Vulnerability management presents a broad spectrum of opportunities to improve your digital protections, but to make the most of your management strategy, you need to know your network inside and out. What assets are hackers the most likely to go after? What functionalities are most at-risk during a cyberattack? And what can you do to minimize collateral damage?
Experts report that 81% of recent security issues take advantage of network vulnerabilities—that can refer to anything from untrained employees falling victim to phishing to neglecting endpoint security realities. Good IT security is holistic in its purview, encompassing all potential weaknesses, but leadership teams have to prioritize; that means developing strategies that can grow and evolve with ever-changing threat landscapes.
But that’s not all—dedicated readers of our blog will know that there’s a new pressing topic every week, be it the aftermath of the devastating SolarWinds attack or the pitfalls of physical security. The IT security world moves fast, and however malleable your security strategy, it’s absolutely critical to review emerging threats and adjust your approach accordingly.
So what sort of strategies should you be starting with?
The Top 5 Tenets of an Effective Vulnerability Management Plan
1. Look Where You Normally Wouldn’t
While we often keep our eyes on our most precious digital assets, for malicious actors, anything can be an in. That’s why updates and contingencies are a crucial element of IT security and crisis response—so much so that they should be built into your organization’s digital infrastructure.
Incorporating new protocols into your existing system is a good opportunity to ensure every aspect of that system is up to date, including the software unrelated to security protocols, where hackers may seek a less-than-obvious pathway in. Additionally, experts suggest investing in system-wide backups on secure external servers and preventative strategies for data protection—while hackers will do their best to catch you off-guard, they’ll have to contend with the protocols you already have in place. Which brings us to…
2. Watch Assets Hackers (Not Necessarily You) Value
It may be relative, but most organizations deal with high-value assets in one form or another. If you’re a hospital or healthcare provider, chances are hackers will go after your patient health information (PHI). If you’re a bank or other financial entity, account numbers and user credentials are as good as gold.
What are your highest value assets, and how can you protect them? While organizational leaders can easily point to your company’s most critical systems and data, it’s up to IT leaders to stay atop of current risk fronts, which don’t always follow expected trends. Experts suggest asset tracking systems to document the most sought-after data in your network—which may surprise you, since hackers often value things that differ from what business leaders value.
3. Shut Out Encroaching Threats
It also means keeping up with the patches and updates released for your software—but proceed with caution. System-wide applications can be subject to strains of malware you won’t detect until they’re downloaded into your system, so vulnerability scanning should include those patches and updates in their purview.
There’s closing the door to malicious actors, and then there’s double-locking it. Scanning for vulnerabilities is a cost-effective and fairly straight-forward method of detecting your system’s Achilles heel at any given moment, but efficacy depends upon scanning frequently, and definitively on-demand when an issue is suspected.
4. Strategize Beyond Hope
Every system vulnerability is one attack away from becoming a critical incident to your organization, so you need to treat it as such. As is often said, hope is not a strategy, so don’t wait until an emergency arises. Allocate resources now to address potential weaknesses quickly and efficiently so your organization never leaves IT security issues to chance.
Not only will this approach keep your vulnerability management plan airtight, it will also do its part to normalize IT security in your workplace culture. Maintaining IT security as a priority, and cyber-risks as a prominent threat, will help your employees to be more conscious of their part in your company’s human firewall.
5. Partner Up With Frontline Experts
With the assistance of a highly qualified external IT security partner, you can develop and enhance your security protocols and ensure your systems are correctly configured (which is a bigger risk than you might expect). Providers can also run routine and on-demand scans, which are a significant part of managing vulnerabilities.
While network vulnerabilities are an expansive part of the IT security world, you don’t have to navigate them alone. As a valuable enhancement to our IT Security Assessment, BAI Security recommends a Network Vulnerability Assessment, designed to provide cost-effective, year-round protection with real-time solutions for whatever problems we detect. Our best-in-class tools can scan your network 24/7-365, followed by our expert security engineers formulating the best solutions for your unique environment.
To protect your network year-round, contact us today.