Vulnerability Remediation, Meet Automation

May 06, 2021

Automated vulnerability remediation helps organizations build and implement a risk-focused, contextual and effective vulnerability management program. Therefore, this will help them decide on the effective vulnerability remediation approach based on assets, security patches and security updates across common vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability remediation offers inventory evaluation, building a business and technical context around assets. This will help in ranking vulnerabilities, threats and risks based on business location, unit and asset type. It will also track KPIs, detecting and evaluation assets that do not comply with internal SLAs and automate vulnerability remediation. Cybersecurity automation also helps organizations create business processes and functions, set SLAs for vulnerabilities and take the right mitigation measures. 

The platform offers role-based access to C-suite and board executives, who can leverage the real-time insights received through the user-friendly dashboards and reports to assess and modify the risk strategy. 

The SaaS-based delivery model provides organizations a quick start to scalable and robust remediation programs with little upfront investment. It’s created based on a plug-and-play API-driven architecture with integration capabilities with the best asset level inventory systems, patch management tools, ticketing systems, and commercial open-source security controls. 

How to Automate Cybersecurity Evidence Gathering with Vulnerability Management Integration 

Automated evidence gathering helps businesses to gather as much information about different types of malicious activities and cyber attacks as possible. Vulnerability management tools and vulnerability management software are on the front line acting as the scan tool for threat detection. 

Integrating the evidence collected with a Governance, Risk, and Compliance solution (GRC) is critical to take actionable steps towards effective vulnerability remediation. There are many security frameworks which include PCI, NIST CSF, ISO and SOC 2 that help IT experts build robust security controls that leverage collected evidence for remediation purposes. 

Nevertheless, the real power comes from the integration between GRC platforms and vulnerability management. Often times, the integration comes in the form of a plugin that facilitates communication between the vulnerability management system and GRC. 

While a plugin empowers proficiency, there is often configuration that must be done. It’s recommended that organizations automating evidence gathering with vulnerability management integration search for a GRC platform with out-of-the-box, pre-configured rules that are easy to leverage and replicate for additional use.

Vulnerability Management Automation: Good or Bad?
The Good:

Scale

  • Cybersecurity automation can deliver thousands of assessments on-demand and scale to large estates which require vulnerability management on a regular basis. "Low hanging fruit" can be easily noticed but sometimes risk can be inaccurate which affects prioritization. 
  • Automation can be challenging in relation to authenticated assessments and even when multi-factor authentication is used by the asset.
  • Automation still needs to be modified such that it’s production safe and does not negatively affect the asset being evaluated. 

Metrics

  • On-demand or frequent assessments via automation can help in the provision of ongoing metrics. 
  • We can measure time to remediation (TTR), assist with root-cause analysis and identify the most common vulnerabilities to help focus on prevention. 
  • If this cybersecurity automation delivers incorrect results, metrics will suffer and prioritization will also be less effective.

Visibility

  • Automation that is used for asset profiling on a regular basis is effective. 
  • Detection of change on a daily basis delivers visibility, assuming you’re profiling an organization's whole estate without any blind spots. 
  • Asset visibility is a simple but underrated aspect of cybersecurity and vulnerability management.
The Bad:

Accuracy

Automation is still not really nice at delivering precise results. This can be through false negatives, false positives, or risk context which does not help with vulnerability prioritization and can result in time wasted on validating issues highlighted by the automated system.

Risk context in this sense is essential to vulnerability prioritization and eventually the effectiveness of a vulnerability management program.

Asymmetric Warfare: Using Automation Alone

It’s considered that dependence on tools or automation alone to defend against experienced skilled attackers is a lost battle. Cybersecurity automation just won’t win. Humans are by nature curious and can find the most doubtful issue, which could result in vulnerability. 

Most exploitable vulnerabilities are in relation to issues that automation can’t detect very well. Issues such as authorization and business logic issues are not suited for detection via automation because automation does not have the intelligence or is context-aware. 

Automation may find some issues quickly but humans are capable of noticing and exploiting complex attacks based on breaking the logic of a system albeit more slowly.

Human speed is not conducive to keeping pace with software development. We cannot depend on humans to defend our systems anymore. To keep pace with change, we need a combination of both human and machine: technology which augments human expertise and removes the repetitive tasks. 

Business Logic:

We need a combination of human beings and machines to effectively provide adequate vulnerability assessment coverage. Automation is a great discovery but woeful at logical vulnerability detection. Attackers take time to do both, and this is why we see an increase in breaches on a daily basis.

Summary

In conclusion, automated vulnerability management integration aims to ease vulnerability remediation. To act on detected vulnerabilities, the system needs evidence to tag the vulnerabilities and prioritize them for remediation. 

Following a cybersecurity framework does not only aid in IT security but also detecting vulnerabilities in the first place. Cybersecurity automation allows organizations to scale the manual steps of identification, prioritization, remediation and mitigation. 

Do you want to learn more about using cybersecurity automation for vulnerability remediation? If yes, Vicarius is a vulnerability management software that targets cybersecurity officers and operators, as well as IT managers and operators from the U.S. market.

 

Photo by Phillip Glickman on Unsplash

Written by

Kent Weigle

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