Measuring Risk with Vulnerability Management Metrics

Vulnerability Management
5 min read
James Mignacca
July 5, 2023
James Mignacca
July 5, 2023
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Understanding Vulnerability Management Metrics

Robust vulnerability management is essential to risk mitigation and maintaining a healthy security posture. Yet cloud-based systems and software adoption have drastically changed the vulnerability landscape. As a result, organizations are steadily growing the cache of digital assets needed for day-to-day operations, fueling data sprawl and limiting IT and security team visibility to sensitive company data.

As teams add new SaaS solutions to their ever-expanding tech stack, they unintentionally perpetuate data sprawl, create data silos, and expose the business to software security gaps and vulnerabilities. Third–party software vulnerabilities ranked third on IBM’s 2002 Cost of a Data Breach Report. According to the report, these incidents cost businesses approximately $4.55M USD last year and took 284 days (on average) to identify and contain.

On the vendor side, software development has been subject to security guidelines, but loosely regulated — until now. In March, the Biden-Harris Administration released its National Cybersecurity Strategy, emphasizing secure development practices to mitigate software vulnerabilities and ensure accountability. This directive is a significant step toward hardening the software supply chain; however, IT and security teams remain responsible for vulnerability management, risk mitigation, and reporting across the third-party software and tools they use.

Vulnerability scanning and penetration tests are a critical component of both hardware and software-based vulnerability management. But a bi-annual or quarterly cadence won’t cut it, especially as government oversight, industry regulations, and board directives increase pressure on teams and IT and security leaders to better define what the business’s vulnerability management metrics and risk profile looks like.

Key vulnerability management metrics to monitor

Vulnerability management metrics provide data insights that are critical to broader attack surface strategy. A number of standard indicators are used to measure security vulnerabilities, including the severity and age of software vulnerabilities and the maturity state of security controls in place.

Converting these metrics to insights that are relevant to your business and the types of sensitive data it uses, stores, and shares helps you understand your business’s levels of threat exposure and make informed decisions to invest effort appropriately to manage it over time.

Metrics are proving instrumental in board reporting, especially as organizations make cyber hygiene a top priority. Granular insights can help operational teams remediate more effectively, demonstrate meaningful benchmarks to executive leadership, and quantify risk at the board level.

Understanding the security and software vulnerabilities that exist within an organization starts with identifying very low, low, medium, high, and very high thresholds appropriate to the nature of the business. These thresholds form benchmarks which help to accurately identify and quantify risk.

Augment vulnerability management reporting and establish a comprehensive and bespoke data risk reporting structure with these key metrics:

Data Cost summary

Denote risk-cost distribution based on the top at-risk sources across platforms, sources, and by PII type.

Benchmark summary

Rank and benchmark hosts by tests passed and failed, active schedules, active policies, and active whitelists.

Vulnerability summary

Highlight overall vulnerability risk, Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores, critical vulnerabilities, active schedules, active policies, and active whitelists.

Remote vulnerability summary

Track risk specific to remote vulnerabilities against max CVSS scores, critical vulnerabilities, active schedules, and active policies.

Software summary

Identify non-compliant agents, unapproved software, missing software, approved applications, approved publishers, and mandatory applications.

Growth summary

Detail risk growth over time across cost of breach, benchmarks, and vulnerabilities, prioritizing critical remediation activities for operational teams, and risk quantification for board-level reporting.

Using vulnerability management metrics for risk measurement is becoming increasingly important for organizations, and it’s important to maintain thresholds and benchmarks that reflect the changing vulnerability and attack vector landscape.

Understanding and benchmarking software vulnerabilities on a continuous (and automated) basis allows businesses to quantify the risks associated with known security vulnerabilities across all company digital assets and tools — in real-time.

Learn more and schedule a demo to see how the Cavelo platform can help your team benchmark risk, support vulnerability management and more.

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