Vulnerability Management (VM) is a proactive approach to identify, manage, and mitigate vulnerabilities to improve the security of enterprise applications, software, and devices. The approach involves identifying vulnerabilities in IT assets, evaluating risk, and taking appropriate action across systems or networks to remediate these vulnerabilities.

Ideally, this means proactively scanning the environment looking for vulnerabilities and systematically patching the identified vulnerabilities as they are found. However, the process is rarely as simple or straightforward as that. A solid vulnerability management program is important for several reasons:

Security: A good program helps organizations identify and address weaknesses within their IT infrastructure. By proactively identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities, organizations can reduce the risk of breaches and cyber attacks.

Compliance: Many regulatory requirements and industry standards require organizations to have a vulnerability management program in place. For example, the Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) all mandate regular vulnerability assessments and remediation.

Risk Reduction: By regularly assessing and mitigating vulnerabilities, organizations can reduce their exposure to potential threats and the associated financial and reputational risks.

Operations Continuity: Vulnerabilities can lead to system failures and unscheduled downtime, which are disruptive to business operations. Identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities before they can be exploited maintains continuity and avoids costly disruptions.

Data Protection: Protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or theft is paramount in avoiding data breaches that can potentially incur legal and financial consequences.

Cost Savings: The cost of addressing vulnerabilities is typically much lower than the cost of dealing with a security breach.

Compliance with Best Practices: The implementation/adoption of a vulnerability management program aligns with common industry standards and best practices such as ISO 27001, NIST, and the CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls). These standards and practices ensure vulnerabilities are monitored and addressed.

The fact remains that there are many questions to be considered when dealing with vulnerabilities. The most important is where to start. Begin with creating a solid vulnerability management program. Take a proactive approach to identify and address vulnerabilities before they are exploited vs. taking a reactive approach by responding to security incidents after they occur.

What type of VM program does the organization currently have? Most organizations fall into one of the following three types: Headline driven VM programs have a drop everything and fix {current headline vulnerability here, such as “Log4J”, or “Heartbleed”} approach. Compliance driven VM programs tend to pick a compliance program (NIST) and start at the top and work their way down. Qualitative driven programs tend to focus on a particular set of vulnerabilities, such as let’s fix all the database vulnerabilities this month, or lets address all the Microsoft vulnerabilities before any others.

There are benefits and concerns with each of these types and Tenable can help by tying the organization's VM program to Cyber Risk with Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM). Legacy VM programs tend to address traditional IT assets only, they are reactive and only check the minimum compliance boxes. RBVM prioritizes vulnerability data with threat intelligence, delivers dynamic continuous visibility of the entire attach surface, and is proactive. Proactively staying ahead of emerging threats keeps systems and data more secure, prevents data breaches, and avoids costly disruptions.