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vulnerability management

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: How to hone an effective vulnerability management program

Vulnerability management is a pro-active approach to managing network security through reducing the likelihood that flaws in code or design compromise the security of an endpoint or network.

Vulnerability management processes include:

  • Checking for vulnerabilities: This process should include regular network scanning, firewall logging, penetration testing or use of an automated tool like a vulnerability scanner.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities: This involves analyzing network scans and pen test results, firewall logs or vulnerability scan results to find anomalies that suggest a malware attack or other malicious event has taken advantage of a security vulnerability, or could possibly do so.
  • Verifying vulnerabilities: This process includes ascertaining whether the identified vulnerabilities could actually be exploited on servers, applications, networks or other systems. This also includes classifying the severity of a vulnerability and the level of risk it presents to the organization.
  • Mitigating vulnerabilities: This is the process of figuring out how to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited before a patch is available, or in the event that there is no patch. It can involve taking the affected part of the system off-line (if it's non-critical), or various other work-arounds.
  • Patching vulnerabilities: This is the process of getting patches -- usually from the vendors of the affected software or hardware -- and applying them to all the affected areas in a timely way. This is sometimes an automated process, done with patch management tools. This step also includes patch testing.
This was last updated in December 2016

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