Vulnerability management planning is a comprehensive approach to the development of a system of practices and processes designed to identify, analyze and address flaws in hardware or software that could serve as attack vectors.
A vulnerability, also known as a security hole, is a weak point that an intruder could exploit to gain access to system resources for data theft or malicious purposes. The essential elements of vulnerability management include detection, assessment and remediation. Methods of detection, such as vulnerability scanning, penetration testing and Google hacking, help find potential attack vectors.
A vulnerability scanner relies on a database that contains all the information required to check a system for security holes in services and ports, anomalies in packet construction, and potential paths to exploitable programs or scripts.
Pen tests, which may be automated or performed manually, involve gathering information about the target before the test, identifying possible entry points, attempting to breach the system and reporting back.
Google hacking is the use of advanced search operators in search engine queries to locate hard-to-find information. Security researchers and intruders can both use targeted queries to locate information that was not intended to be public. Manipulation and further engagement can turn up vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
During vulnerability analysis, any security holes found are identified, defined and classified. This stage may also involve evaluating the potential effectiveness of proposed countermeasures and subsequently evaluating how well they performed in practice.
Remediation is the stage of the vulnerability management in which any security holes that are evaluated to pose an unacceptable risk to the organization are patched.
Because the nature of threats is constantly evolving, vulnerability management planning comprises a continuous and repetitive body of practices that must be frequently tweaked to ensure it is effective in the current threat landscape.