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4 Reasons Vulnerability Management Tools Are the Best Defence Against Advanced Attacks

Security teams seem to have been caught into a never-ending “find and fix” vulnerability loop, where a new one appears as soon as you patch one. Relying on legacy vulnerability management tools cannot effectively manage vulnerability risks. In this post, we’ll explain why modern vulnerability tools are the best defence against advanced attacks.

Modern Tools are Not Old-Fashioned Vulnerability Tools

We have come a long way from old-time vulnerability scanners. Early solutions would scan the network looking for active hosts. Next, they would scan and finally check for vulnerabilities. Today’s environment differs significantly from the one legacy vulnerability tools were created for. Data is no longer in siloed data centers, and deployment cycles get shorter every year.

These changes affect the threat landscape. Now IT teams need to protect assets distributed over on-premises, cloud environments, and multiple devices types. The increase in vulnerability exposures makes matters worse.

Ten years ago, we saw maybe 1000 vulnerabilities detected a year. Back then, vulnerability management was primarily done manually. Today, manual technologies are simply ineffective, if not impossible, to apply.

One of the issues of legacy vulnerability management is manual patching. Traditionally, security teams would follow a “find it, fix it” approach to patch vulnerabilities as they appear. Patching may have the risk of downtime, interfering with another asset, or implementing faulty patches. Today’s vulnerability management tools are designed to improve the prioritisation of vulnerabilities, provide better visibility and automate remediation. Solutions are distributed in various categories for cloud security, application security (SAST, IAST, DAST, SCA), and vulnerability analysis (risk-based vulnerability management).

There are some characteristics common to next-gen vulnerability management tools:

Risk-based vulnerability management

Using a raw CVSS score won’t address how vulnerabilities can be exploited in different environments or assets. A risk-based vulnerability management approach ensures remediation resources are directed at the threats according to the risk they pose to their business.

Automation

Modern vulnerability management platforms implement automation across the process, from threat detection to remediation. Automation saves time from manual scanning and increases accuracy.

Complete visibility

Vulnerability management platforms provide complete visibility over the network, its assets, and how they interact. For remediation to be effective, you need a complete mapping of the components of your network.

Types of vulnerability management tools

Static application security testing (SAST)

SAST is a type of white-box testing solution. It tests the structure and the static code of an application. Static application testing is carried on early in the software development cycle, before code compilation. Most SAST tools support major web languages: Java, PHP, and .Net.

Since SAST discovers vulnerabilities early in the development process, they can be solved quickly. Additionally, since it finds vulnerabilities at the code level, it makes it easier to remediate them.

Dynamic application security testing (DAST)

DAST is a black-box security testing method. This means it is performed when the application is running, testing the application from the outside in. Since it doesn’t require source code, it can detect issues that were not seen before releasing the code. Additionally, DAST tools usually generate fewer cases of false positives.

Interactive application security testing (IAST)

IAST is a type of software tool that assesses how the application performs and detects vulnerabilities. Agents and sensors analyse the application, testing the entire code, the system configuration, web components, and backend connection data. IAST operates inside the application and can be integrated into CI/CD.

How Vulnerability Tools Are a First Line of Defence

According to a report from KPMG, 73 per cent of organisations are facing malware threats and 43% facing ransomware attacks, checking for vulnerabilities is a necessity. Here’s how the vulnerability tool provides the first line of defence.

a. Prevent Alert Fatigue
Attackers are becoming more sophisticated. Therefore, it is harder to distinguish between an attack and normal network behaviour. The problem for analysts is how to detect malicious behaviour among every suspicious behaviour.

Legacy vulnerability management tools overwhelm security teams with a high volume of vulnerability alerts, of which a small percentage result in being exploitable. The problem is that analysts don’t have a straightforward way to know whether they fixed the vulnerabilities attackers want to target or not without a lot of contexts. This endless game of patching whack-a-mole, with one vulnerability popping up as soon as you patch another, creates vulnerability fatigue and makes it very difficult to mitigate risk.

A modern vulnerability management tool provides the visibility, automation, and prioritisation needed to reduce the risk of advanced attacks proactively.

b. Protect at the business-critical application layer

The issue with application vulnerability management is that once you disclose a vulnerability, the clock starts ticking to fix it before attackers can take action. Legacy vulnerability solutions cannot provide efficient protection for the business-critical application layer. Vulnerabilities can lurk within any layer of defense. Some types of malware allow attackers to move laterally and infiltrate business-critical applications.

A vulnerability management tool can detect and remediate the vulnerability before attackers have the opportunity to cause damage.

c. Rank vulnerabilities using a risk-based approach

Just detecting vulnerabilities is not helpful for security teams. What security teams need is the context and ranking of risk for the most critical vulnerabilities. A vulnerability management tool ranks the vulnerabilities based on exploitability, potential risk, and impact for the organisation.

d. Gather, sort, and evaluate data in near-real time

Modern vulnerability management tools do more than vulnerability scanning. They collect, classify and evaluate network and assets data in near-real-time. The solutions compare the information with threat data, prioritising what you need to take care of first.

Conclusion

Legacy vulnerability management tools are not effective against advanced attacks. New types of solutions that detect vulnerabilities from static or running applications can give security teams the much-needed context and prioritisation to effectively manage risks.


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