Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

What is Risk-Based Vulnerability Management?

Risk-based vulnerability management is a proactive strategy that identifies, prioritizes, and mitigates vulnerabilities within an organization’s IT infrastructure. It evaluates potential risks linked to vulnerabilities, focusing on those that pose the greatest threat to critical assets.

As organizations face an increasing number of cyber threats and sophisticated attacks, this risk-based approach to vulnerability management has become a necessity. Conventional methods often result in overwhelming vulnerability lists, complicating prioritization and effective addressing, much like the challenges of using CTI due to high volume and low relevance data.

By adopting a risk-based approach, organizations can allocate resources more efficiently, improving the understanding of the potential impacts of vulnerabilities on business operations, data security, and compliance requirements. Implementing a risk-based vulnerability management program has several advantages, including strategic resource allocation, a clear understanding of risk posture, and the integration of key components such as regular vulnerability assessments, threat intelligence integration, risk prioritization methodologies, and incident response capabilities.


What is the Difference between Risk-Based Vulnerability Management vs. Vulnerability Management?

Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) and vulnerability management (VM) are both practices aimed at identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating vulnerabilities within an organization’s systems and software. However, they differ in their approach and focus:

Vulnerability Management Risk-based Vulnerability Management
Scope and Focus Typically focuses on identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities based on their severity and exploitability without Takes a more strategic approach by considering the organization's overall risk tolerance and business context. It aims to prioritize vulnerabilities based on their potential impact on the organization's assets, operations, and reputation.
Prioritization Often prioritizes vulnerabilities based on their severity ratings, such as those provided by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). Higher severity vulnerabilities are typically addressed first. Considers not only the severity of vulnerabilities but also factors in the criticality of the affected assets, the likelihood of exploitation, and the potential impact on the organization's business objectives. This holistic approach allows for more informed decision-making.
Risk Context May lack a deep understanding of how vulnerabilities affect the organization's overall risk posture and business operations. Provides a more comprehensive view of risk by aligning vulnerability management activities with the organization's risk appetite and strategic objectives. It helps organizations focus on vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to their business.
Response and Remediation Focuses on patching or mitigating vulnerabilities as they are discovered, often following a predefined process based on severity. Considers a broader range of factors when deciding how to respond to vulnerabilities, including the potential impact on business operations, the feasibility of mitigation, and the cost-effectiveness of different remediation strategies.

While vulnerability management is more tactical and focuses on finding and fixing vulnerabilities based on their severity, risk-based vulnerability management takes a more strategic approach by considering the broader risk context and business impact of vulnerabilities. RBVM helps organizations prioritize their efforts and resources more effectively to manage risk in a way that aligns with their overall business objectives.


Building a Successful Risk-Based Vulnerability Management Program

Implementing a risk-based vulnerability management program is vital for organizations looking to proactively safeguard their digital assets. By prioritizing vulnerabilities based on risk, resources can be effectively allocated to address the most critical security issues first. Let’s walk through the steps to create a successful program:.

  1. Start by identifying and assessing vulnerabilities across your organization. Conduct a comprehensive vulnerability assessment that scans your systems, networks, and applications for weaknesses. Advanced scanning tools can provide a thorough understanding of your digital infrastructure’s vulnerabilities.
  2. Next, assess the potential impact and exploitability of identified vulnerabilities. This step involves evaluating the likelihood of an attack and the potential consequences of exploitation. By considering various factors, you can assign a risk score to each vulnerability.
  3. Once you understand the vulnerabilities and associated risks, develop a remediation strategy. Prioritize based on risk, focusing on the most critical threats first. This efficient resource allocation effectively reduces your organization’s overall risk exposure.


Best Practices for Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

Adopting certain best practices can enhance your risk-based vulnerability management approach, strengthen your cybersecurity posture, and efficiently mitigate risks.

  • Maintain Threat Intelligence. Maintaining up-to-date vulnerability databases and threat intelligence sources is crucial. This ensures that organizations have the latest information on vulnerabilities and potential threats, enabling proactive action.
  • Practice Continuous Monitoring. Continuous monitoring and assessment of vulnerabilities is another essential practice. Regular scanning of systems and networks for potential vulnerabilities and assessing their severity allows for prompt identification and remediation, reducing opportunities for attackers.
  • Implement a Feedback Loop. Establishing a feedback loop for ongoing improvement and optimization is also crucial. Feedback from various sources, such as incident reports, security audits, and user feedback, helps identify areas for improvement. This feedback loop allows organizations to refine their vulnerability management processes and optimize their security measures.


How does Forescout help with Risk-Based Vulnerability Management?

Forescout offers a comprehensive suite of solutions that enhance visibility, compliance, and proactive defense strategies. Here’s how Forescout helps organizations manage cybersecurity risks:

  • Operational Risk & Compliance Analysis: Forescout combines real-time and persistent asset state and compliance data in its Cloud data lake, reducing operational overhead for asset management. This provides clear and concise asset intelligence for every connected asset, including IT, IoT, IoMT, and OT devices, whether managed or unmanaged, and tracks configuration and changes over time.
  • Operational Resiliency & Incident Management: Forescout offers comprehensive risk and exposure intelligence by identifying various exposure attributes and quantifying their impact with a unique multifactor risk score for every asset. This helps in correlating information based on configuration, function, and behavior, thus providing a holistic view of security gaps across the attack surface.
  • Anomalous Behavior & Threat Detection: Forescout enables risk-based prioritization and remediation by focusing efforts on assets that present the most critical risk severity and exploitability. It also helps in locating and tracking assets that share common exposure attributes, allowing organizations to design and automate remediation workflows efficiently.
  • Accelerated Incident Investigation & Response: Forescout leverages historical asset context to aid analysts in proactive investigation of risks and reactive response to incidents and events. By correlating risk and exposure attributes with asset compliance and configuration state, Forescout helps limit the blast radius and reduces the time spent on root cause analysis and mean time to resolution (MTTR).

Schedule your demo to see how Forescout Risk and Exposure Management can quickly identify exposure, quantify risk, and prioritize remediation of security issues.

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