We keep repeating this, because it bears repeating: Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues facing businesses in today’s technological world. Business size, resources, location, and other characteristics are almost irrelevant. From small, individualized breaches to worldwide ransomware attacks, the scope of cybersecurity compromises has risen dramatically throughout the last decade.

This trend has led to the need for organizations of every size to establish strategies to enhance cybersecurity and combat attacks. One such approach is known as vulnerability management (VM), which focuses on identifying threats and reducing exposure rather than merely reacting to incidents. In broad business terms, this approach differs from the old quality control systems (detecting problems as they happened or early in their appearance, thereby containing potential crises) and is more like the newer quality assurance approach (putting measures in place to assure the prevention of problems occurring at all). Quality assurance approaches include expeditious handling of issues that occur, but they focus on identifying potential systemic weaknesses and strengthening them in order to prevent issues from the start.

How is this done? What does this mean in practical terms? How can even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) employ a sufficiently robust VM plan?

The following are a few answers to these key questions:

Treat the Issue as More than Just a Requirement

Too many companies approach cybersecurity in general, and vulnerability management in particular, as an item on a checklist – a chore that must be done. These companies perform an annual scan and often use outdated or mismatched software systems. Treating cybersecurity simply as a requirement leads to inadequate protection and a never-ending cycle of escalating issues over which they never gain full control. Solving a serious problem requires seeing it as a serious problem and then treating it as such.

Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans 

Solid VM programs involve much more than just threat-detection scans. They do employ regular scans (at least quarterly) using up-to-date systems, but they also include additional elements, such as root-cause analysis, tracking, remediation, and detailed reporting. Without such comprehensive essentials, businesses leave themselves open to risks that can be eliminated systematically.

Consider Both Authenticated and Unauthenticated Scanning

Unauthenticated scanning is a simple scanning process through which devices are scanned remotely to determine exposed vulnerabilities. Authenticated scanning goes one step further and logs into the system with a valid user account. Using authenticated scanning can identify system configuration issues, as well as embedded vulnerabilities that simple scanning cannot catch.

Use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)

The CVSS uses a calculation metric to assign severity scores to vulnerabilities. The three core areas analyzed are: base metrics (qualities that are intrinsic to a vulnerability), temporal metrics (vulnerabilities that evolve over time), and environmental metrics (vulnerabilities that require specific implementation or a particular environment). This allows organizations to prioritize their responses in an intentional, meaningful, and productive manner and avoid the tendency to spend disproportionate time and resources on minor threats.

Fix the Issues That Cause Vulnerability

Scans merely identify threats. Most companies do nothing more than remove the threats discovered by their scanning measures. What they fail to do is fix the core issue that allowed the threat into their systems in the first place. Thus, the same threats often reappear, are discovered by future scans, are removed once again, and the cycle continues. Eliminating the entry portal exploited continually by the threat closes the existing security gap and stops this cycle of entrance and removal, which altogether eliminates the risk posed by the threat.

If Necessary, Outsource Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management can be overwhelming, especially for SMBs with limited technical expertise and limited budgets. Just as outsourcing HR, legal, or security services can be beneficial, partnering with an established, knowledgeable Managed Security Services company can be a perfect, cost-effective solution to such a daunting task.