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What Is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability management is the process of identifying and assessing vulnerabilities, reporting on them and managing or mitigating them. The process covers all of an organization's endpoints, systems and workloads as the security team strives to ensure the organization's systems and data stores are as secure as possible.

Why It's Important

In 2022, 26,448 software vulnerabilities were reported, of which more than 4,000 were considered critical. With so many businesses relying on computerized systems to store their own data and customer data, having strong security processes in place is essential. Vulnerability management helps businesses secure all their endpoints and protect data from ransomware and hackers.

How Does Vulnerability Management Work?

Vulnerability management is an ongoing process that includes several steps and should be treated as a cycle, not something performed as a one-off.

  • Asset discovery and inventory: All endpoints and systems must be accounted for to ensure security.
  • Vulnerability scanning: Using vulnerability scanners helps identify misconfigured systems and insecure software or hardware.
  • Patch management: Deploying software patches, especially security-focused ones, is one of the most basic steps toward reducing vulnerabilities.
  • Configuration management: Properly securing systems and having backups in place to mitigate exploits or prevent ransomware attacks greatly reduces security risks.
  • Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM): Using SIEM tools for real-time monitoring of events can flag new issues or suspicious events that were missed by vulnerability scanners.
  • Penetration testing: Having the systems thoroughly tested by ethical hackers can reveal issues a standard vulnerability scanner might miss.
  • Threat intelligence: Being aware of current threats and how to mitigate them helps your organization stay one step ahead of attackers and plan how to respond to ransomware or malware, should you be faced with such threats.
  • Remediating vulnerabilities: Once vulnerabilities have been identified, security teams can consider how they would be exploited and ensure all avenues are protected.

Common Vulnerabilities and How They Are Ranked

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System ranks vulnerabilities based on a variety of metrics, including attack vectors, scope and impact. Vulnerabilities are rated according to the following severity scale:

Severity Base Score
None 0.0
Low 0.1 – 3.9
Medium 4.0 – 6.9
High 7.0 – 8.9
Critical 9.0 – 10.0

Prior to version 3 of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, only the Low, Medium and High bands were used. When common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) are published online in databases such as MITRE's CVE list or the NIST National Vulnerability Database, the severity of the vulnerability is included to give an idea of how critical the issue is.

Low-severity vulnerabilities may simply cause an app to crash or reveal relatively innocuous information about the system. In addition, it might require a very specific and unusual combination of system settings and installed applications in order to be exploited. A high or critical vulnerability is likely to affect a large percentage of systems running the software in question and has more serious consequences if exploited. For example, a remote execution vulnerability that could be exploited to run ransomware would be a critical exploit.

The Vulnerability Management Process

The vulnerability management framework involves working through a process of identifying and evaluating vulnerabilities before taking steps to mitigate them, as shown below:

1. Discovery

The first step of the process involves identifying vulnerabilities through a combination of vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.

2. Prioritize Assets

Take an inventory of your assets. Consider which are most critical, as this will help when assessing the impact of vulnerabilities.

3. Assessment

Evaluate the vulnerabilities found in step one; prioritize them based on their severity and potential impact on your assets.

4. Reporting

Report any known assets and document potential issues, plus your plan to fix them.

5. Remediation

Install security updates, make configuration changes and take other steps to mitigate known vulnerabilities.

6. Verification

During this phase of the cycle, security teams reassess and monitor their networks and endpoints, looking for areas where security could be improved.

Choosing a Vulnerability Solution

A vulnerability management solution can be a deciding factor in the security of your business. There are some factors to be aware of when choosing which one to use.

What to Look For

When shopping for a vulnerability management solution, consider the following:

  • Breadth of coverage: Does your chosen solution cover all your endpoints, deliver continuous discovery and integrate with other tools you are using?
  • Assessment capabilities: Does the solution provider have a good track record for identifying zero-day vulnerabilities? Can the solution provide passive monitoring for cloud services/IoT solutions?
  • Reporting and intelligence: What sort of real-time intelligence and reporting solutions are provided? Do they suit the size and needs of your organization?
  • Pricing: Is the pricing flat fee or based on the number of scanners used/API calls made? How does that pricing structure match the needs of your organization and any potential scaling plans?

Leading Solutions and Tools

Many companies provide vulnerability management software, including Rapid7 Insight VM, Qualys Vulnerability Management, Detection and Response and Holm Security VMP. Gartner® provides a handy list of some top vulnerability management solutions, along with a list of their features and reviews.

How Veeam Can Help

Vulnerability management systems are an essential security precaution, but a good backup and recovery system is essential too. If you'd like to learn more about how Veeam's ransomware protection can help your business protect its data, book a demonstration today or download a trial to test the software yourself. 


What is the difference between vulnerability management and vulnerability assessment?
Vulnerability assessment is one of the many tasks performed as a part of vulnerability management. However, vulnerability management is an ongoing process that includes assessment, reporting and remediation.
What are the differences between a vulnerability, a risk and a threat?
A vulnerability is a weakness that can be exploited by a threat. A risk is what happens as a result of a threat being used to exploit a vulnerability.
What is the difference between vulnerability management, vulnerability scanning and vulnerability assessment tools?
Vulnerability management is a broad process that includes vulnerability scanning and assessment. While vulnerability management tools scan to identify if a vulnerability is present in a system, vulnerability assessments go further than scanners. They consider the impact a vulnerability might have if it's exploited.
What is vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT)?
Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing is the process of having ethical hackers attempt to break into a network using exploits. Pentesters use all the skills at their disposal to attack networks and gain privileged access to data on a network, and then they document their findings.

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