It’s impossible for teams to resolve every issue within their estates, and many may never need fixing. That’s why vulnerability management prioritization is such an important part of the remediation process.

Vulnerability management prioritization allows teams to identify which of their security issues are most vulnerable, so they can execute the most effective remediation strategy for keeping their organizations secure.

In this article, we discuss the best approaches to vulnerability management prioritization.

What Is Vulnerability Management Prioritization?

Vulnerability management prioritization is an important stage of the Vulnerability Management Lifecycle, as shown below.

Once results from a vulnerability assessment have been received, issues must be analysed to determine the level of risk they pose. They can then be ranked in order of importance, and remediated accordingly.

Without effective vulnerability management prioritization, teams could be wasting valuable time, or worse, failing to focus on what’s most important and putting their organizations at risk.

The vulnerability management lifecycle, of which vulnerability management prioritization is part of

Using CVSS Scores for Vulnerability Management Prioritization

Many teams rely on CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) scores to guide their vulnerability management prioritization efforts. But are they fit for purpose?

CVSS is an industry standard for assessing the severity of vulnerabilities. The scoring system assigns issues with a number from 0 to 10, with 10 being most severe.

The scores are intended to give users a sense of how easily a vulnerability could be exploited, as well as the level of impact. But they were never actually intended to be used for prioritization.

As a result, CVSS scores are increasingly being considered an outdated and ineffective method of prioritization.

One reason for this is because CVSS scores are almost never revisited once they have been assigned. This provides teams with a limited, point-in-time view of an issue’s risk, rather than considering a changing threat landscape.

CVSS scores also lack a lot of context. For instance, a ‘critical’ issue may never have an exploit published for it.

Therefore, the industry is moving more towards a risk-based approach to vulnerability management prioritization, which is considered far more effective than relying on CVSS scores alone.

How to carry out Vulnerability Management Prioritization: A Risk-based Approach

One of the most effective ways to carry out vulnerability management prioritization is to take a risk-based approach. This enables IT security teams to accurately evaluate the severity of an issue, in context with their organization’s unique priorities and threat landscape.

There are two factors to consider: the priority of your assets, and threat intelligence.

1: Vulnerability Management Asset Prioritization

Vulnerabilities are difficult to prioritize if they are not considered in relation to your organization’s assets. For instance, a ‘critical’ vulnerability may not actually be a top priority if it doesn’t affect an essential system. That’s why vulnerability management asset prioritization is key.

The first step is to make a comprehensive inventory list of your assets. Then, assets can be grouped according to their priority level. Generally, important assets could be any that are business-critical, internet-facing, or contain sensitive data, but this will be specific to your organization.

2: Intelligence-led Prioritization

Vulnerability management prioritization should be intelligence-led, helping you accurately evaluate risk and prioritize based on real-world context. One way of doing this is by integrating exploit resources with your processes, such as Exploit DB or Zero Day Initiative.

Overall, a risk-based approach to vulnerability management prioritization helps you identify which issues are truly most vulnerable; for example, an issue affecting a priority-asset that is being actively exploited.

It also helps organizations allocate their resources most effectively, ensuring that money is not spent on risks that are unlikely to have an impact.

Prism working with Rootshell on Vulnerability Management Prioritization

Vulnerability Management Prioritization with Prism Platform

Prism Platform is our vendor-agnostic platform that helps you implement modern and effective vulnerability management programs, reducing mean-time-to-remediate for critical issues by 68%.

Specifically, Prism helps teams execute vulnerability management prioritization with the following:

  • Active Exploit Detection: Prism’s industry-leading Active Exploit Detection automatically alerts you to active exploits for your issues on a daily basis, so you can gain the context needed to prioritize most effectively.
  • Asset Prioritization: Prism makes it easy to assign priority ratings to your assets, track the remediation status of associated vulnerabilities, and measure the success of the system owners assigned to them. You can also set up automations to ensure your assets are always correctly organized and prioritized.
  • Data Consolidation: Prism is vendor-agnostic, so you can use it to consolidate results from any assessment type. Consolidating all your vulnerabilities in one place makes it seamless to continuously analyse, prioritize, and manage your estate.
  • Greater Visibility: Prism helps you gain a clear understanding of your global threat landscape and makes it effortless to continuously evaluate whether your program is delivering.
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