aggregated security data from various sources, such as vulnerability scans and threat intelligence feeds, is overlaid to unveil comprehensive insights.

3.    Prioritize:   Quantifying cyber risks based on individual exposures takes precedence in this phase, allowing for the prioritization of resources to maximize effectiveness in addressing vulnerabilities.

4.    Remediate:   Choosing the most suitable remediation methods is pivotal in this stage. If a complete resolution isn't viable, selecting from an array of compensating controls becomes necessary.

5.    Report:   Effectiveness evaluations of remediation efforts and communication of risk levels to pertinent stakeholders form the core focus of this phase, ensuring transparent and informed decision-making.

Strategic Prioritization For Cyber Resilience

This strategic prioritization empowers efficient allocation of resources, ensuring that critical vulnerabilities receive immediate attention, reducing the likelihood and impact of potential cyber threats.

Organizations can use this comprehensive strategy to identify vulnerabilities more effectively and execute tailored remediation plans while providing clear and transparent reporting mechanisms. This approach ensures a systematic and efficient response to the evolving threat landscape, enhancing overall cyber resilience.

Howard Goodman is Technical Director at Skybox Security

Image: Shubham Dhage

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