How to Prepare Your Security Team For The Future Of Vulnerability Management

Meaningful and lasting change takes time. Overcoming the momentum of how your security team currently operates is best accomplished by incremental course corrections.

Today is the best time to begin identifying adjustments that will help your team prepare for the future of vulnerability management. 

In this article, I’ll discuss how organizations can prepare their security teams for the future of vulnerability management. Beginning with a snapshot of what I believe the future will bring, then offer some actionable recommendations to help teams prepare for what’s to come. 

What the Future of Vulnerability Management Looks Like

Users are increasingly becoming frustrated with the various commercial vulnerability scanners and the manual process surrounding them. Security teams allocate a significant portion of their precious human resources to performing mandatory configuration audits and network scans. They often fall short as they attempt to verify and address all reported vulnerabilities because they can never get to them all. 

To be efficient and effective, teams need to embrace the idea that not all vulnerabilities are created equal and adopt risk-based vulnerability prioritization, automated tools, and effective controls. Vulnerability scanning is not a control; it is a tool that is part of a control.

In essence, the goal is to scan less and patch less, but scan and patch with a purpose. 

Because vulnerability management is but a subset of the broader configuration management practice, in the future, organizations will absorb the more restrictive label of vulnerability management into the larger configuration management category. Automated tools can perform both functions, so there will be no need to differentiate between the two processes. 

Automated insights generated by modern tools will primarily be about context-rich information unique to each organization. Teams will view threats and vulnerabilities through the lens of how they fit in the context of the user’s unique environment, assets, and controls. 

Just as innovative technology has blurred the line between vulnerability management and configuration management, it has also obscured the distinction between application and infrastructure vulnerability management. One process will address the deficiencies of both. 

Advanced solutions will automate vulnerability discovery, prioritization, and remediation. Risk-based tools built on machine learning will effectively manage and automate the process end-to-end. 

Actionable Tips to Prepare for the Future

Gain visibility: It is crucial to know your assets. Cloud adoption allows customers more agility and velocity in leveraging cloud-scale, and they can turn on and off assets with ease. Not knowing where your assets are and how critical those assets are to the organization will become the most significant blind spots in the future of vulnerability management.

Focus on sound principles: The celebrity vulnerability du jour warrants news headlines for a reason, so don’t ignore them. It’s essential to understand your organization’s exposure to high-profile vulnerabilities, but it’s also critical to focus on sound principles of vulnerability management hygiene. 

Report trends over time: Security teams are accustomed to counting and reporting the number of critical, high, medium, and low vulnerabilities identified and remediated to leadership. To better tell the story of the value your team provides, report trending data to show the results of your efforts. 

Be goal oriented: Because your environment is unique, comparing your accomplishments to industry peer groups, while valuable and informative, does not tell the whole story. Shift your focus to the unique vulnerability management goals you have identified for your organization, then measure and report what’s relevant and meaningful to you. 

The Future is Bright - For Those Who Evolve

There is much to be said about using the present to create the future you want. By understanding the criticality of your organization’s assets, you open the door to having a context-rich risk-based solution. From this foundation, you can build a vulnerability management strategy that promotes good hygiene, ensures your team understands what’s really a threat to your organization, and supports meaningful reporting. 

Preparing for the future should be an incremental process that moves your organization ever closer to the goal of using vulnerability assessments and risk assessments to more efficiently and effectively prioritize remediations and other cybersecurity activities. To effectively prioritize and orchestrate your cybersecurity vulnerabilities requires technology that is capable of centralizing siloed and fragmented systems. 

Conclusion 

The future of vulnerability management is full of promise and possibilities. There have been many challenges to overcome in the past, and many organizations have done an admirable job of overcoming them. Still, innovation is alive and well.

For organizations that grasp a future vision and begin to prepare for it now, configuration and vulnerability management will evolve to be an integral part of their business risk management plan.

Lisa Xu is CEO of the risk-based vulnerability management platform NopSec.

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