Risk-based vulnerability management

Risk-based vulnerability management doesn’t ask “How do we fix everything?” It merely asks, “What do we actually need to fix?” A series of research reports from the Cyentia Institute have answered that question in a number of ways, finding for example, that attackers are more likely to develop exploits for some vulnerabilities than others.

Research has shown that, on average, about 5 percent of vulnerabilities actually pose a serious security risk. Common triage strategies, like patching every vulnerability with a CVSS score above 7 were, in fact, no better than chance at reducing risk.

But now we can say that companies using RBVM programs are patching a higher percentage of their high-risk vulnerabilities. That means they are doing more, and there’s less wasted effort. (Which is especially good because patch management is resource constrained.)

The time it took companies to patch half of their high-risk vulnerabilities was 158 days in 2019. This year, it was 27 days.

And then there is another measure of success. Companies start vulnerability management programs with massive backlogs of vulnerabilities, and the number of vulnerabilities only grows each year. Last year, about two-thirds of companies using a risk-based system reduced their vulnerability debt or were at least treading water. This year, that number rose to 71 percent.

When a company discloses that their networks have been breached and that their data has been stolen or encrypted for ransom, there is a steady drumbeat of critics. The company, these critics contend, is somehow at fault. Its security team didn’t do EVERYTHING it could have to prevent the breach. The proof of this doesn’t lie in knowledge of what preventative steps the security team did, but in the fact that it got breached. Victim blaming was alive and well in cybersecurity.

Thankfully, this mindset is fading away. But when cybersecurity companies with risk-based approaches began entering the market, they faced headwinds from the security nihilism crowd who thought if you can’t fix everything, then “why bother?”

We can now say that, when it comes to vulnerability management – a complex, yet fundamental cybersecurity discipline – the risk-based approach has produced clear results. The proof is in the data.

Enterprises that use risk-based approaches to vulnerability management are getting faster and smarter at this foundational cybersecurity discipline. They are doing less work and seeing more impactful security improvements. It’s encouraging to see these year-over-year improvements and we believe this trend is likely to continue.

Risk Based Vulnerability Management 

Risk Based Vulnerability Management A Complete Guide - 2019 Edition by [Gerardus Blokdyk]