A stronger cybersecurity posture has many components. One valuable tool at your disposal is vulnerability scanning and remediation.
Software development is under constant pressure to produce releases, while security testers are continually searching for, and finding, vulnerabilities in those releases. The development team then releases a patch or update to fix those vulnerabilities. Applying patches or updates to the vulnerabilities keep your technology and business operations running smoothly, and if you don’t make the updates in a timely manner, your network is vulnerable to a cyberattack. This constant cycle makes it imperative for your bank or credit union to implement a regular vulnerability scanning program.
Setting up a regular and effective vulnerability scanning program can be a daunting task particularly when you first get started. If you have questions about this process or want to get started with regular scans, please contact us. StrataDefense has years of experience conducting scans and working with clients to remediate vulnerabilities efficiently.
What is vulnerability scanning and remediation?
Vulnerability scanning and remediation is a two-part tool when you not only look for issues in your network but also patch the issues. Let’s break it down further and look at each part individually.
Vulnerability scanning is a systematic scan of your network to identify known security issues and their severity. A scan can be internal to your network, meaning the scanning software has access to your network, or external, such that the scanner has the same access to your network as the internet. A great program involves both.
Vulnerability scans are a necessity for financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. In addition to vulnerability scans, most financial institutions run penetration testing to find vulnerabilities that the automated system cannot. Penetration testing can be static or dynamic and is a detailed exam by a real person who tries to detect and exploit weaknesses in your system.
Once you’ve identified vulnerabilities from the scan or test, remediation comes into play and is the other key element of reducing your risk of threats and attacks. Remediation is when security professionals fix vulnerabilities through patch management and updates. Remediation efforts are tracked against each vulnerability to ensure every issue is addressed.
What is the likelihood our applications are flawed?
No matter the industry, the likelihood your network contains flaws is high, but the severity and risk of those flaws can vary. Veracode, a global provider of application security testing solutions, analyzed 20 million scans across one half million applications in the retail, manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, technology, and government sector for their annual State of Software Security (SoSS) report v12. According to this report, “In the retail and hospitality sector, the data showed nearly 75 percent of applications contained security flaws with only 25 percent fixed and 17 percent identified as ‘high severity,’ or better known as a severe risk to the business if exploited.”
The most common application flaws are authentication issues, insecure dependencies, and server configuration issues. As security flaws are discovered, companies release patches or updates to remedy them, but these updates do not help you if they are not applied at your organization. Keeping track of every update released by every organization so that you can apply them is a massive task.
This is where regular scanning can help. Scanning software is continuously updated to look for the latest known issues. To get the most benefit, being on a schedule and tracking your remediation efforts are critical. StrataDefense offers managed network support to banks and other financial institutions, which includes getting an organized scanning and remediation procedure in place to prioritize and address the vulnerabilities. This organized procedure reduces the risk of data breaches, data loss, malware, phishing, and distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) attacks.
You may need more than just a regular schedule and remediation efforts. Mature financial organizations may be seeking efficiency in prioritization during triage. A local community bank or credit union may be facing the challenge of where to start and allocate already limited resources. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, released a set of documents to guide the prioritization of software vulnerability remediation in November 2022, titled, Transforming the Vulnerability Management Landscape. We can help you determine where your efforts may be best directed.
What does the process look like from a broad perspective?
- First, identify all assets and assign the importance of those assets to your bank or credit union, the risk weakness, and value.
- Next, identify asset accessibility inside and outside your network, or public versus private access.
- Now, you’re ready to start scanning for vulnerabilities. You will want to get both inside scans and outside scans. An inside scan is done with access to your network, whereas an outside scan is done without access to look for vulnerabilities from what the internet can see.
- Once the scan is complete, you review the resulting report and prioritize the points of weakness for remediation. This is where your earlier assessment about criticality comes into play. Focus on the higher risk assets first. In some cases, you may not be able to remediate the vulnerability due to identified problems with the patch, or conflicts between systems. In these cases, part of the remediation effort is documenting where you are accepting the risk.
No matter your size or business stage, security professionals such as StrataDefense can help tailor your vulnerability scan and remediation to best fit your organization.
How often do we run the scans?
There is no mandated or required frequency at which you should perform vulnerability scans. Recommendations range from daily, to weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The frequency of your scans depends on your type of organization, size, and complexity. Ideally, banks, credit unions and other financial institutions should perform scans quarterly, or annually at an absolute minimum.
What are my next steps?
Vulnerability scanning and remediation on your applications is imperative for survival because a data breach can sever customer trust for your brand and business. If you’re looking to start, improve or make progress on your network vulnerability scanning and remediation, contact us immediately. At StrataDefense, we help manage the infinite cycle of identifying vulnerabilities and patching them in time before an attacker exploits your data.
There may be specific features you or your industry need for data management in your cybersecurity plan. Contact our team at StrataDefense for a complimentary assessment or discussion for your specific needs. Visit www.StrataDefense.com.
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