Vulnerability Mitigation and Remediation Strategies

Even the most advanced security systems have vulnerabilities that expose your business to cyber threats, which is largely why modern organizations are incorporating vulnerability mitigation practices into their cybersecurity risk management. As cybercrime becomes more prevalent in the current digital age, your company must remain vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity as threats become increasingly aggressive and effective.

To help your security force better identify threats your organization faces, it’s important to understand the vulnerabilities that threat actors try to take advantage of, which is where vulnerability mitigation and remediation come in. Though related, mitigation and remediation are two different things, despite how often they are used synonymously. This article will discuss vulnerability mitigation, how it prevents risks from turning into major threats, and how modern SOC teams can fortify those weaknesses.

Why Do Organizations Need Vulnerability Mitigation?

A cybersecurity vulnerability can come in many different forms, but at its core, a vulnerability is a weakness in a system or in the security procedures, internal controls, or implementations of that system. If a threat actor can exploit that vulnerability, whether related to the hardware, software, network, personnel, physical, or organizational element of a security system, the safety of your operations will be at risk.

Threats have different levels of risk or potential harm to your system, and so does the type of vulnerability you are dealing with. Whatever weaknesses exist within your system, it is most important to be able to identify and prevent those vulnerabilities from spiraling into liabilities. Vulnerability mitigation helps reduce the hazards your company faces by discovering weaknesses, prioritizing which ones need attention, and ultimately remediating them.

For example, if your internal credential management is suffering from weak or duplicate passwords, it’s much easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your network or system. This means they also have access to your data and can even use malware to damage your system irrevocably. Assessing your weaknesses with vulnerability mitigation helps you identify issues like weak passwords and other potential flaws in your authentication procedures.

What is Vulnerability Mitigation vs Vulnerability Remediation?

Vulnerability mitigation is used to reduce, lessen, or decrease the risks your organization faces by identifying vulnerabilities cybercriminals can exploit and finding temporary solutions or fixes until a permanent solution is found. Vulnerability remediation is actually correcting or eliminating a vulnerability by getting to the root cause of the weakness and fixing it.

Both of these practices are a part of vulnerability management and often work together to protect a security system. While remediation is the ideal resolution, remediation isn’t always possible (or it may take a long time before resources can be allocated toward solving an issue). Mitigation helps identify and manage vulnerabilities, and if the resources and skills are available, those weaknesses can move from mitigation to remediation. Mitigation is often the answer instead of remediation for issues like:

  • A fix or patch of software isn’t immediately available, so the update that would remediate the issue is postponed.
  • Not all vulnerabilities are severe enough to be a real threat.
  • When you don’t have the bandwidth available on your staff or team, mitigation may be more reasonable than remediation.
  • Technical issues sometimes prevent remediation, such as a compatibility issue between different types of software in the same system.

Remediation is almost always the ultimate goal, but vulnerability mitigation is one of the steps (and solutions) when remediation is postponed or not possible.

5 Vulnerability Mitigation and Remediation Strategies

Vulnerability mitigation considers many different threats, which means there are many strategies that security teams and SOCs use. Some of the core practices that you or your security team should implement include the following points.

Vulnerability identification
One of the fundamental parts of vulnerability mitigation is actually identifying weaknesses so that they can be assessed. This is typically done by deploying a discovery scan, which catalogs devices connected to your network, maps the operating systems to their IP addresses, and checks for openings. Scanning is one part of identifying vulnerabilities, but it’s also important to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment to understand the gaps you may have in your security controls. Some organizations even use a vulnerability database that collects, maintains, and shares information about known vulnerabilities.
Risk-based vulnerability prioritization
Once you can identify the weaknesses that threat actors could exploit, you must use the vulnerability assessment data to decide what poses the biggest risks and how you can protect your environment from those risks. Some risks may need immediate attention while others can be put on the back burner.
Implement security controls
Now that you know the vulnerabilities and what you want to prioritize, you can use mitigation security controls in place that will protect your systems. These controls should be based on not only your priorities and security goals, but also use a pre-established cybersecurity framework that is tried and true within your industry. This ensures that you are following all the regulations your operation is required to follow and that you are covering all of your bases.

The three main types of internal controls are preventative, corrective, and detective. Within those main categories, there are all kinds of specific controls, such as

  • access controls that restrict physical access to buildings or locks,
  • procedural controls that ensure personnel receive adequate training and education for compliance with security procedures,
  • technical controls that use multi-factor authentication and firewalls to protect assets, such as deploying endpoint security defenses, and
  • compliance controls that leverage privacy laws and cybersecurity standards to construct the best practices.

Internal controls are some of the most impactful ways you can actually reduce cyber risks within your organization.
Plan for patch management
Even though software providers tend to regularly release patches, your team must still install those patches. It’s essential to set aside time in your workforce according to the patch release schedule so that as soon as updates are issued, your IT security team can get it installed and avoid any impending cyberattacks.
Continuous monitoring
Finally, make sure you are being proactive and continuously monitoring your systems and networks for potential attacks and vulnerabilities. Real-time threat detection empowers your IT team with faster response times and helps them with all levels of mitigation. Regular scans, checking for patch releases, constant analysis, and change management will round out your vulnerability mitigation efforts and ultimately protect your business.

Reduce Business Risk with Ontinue ION Vulnerability Mitigation and Remediation

Monitoring for threats is a huge part of security, but so is reducing (and preferably fixing) vulnerabilities in your own operations and systems. That’s why you need a vulnerability mitigation platform that takes a more holistic approach to your security. Ontinue ION is the best service for businesses looking for vulnerability mitigation and increased cybersecurity. Not only does Ontinue ION offer greater security solutions with vulnerability mitigation, but you also have access to experts who consider your business goals and help you maximize your current security investments. Reduce the attack surface of your organization and request a demo to learn more about what Ontinue ION can do for your organization’s security!