Vulnerability Assessments Strategy: Identifying and Prioritizing System Risks

Undetected vulnerabilities provide gateways for data breaches and outages. By regularly assessing systems and prioritizing remediation using risk analysis, organizations can identify and address security gaps before criminals exploit them.

This guide outlines best practices for implementing effective vulnerability management programs.

Schedule Periodic Assessments

The foundation of vulnerability management involves conducting recurring system and network scans using solutions like Nessus to unveil new issues emerging across the infrastructure.

Comprehensive programs necessitate:

  • Automated vulnerability scanning on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Agent-based assessments for authentication  to internal assets.
  • Testing disaster recovery and public cloud environments.
  • Comparing results against previous scans to identify new exposure.

Regular assessments reveal blindspots before adversaries detect them.

Prioritize Remediation via Risk Ratings

While identifying vulnerabilities is crucial, the next phase – intelligent prioritization based on organizational risk tolerance – determines actual security posture improvements.

This requires:

  • Categorizing findings by severity (e.g. CVSS scores).
  • Determining asset business criticality (i.e. High Value Target analysis).
  • Prioritizing mitigation addressing most risky gaps first.

Risk-ranked remediation focus maximizes risk reduction.

Reassess to Validate Resolution

Finally, the last step is re-scanning previous vulnerabilities after patching to validate successful remediation.

This involves:

  • Tracking vulnerabilities to closure within vulnerability management programs.
  • Rescanning to confirm fixes now show the weaknesses as addressed.
  • Tuning scans to help identify borderline results requiring engineering clarification.

Closed loop assessments provide assurance in the program and dashboard reporting.

Mature vulnerability management lifecycles enable data-driven improvement of organizational risk postures through continuous evaluation. For additional training, explore SANS SEC560 courses covering network penetration testing methodologies.

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