IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Importance of a Vulnerability Management Program

MSPs have an opportunity to add vulnerability scanning to their service offerings, providing an additional layer to secure customers. By Max Pruger

Cybercriminals are relentless and more resourceful than ever at finding vulnerabilities to exploit and attack networks. There’s no rest for the weary when it comes to keeping your business, and that of your customers, safe. Small to medium-size businesses are a favored target because typically they have fewer resources to focus on security efforts.

Surprisingly, vulnerability management is not a standard practice for many organizations—a disaster waiting to happen that can easily be avoided. For MSPs, it’s an opportunity to offer this as a service to protect customers against ever-evolving cyberthreats.

Protect Your “House”

A good home security system uses cameras, motion sensors, and locks to ensure the building is sealed and well monitored to keep intruders out. Similarly, businesses should take preemptive measures to keep their systems safe online. The main component to that is vulnerability scanning to detect and address flaws before the hackers prying for any opening or weak spot find a way in. Weak spots are not limited to physical systems—cloud environments are also game for cybercriminals. Vulnerabilities can range from coding bugs and packet construction anomalies to misconfigurations.

Vulnerability scanning provides an additional layer to a security strategy, yet a third of businesses fail to implement it, according to data from a RapidFire Tools survey. It’s not that IT professionals don’t understand the risk, it’s often the budget that’s the problem. Another obstacle is that some technicians feel the scans are complex and time-consuming. MSPs can leverage this situation, offering cost-effective vulnerability scanning solutions to customers so the technicians can focus more on day-to-day tasks.

A vulnerability management program includes ongoing detection, assessment, and mitigation of security vulnerabilities of networks, software, and applications. The key factor is detection, as flaws can’t be remedied until they are discovered. Vulnerability scanning searches for access points on the network and identifies weaknesses, which can then be fixed or remediated.

Vulnerability scans should happen at least quarterly, regardless of the size and type of network, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). However, if an organization’s computer network runs continuously to maintain regular operations, vulnerability scans should be run at least monthly, and even more frequently if a company deals with confidential or sensitive data.

Simplify the Process

MSPs should consider solutions that simplify the scanning process with automatic ticket creation and customized alerts that weed out false notifications that get in the way of discovering legitimate flaws.

With about 20,000 new vulnerabilities discovered last year alone, and tens of thousands still in play from a decade ago, it can be overwhelming to choose where to focus efforts. Start with software bugs as those are the easiest for hackers to exploit to access an IT environment. IP ports, external websites, and authentication services need to be monitored continuously—anything externally available to anyone needs to be scanned. But it can’t stop there. Internal threats pose problems too, which means malicious applications and downloads on end users’ devices need checking too.

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