Any company concerned with cybercrime, legal difficulty, and reputational harm would do well to seek out security solutions that improve cybersecurity and ensure legal compliance. Vulnerability management is one of such critical areas of focus to meet data protection regulations and reduce cybersecurity risks in an organization’s IT environment. This article will discuss vulnerability management's role inside an organization and how vulnerability management can help organizations achieve data compliance.
Common Types of Vulnerabilities and Vulnerability Management
Vulnerabilities are flaws or other weaknesses in an organization's IT system that an attacker could use to compromise the organization's resources or network. Bad actors could, for example, use bugs and mistakes in the code to force applications to act in ways that were never intended. The following are common types of security vulnerabilities that organizations need to address in their data security strategy:
- Network vulnerabilities: a gap that might be exploited by an attacker to gain unauthorized access to a system; could be caused by a bug in software, hardware, or administrative procedures.
- Operating system vulnerabilities: a weakness in the operating system that hackers may use to get access to a system.
- Configuration vulnerabilities: this includes incomplete installs, poorly conducted system upgrades or updates, and default deployments that can facilitate hackers’ attempts to exploit and attack networks and devices.
- Application vulnerabilities: This is a system loophole in an application that could be used to breach the application's security.
- Vulnerability scanning - detection, evaluation, and reporting of security flaws
- Vulnerability assessment - delivering information for cybersecurity threat mitigation and prevention.
- Vulnerability remediation - discovering, fixing, and neutralizing IT security issues in an organization.
The Importance of Vulnerability Management
The issue of cybersecurity is becoming more important. Businesses have reported increased cybersecurity threats over the years. According to a report by the Ponemon Institute (2020), the number of assaults increased by 17% in 2019; 60% of the breaches that year were the result of a known vulnerability that had not been patched1. A successful cyberattack can also be devastating to a business. In 2023, the cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $8 trillion, and by 2025, that number is expected to rise to $10.5 trillion, as stated in the report by Cybersecurity Ventures (2022)2. IBM and the Ponemon Institute's research (2022) found that it typically takes security teams 277 days to discover and control a data breach3.
These days, businesses are increasingly adopting cloud solutions and adding more updates, apps and users to facilitate their business needs. Such practices may make it harder for organizations to find and fix weaknesses in their IT systems, leading to a increased attack surface. Hackers can constantly look for these opportunities to gain access to critical resources if organizations do not have data security practices in place to continuously maintain the safety of their IT environment.
Vulnerability management is more important than ever because of the damage that may be done to a business after a cyberattack, and because hackers are always seeking new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. It has also become a critical factor in meeting regulatory requirements like HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST 800-731, and others.
The term "data compliance" is used to describe the observance of laws and guidelines that require an organization to take precautions against the loss, theft, and abuse of the private data it stores and processes.
There are several shapes that these regulations might take. Whether they are industry standards, federal or state laws, or supranational regulations like GDPR, regulations governing the handling of personal information will often detail the categories of data that must be safeguarded, the forms of processing that are permitted, and the consequences for businesses that do not comply.
These regulations are essential to ensuring the privacy, security, and veracity of customers’ data. By adhering to these rules, businesses may avoid costly fines and maintain the trust of their customers.
Investing in effective cybersecurity and data protection solutions is thus crucial for organizations to meet compliance and protect their sensitive data. Appropriate data security solutions also allow businesses to boost their cybersecurity hygiene and operational efficiency.
Navigating Regulatory Landscape with Vulnerability Management
Inadequate cybersecurity practices and the importance of data privacy and protection among digital businesses are eliciting a growing reaction from regulators. An unpatched software flaw can be a major factor that provides an entry point for attackers to get access to sensitive data or systems.
Vulnerability management methods are thus mandated by several regulatory and governance frameworks for achieving compliance with regulations including PCI DSS, HIPAA, NIST, ISO 27001, SOC2, FISMA, NYDFS, CMMC, and GLBA. Organizations that accept credit card payments, for instance, are subject to strict regulations from the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), one of which is to do frequent vulnerability scans and penetration testing to uncover security flaws in their systems. Thus, it is recommended that businesses employ vulnerability management solutions for the features that may help them meet compliance requirements.
Vulnerability management solutions can do continuous vulnerability assessments and remediation, avoiding the risks associated with either ignoring them or failing to find them. Once a threat is detected and prioritized, mitigation efforts are put into place. These remediation actions and the security audit feature of vulnerability management are essential practices to enable organizations to meet the level of data protection required by internal and external regulations.
With a cyclical approach to vulnerability management, organizations can minimize the life span of vulnerabilities and non-compliance gaps in their systems. Hence, vulnerability management can proactively fortify an organization’s security posture and maintain compliance, reducing the risk of data breaches and associated costs.
Vulnerability management’s important goal is to reduce the risk of being exploited through the four most common types of vulnerabilities. Contact Adnovum to implement a proactive vulnerability management approach that effectively protects your organization’s IT infrastructure and meets compliance requirements.
1. Ponemon. (2020). Costs and Consequences of Gaps in Vulnerability Response.
2. Cybersecurity Ventures. (2022). 2022 Official Cybercrime Report.
3. IBM and the Ponemon Institute. (2022). Cost of a Data Breach 2022
4. Ponemon Institute and Servicenow. (2020). Costs and Consequences of Gaps in Vulnerability Response