Vulnerability management – An essential component of prevention

4 minutes reading

Actively tracking vulnerabilities and patching security holes in operating systems and applications is critical, yet often neglected by IT admins, because it is a time-consuming task. The importance of patching is undeniable since some of the major factors in data breaches are known vulnerabilities that companies didn´t patch, which easily could have been prevented with vulnerability assessment and patch management tools.

According to IBM´s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, over 5% of the breaches covered in the study originated from known vulnerabilities that had yet to be patched. The study also found that the cost of a data breach related to an unpatched vulnerability stands at $4.17 million. Comparatively, organisations with more proactive and risk-based vulnerability management, including vulnerability testing or penetration testing, experienced lower-than-average data breach costs, compared to organisations that didn´t take the extra step. These statistics only underline the importance of proactive and preventive measures.

The Importance of Vulnerability Management for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)

Vulnerability management involves a systematic approach to identifying, classifying, prioritising, and remedying vulnerabilities within a business's IT infrastructure. By regularly scanning their systems and networks for vulnerabilities, SMBs can uncover potential weaknesses before malicious actors exploit them. This proactive strategy is fundamental to maintaining the security and integrity of a company's data, systems, and networks.

Vulnerability management enables businesses to protect their systems and networks from other potential cyber threats, such as ransomware. Vulnerabilities in software or network configurations can serve as entry points for attackers, allowing them to gain unauthorised access or launch attacks such as malware infections or denial-of-service attacks.

By identifying vulnerabilities, prioritising the remediation of critical vulnerabilities, and addressing them promptly, SMBs can strengthen their defences and reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data loss.

Challenges in Vulnerability and Patch Management for Small and Medium Businesses

Despite the pressing need to identify and patch vulnerabilities promptly, the statistics reveal a less-than-ideal situation. On average, organisations take 88 days to patch critical vulnerabilities, with the number even higher for less-critical ones.

One of the primary challenges that SMBs face is a lack of expertise in cybersecurity. Unlike larger enterprises that may have dedicated security teams, SMBs often have limited resources and may not have personnel with specialized knowledge in vulnerability management. Consequently, the process of identifying, prioritising, and remedying vulnerabilities becomes daunting for SMBs, leaving their systems and networks exposed to potential exploitation.

Another significant challenge is the rapid pace at which new vulnerabilities are discovered. With thousands of new vulnerabilities reported each year across various software and hardware platforms, companies may struggle to stay informed about emerging threats and prioritise their patching efforts accordingly. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that cybercriminals often exploit newly discovered vulnerabilities before patches can be developed and deployed.

Applying patches is a time-consuming task. IT admins must test for errors, and schedule deployments to avoid disruptions to internal workflows. Even after patches are applied, there are additional tasks, such as monitoring patch effectiveness, confirming that all devices are updated, and addressing any issues that may arise post-patching.

Enhancing Security Through Active Vulnerability Tracking and Automated Patching Tools

Searching for vulnerabilities and patching them can be a complex task, but some tools and solutions can simplify the process. One such solution is ESET Vulnerability & Patch Management, an automated tool that detects vulnerabilities and applies the latest patches to apps and operating systems across all endpoints, managed through one unified platform.

By adopting a vulnerability and patch management solution, you are adding another layer of protection to your preventive efforts, significantly reducing the chances of successful attacks due to outdated operating systems and applications.

An effective solution should have the following features:

  • Automated scanning of endpoints and automated patching across all endpoints
  • Prioritising and filtering vulnerabilities by exposure score and severity
  • Vulnerability reports of most vulnerable software and devices
  • Possibilities to configure auto-patching, set a patching strategy, and define time slots for when patching should occur

The importance of actively tracking vulnerabilities and patching security holes cannot be overstated in today's cybersecurity landscape. While it is often neglected due to its time-consuming nature, the consequences of failing to patch known vulnerabilities can be severe, as evidenced by the high costs associated with data breaches.

Being particularly vulnerable to cyber threats, small and medium businesses face challenges, such as a lack of security expertise, resource constraints, and the difficulty of keeping pace with emerging vulnerabilities. However, by embracing proactive vulnerability management practices and leveraging automated tools, SMBs can strengthen their defences and reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data loss.

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