Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM): How to Manage and Recognise Vulnerability Overload

Discover how to manage and recognise vulnerability overload in your organisation. Learn about the risks of too many security weaknesses and effective strategies for proactive cybersecurity measures to safeguard your business.
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Organisations face a significant challenge: an overload of vulnerabilities. In this context, Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) offers a strategic approach to manage these vulnerabilities effectively. It’s like having an ever-growing to-do list. However, relying solely on compliance checkboxes isn’t sufficient.

Vulnerability overload refers to a situation where there are too many security weaknesses in a system or organisation. Let’s break it down:

Imagine your organisation’s digital landscape—systems, applications, data, networks, and devices. Each of these has vulnerabilities, like cracks in a fortress wall. When there are too many of these vulnerabilities, it’s like having too many cracks to patch. Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) provides a method for prioritising these cracks based on their risk to your organisation’s security.

How Mid-Sized Businesses and Cloud Adoptions Can Create Cybersecurity Risks

Firstly, consider a mid-sized business that starts operations without a clear cybersecurity strategy. By not prioritising security infrastructure, they leave themselves vulnerable to attacks. It’s akin to building a castle without a protective wall—the cracks start to appear that we mentioned before—making it easy for attackers to breach. The solution lies in business leaders recognising the importance of a comprehensive security plan and helping them implement it.

Next, take a company that rapidly adopts Microsoft Teams and Office 365 but overlooks data collaboration policies. Trusting cloud providers to handle security, they risk unsecured networks and misconfigured cloud services. For instance, a simple misconfiguration like an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket can expose sensitive data globally. To mitigate this, continuous monitoring for cloud applications is essential, alongside educating businesses on proper cloud security practices.

It’s crucial to recognise that these vulnerabilities impact everyone within a business, from senior management to the IT team. Proactive cybersecurity measures are indispensable for safeguarding business continuity and protecting against cyber threats.

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What is the Impact of Vulnerability Overload?

  • Risk Exposure: More vulnerabilities mean more potential entry points for cyberattacks.
  • Overwhelmed Defenses: Security teams struggle to keep up.

The Risks of Ignoring Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Ignoring cybersecurity vulnerabilities can have serious consequences for individuals and organisations. 

In 2024, the UK Government Cyber Security Breaches Survey revealed that 70% of mid-sized UK businesses had suffered a cyber-attack or security breach in the previous 12 months. However, proactive vulnerability management practices like penetration testing, patching, and monitoring are not universally adopted, leaving gaps. The costs of breaches can be substantial

Gov.uk Department for Science, Innovation & Technology

Here are the risks in plain English:

  • Data Breaches: Ignoring vulnerabilities can lead to data breaches, resulting in identity theft and financial fraud. Failing to address vulnerabilities leaves your digital assets exposed.
  • Reputation Damage: Trust is fragile. A single cyber mishap—like a breach or data leak—can shatter customer confidence. Customers may hesitate to do business with you if they perceive your security practices as lax.
  • Financial Losses: Ignoring vulnerabilities can be costly. The aftermath of a breach involves not only recovery expenses but also lost sales and potential legal fees. It’s like neglecting home maintenance—eventually, the repairs become more expensive.
  • Evolving Threats: Cybersecurity is an ongoing battle. New vulnerabilities emerge, and attackers adapt. Ignoring them is like ignoring a leaky roof during a storm—it gets worse over time.

In summary, addressing vulnerabilities promptly is crucial for safeguarding data, maintaining trust, and avoiding financial setbacks. 

What is Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM)?

Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) is a cybersecurity approach that focuses on identifying and remediating vulnerabilities based on the actual risk they pose to an organisation. 

Traditional Vulnerability Management focuses on finding and assessing vulnerabilities using a single, generic risk score. However, this approach has limitations as it treats all vulnerabilities equally, without considering their potential impact. 

Modern Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM):

RBVM takes a sophisticated approach beyond generic scores by considering multiple factors:

  • Business Criticality: How important is the asset affected by the vulnerability?
  • Reachability: Can the vulnerability be exploited remotely?
  • Exploit Maturity: Is there known exploit code?
  • Runtime Context: What’s happening when the vulnerability is triggered?
  • CVSS Score: A standard severity score.
  • EPSS: Environmental factors specific to the organisation.

RBVM prioritises the most immediate and critical risks.

When Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) is implemented, it acts like an ever-watchful security camera. RBVM provides continuous visibility and assesses risks, identifying vulnerabilities in your system before they become major issues. Instead of fixing all vulnerabilities, RBVM ensures you strengthen the ones that pose the greatest risk to your business’s data security and stability.

Enhancing Cyber Strategy with Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM)

Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) strengthens a comprehensive cyber strategy by prioritising vulnerabilities according to their specific risks, ensuring focused mitigation efforts and alignment with evolving threats.

RBVM enhances accuracy through the use of threat intelligence and data-driven decisions to proactively address critical vulnerabilities. It optimises resources, enabling IT teams to concentrate on essential areas despite limitations. This strategic approach aligns security efforts with business impact.

In essence, RBVM ensures organisations focus on the most significant vulnerabilities, making informed decisions to safeguard against cyber risks, ensuring strategic prioritisation. It’s a proactive approach that contributes to comprehensive data protection in mid-sized businesses.

Taking a Holistic, Integrated Approach to Data Protection

A comprehensive approach to data protection in mid-sized businesses involves looking at all aspects of safeguarding sensitive information. Instead of focusing solely on individual security measures, this holistic approach considers the entire lifecycle of data—from its collection and storage to its use and sharing.

The benefits of this approach are significant: it builds trust with customers by handling data ethically and securely, thereby increasing confidence. It also mitigates risks such as data breaches and fines, protecting brand reputation. Moreover, by integrating responsible AI practices, businesses ensure that AI models are trained on ethical and unbiased data, leading to exceptional customer experiences.

In essence, this holistic approach integrates data protection deeply into the organisation’s operations, aligning ethics, privacy, security, and responsible AI for comprehensive safeguarding of sensitive information.

How to Start to Reduce Vulnerability Overwhelm

So, what’s the solution? The Tenable Risk-Based Vulnerability Management Solution is built upon the five-step Cyber Exposure Lifecycle, which helps you continuously improve your security program. Applying the solution via this lifecycle will help you get complete visibility into your attack surface and prioritise your remediation efforts based on the 3% of vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to your organisation – reducing your cyber risk over time. 

You can get started with risk-based vulnerability management today by booking a demo or upgrading from traditional VM to managing cyber risk with Tenable’s risk-based vulnerability management solutions.

Stronger Together: Combining Technologies for an Interlinked Cyber Security Strategy

Join us for an exclusive webinar on Wed, Jul 24, 2024, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM where we reveal integrated strategies to protect your data and endpoints against sophisticated threats. Hear from solution experts at Tenable, Sophos, and Sumo Logic, and discover how their latest technologies can fortify your enterprise against vulnerabilities and ensure data security across all environments.

Join the conversation to learn from experts and participate in live Q&A sessions.

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ABOUT TENABLE Tenable® is the Exposure Management company. Approximately 43,000 organizations around the globe rely on Tenable to understand and reduce cyber risk. As the creator of Nessus®, Tenable extended its expertise in vulnerabilities to deliver the world’s first platform to see and secure any digital asset on any computing platform. Tenable customers include approximately 60 percent of the Fortune 500, approximately 40 percent of the Global 2000, and large government agencies. Learn more at tenable.com