Vulnerability Management: A key strategy for enhanced cybersecurity

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Businesses today cannot run without technology. Knowledge workers rely on cloud computing and digital collaboration to complete even the most basic elements of their work. As this trend continues, Gartner estimates that IT spending in Australia will exceed $133 billion in 2024, a 7.8% increase from 2023, with software spending expected to see the largest growth at 12.8%.

This reliance on digital platforms for operations, customer interactions, and data management has made cybersecurity a critical concern. As businesses digitise further, the attack surface increases and cyber-attacks or data breaches become likelier.

Vulnerability management is one method for identifying, analysing and protecting digital assets against cyber-attacks. This blog covers the key areas that vulnerability management targets and how it strengthens cybersecurity.

What does vulnerability management cover?

Vulnerability management encompasses five key practices that strengthen your business against threats. It involves:

  • Risk visualisation: You cannot make decisions about cybersecurity until you know the specific risks. Vulnerability management identifies and categorises risks to your business so that you can allocate security resources effectively.
  • Analysing vulnerabilities: Gain a unified view of vulnerabilities, configuration issues, and compliance violations to drive an integrated security strategy.
  • Proactively detect and patch vulnerabilities: Threat actors often use known vulnerabilities in hardware and software to launch attacks. Updating and patching systems consistently addresses vulnerabilities quickly.
  • Identifying all assets connected to your network: Identifying and cataloguing all technology assets in a network ensures comprehensive security coverage. As more people work from home or in transit, you must have visibility over all hardware and software accessing your business data.
  • Scanning internal and external networks: Thorough scans identify weaknesses within and outside your business network.

A cost-effective approach to cybersecurity

In the 2023 financial year, cybercrime cost Australian small businesses an average of $46,000 and medium businesses $97,200. Vulnerability management prevents your business from incurring these costs and provides a more cost-effective solution than dealing with issues as they arise.

Vulnerability management reduces the high costs of data breaches and system downtime by proactively addressing security weaknesses. This proactive approach is more economical than the financial impacts of a cyber-attack, which can include significant remediation costs and long-term damage to reputation and customer trust.

Comparing the costs of vulnerability management with potential losses from cyber-attacks further underscores its cost-effectiveness. Cyber-attacks can lead to considerable financial losses due to data recovery, legal liabilities, and revenue loss during downtime. In contrast, vulnerability management is a predictable, manageable expense focused on preventing the costs of a data breach or attack.

A cost-effective approach to cybersecurity

Source: ASD.

Improved visibility and reporting

Vulnerability management enhances visibility over network vulnerabilities by identifying and cataloguing these with in-depth reporting. This visibility is essential in a hybrid work environment where people might use personal devices to access work apps or unapproved software to complete tasks. We call this shadow IT, and it creates myriad problems for security teams by introducing unknown risks.

Vulnerability management tools identify all devices and systems on the business network, including employee-used software. They continuously scan devices and software for vulnerabilities so cybersecurity teams can update network security when necessary and quickly respond to new issues.

With this understanding, cybersecurity leaders can accurately assess risks and prioritise critical issues. With detailed insights into network vulnerabilities, decision-makers can allocate resources and strategies for future security challenges, leading to a more secure and resilient network.

Supports cybersecurity compliance efforts

First, it is important to note that vulnerability management does not mean your organisation automatically maintains compliance. It is merely one tool available to support your efforts to comply with frameworks relevant to your business.

For example, the Essential Eight Maturity Model specifies patching applications and operating systems as measures an organisation should take to improve security. Vulnerability management focuses on detecting and patching assets connected to your network and can support you in meeting those aspects of the Essential Eight.

Vulnerability management also involves regular scans and assessments to identify and address configuration issues and compliance violations that could risk customer and company data. Detailed reports on the gaps in your strategy provide critical information when aligning your business with compliance requirements.’

Supports cybersecurity compliance efforts

Automatically scanning for potential issues

In FY2022, the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Annual Cyber Threat Report noted a 25% increase in publicly reported software vulnerabilities from the previous year. This increase underscores the need for effective vulnerability management, with a focus on patch management to address software vulnerabilities.

Patch management removes software vulnerabilities from an organisation. Vulnerability management automates part of this process by identifying and notifying teams of vulnerabilities that require attention. Identifying and patching these reduces the chances of threat actors exploiting these through zero-day attacks. 

Automated scanning allows for continuous monitoring and immediate response to new vulnerabilities, ensuring that security measures align with the latest threats as they arise.

Automatically scanning for potential issues

Conclusion

Vulnerability management is one measure that helps your business enhance cybersecurity. It encompasses essential practices like risk visualisation, vulnerability analysis, proactive patching, asset identification and network scanning. This multifaceted approach bolsters security and offers a cost-effective solution to reduce the high expenses associated with cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Additionally, vulnerability management can support your efforts in aligning with compliance frameworks. While it is not the sole solution for compliance, it provides insights needed when meeting obligations and avoiding penalties for non-compliance.

Why choose Productiv’s vulnerability management services?

We help you enhance cybersecurity with a strategy-oriented approach to vulnerability management. We find unseen vulnerabilities that could expose your network to threats that cause financial and reputational damage. Our solutions combine cutting-edge technology with expert guidance that proactively addresses potential weaknesses before they become critical issues.

Our solution delivers comprehensive detection and effective vulnerability management that provides actionable insights to navigate the complexities of today’s threats. Visit our Vulnerability Management page for more details and to request a consultation.