But for the sake of simplicity and ease of reference let's take a look at vulnerability management in 6 simple stages.
Once these 6 stages have been outlined you'll be better able to understand the processes involved and make sense of what could otherwise be a complex and highly technical area.
In essence, security issues in computer networks arise very quickly and as soon as a vulnerability has been detected there is a lag between detection and patching the problem.
It is within this time frame that exploitation of your system can occur, so the most important factor after early detection is protection of the system.
Software developers and providers of protective software like antivirus and Malware protection need to develop patches as soon as possible to protect the integrity of their products.
It is the same with any computer network but because you are not in a position to apply patches, you are limited to ensuring that your system is not further infected in the meantime.
- The first step in vulnerability management therefore is implementation of continuous analysis of the IT environment.
This means that, after you have identified all of your computer assets, you have software that monitors each asset and provides continuous reporting and will raise alerts once a threat has been identified.
- In order to analyse the processes and monitor what is happening, a vulnerability management team needs to be established so that responsibility for maintenance can be delegated to the most appropriate person in the organisation.
The team could be a stand-alone unit or members of the team could be seconded from other areas of the organisation on a needs basis.
- Designing and implementing the actual framework should normally be undertaken by professionally skilled or outsourced team.
Off-the-shelf software systems, or open source programs, may leave much to be desired because every network will have its own idiosyncrasies which need to be accounted for.
- Following on from the above point, tools and solutions will need to be customised to suit the environment into which they are to be introduced.
This simply means that a solution needs to be tailored to suit.
This is a process which will need to be updated on a regular basis so that ongoing solutions can be developed and adapted as business needs change.
- Once the implementation has been completed, ongoing training is a vital part of any vulnerability management plan.
Systems need to be monitored and staff skills need to be updated on a continuous basis to ensure that the system's integrity is maintained.
- The final stage of the plan is to keep staff aware of threats as they occur and to use live examples in a methodical way so that staff awareness is developed and becomes more acute with each threat.