Vulnerabilities are often the precursor to a cyber attack. In the most basic sense, a vulnerability is a weakness in a piece of software, a computer or a network. When exploited, they allow hackers to perform malicious activities. Exploited vulnerabilities can lead to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, data loss or a malware infection. You can prevent cyber attacks such as these, however, by engaging in vulnerability management.
What Is Vulnerability Management?
Vulnerability management is a cybersecurity process that revolves around the identification, mitigation and removal of vulnerabilities. You can’t expect to defend against cyber attacks unless you know which vulnerabilities are affecting your devices and network. With vulnerability management, you can identify these vulnerabilities in hopes of either mitigating or removing them. Vulnerability management is a multistep process that encompasses the identification, mitigation and removal of vulnerabilities.
Some of the most common types of vulnerabilities include the following:
- Outdated software
- Open ports
- Poor software configurations
- Weak passwords
- Default admin usernames
- Default network passwords
How to Perform Vulnerability Management
There are different ways to perform vulnerability management. You can perform it manually, for instance, by checking your devices and network for weaknesses that could, if left unchecked, lead to a cyber attack.
There are also cybersecurity tools available for vulnerability management. Known as a vulnerability scanner, they are designed to scan devices and networks for vulnerabilities. You can run a vulnerability scanner to find vulnerabilities on your devices or network.
Most vulnerabilities support two types of scans: authenticated and unauthenticated. Authenticated scans are those that connect via a Secure Shell (SSH) or other secure connection. Unauthenticated scans are those that that connect via a standard, unencrypted connection. Authenticated scans are typically more effective, as they trigger fewer false positives. If you’re going to use a vulnerability scanner, you should consider choosing one that supports authenticated scans.
Vulnerability Management vs Vulnerability Assessment: What’s the Difference?
It’s important to note that vulnerability management isn’t the same as a vulnerability assessment. While they are both cybersecurity processes that focus on vulnerabilities, the former is a more comprehensive than the latter.
A vulnerability assessment is simply an analysis of vulnerabilities. It involves the identification, prioritization and classification of vulnerabilities. In comparison, vulnerability management goes one step further by including the mitigation and removal of vulnerabilities. If you regularly perform vulnerability management, you won’t need to conduct a vulnerability assessment. Vulnerability management is simply a more comprehensive and effective way to deal with vulnerabilities.
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