Cybersecurity threats make vulnerability remediation a necessary part of IT infrastructure. The best practices should involve policies, tools, and steps that defend against attacks while strengthening the system. Vulnerability remediation helps reduce risk, but only if you leverage it to its full potential using industry best practices.
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Understand vulnerability management vs. remediation
Understanding the difference between vulnerability management and remediation helps businesses better understand the best practices. Vulnerability management focuses on analyzing and managing your network’s threats. The management sphere also includes finding and eliminating threats.
On the other hand, vulnerability remediation is the process of reducing threats. Often, the remediation team looks closely at what happens during patch management, as those processes often create weaknesses for a short time.
Know your organization’s infrastructure
Before you can protect your IT infrastructure, you’ve got to know what you have. Best practices should include mapping out your infrastructure, including the hardware, software, and cloud components, using a flowchart to see relationships. Don’t forget to include your idle systems, as they can still create vulnerabilities even when not in use.
While building the map, include the people who manage the technology, so you know who can help during an attack. Ensure your map has all relevant connections to analyze how a potential hacker could move through your network.
Decide how to scan your system
Businesses have several vulnerability detectors at their disposal, but not all of them are ideal for every company. Choosing the right scanner helps you find the vulnerabilities, but you’ve also got to know how to scan your system.
A top choice for many businesses is to invest in a continuous scanner. For most companies, it’s a matter of when the hackers arrive, so being on the lookout at all times makes sense. Continual scanners proactively monitor the system to watch for real-time cybersecurity threats.
Some businesses can’t regularly scan because of the financial burden it creates. If your business cannot afford continual scanning, figure out what interval fits into your budget.
Other businesses set up their scanners to look for internal and external weaknesses. Business systems connect to outside sources, which can open hacking opportunities. It’s essential to find those weaknesses to catch hackers as they move laterally from an external system to your system.
Businesses also need to monitor their internal weaknesses. While scanning internally, the best practice is to use authenticated software. This type of software looks closely at all devices and software in your network. Once you set up your internal scans, take time to arrange for authentication protocols for everyone who accesses your software, even external users.
Choose a high-quality scanning system
When looking for a quality scanning system, search for a specific collection of traits. The best scanning tools should be user-friendly so all team members can use them without extensive training. The repetitive steps should be automated so users can focus on other more complex tasks.
The technology in the scanner should be cutting-edge. Engineers constantly have to change the software to reflect the latest hacking knowledge. You can’t save your data from tomorrow’s hackers with yesterday’s software.
You’ll need to decide where to put your scanning tools. If you put it in the wrong place, you’ll receive misinformation that only creates more vulnerabilities. It’s also worthwhile to investigate the false-positive rates because those could create unnecessary alarms and wasted resources. The most accurate software tends to be the most helpful.
Your scanning tool should also have options to create comprehensive reports with data and vulnerabilities clearly expressed. If the scanning tool cannot helpfully share information, you’ll want to choose one that can.
Involve your entire organization
While your company’s IT professionals do most of the work during vulnerability management and remediation, your entire company needs to be involved. Team members need to know how their online behaviors can put the company’s computer systems at risk. Most cybercrimes happen because of how employees use their company’s technology.
Of course, employees don’t intentionally let hackers into the system. Less cyber security-savvy employees need to be aware of the mistakes that allow hackers to access sensitive information. Employees need to know best practices for creating passwords and how to secure their Wi-Fi at home, so they can prevent hacking while working remotely.
The IT department should also help employees understand what phishing emails look like and how to keep online behavior safe. Regular staff training sessions can help everyone understand how to be safe online.
Know how to handle patch management safely
Hackers often access systems during patch management protocols. Before running another patch, IT experts should develop a patch management protocol that keeps the system safe. IT experts should also test the system while using an environment that mimics the architecture to see if the patch is compatible.
Once IT team members determine the patch is compatible with the system, the IT staff should investigate what happens if the patch is installed then removed. The system should continue to work even if the patch is uninstalled.
If the patch and the system are compatible, the next step is to inventory the software and hardware that needs the patch. While creating the inventory, IT should know what systems have undergone testing. The inventory also needs a schedule so IT can keep track of when the patches will deploy.
The IT staff can watch the deployment to find issues that require mitigation. At this point, the IT department should follow its disaster protocol and remove the patch. Finally, IT should check how well the patch functions and if the remediation works.
Preventing hackers from accessing sensitive information is a task that every business needs to manage. When it comes to cybersecurity threats, it’s a matter of if, not when. Following the golden standard for vulnerability remediation practices can help keep your data safe.