The Top 7 Challenges in Vulnerability Management and How to Overcome Them

Modern enterprises are more vulnerable than ever. Whether due to ransomware attacks, phishing scams, or just not being able to patch quickly enough, malicious hackers are constantly probing networks and endpoints looking for weaknesses. According to recent headlines, they continue to enjoy plenty of success. In this blog post, we look at the vulnerability management lifecycle to identify why vulnerability management remains a challenge for many companies.

A recent study by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) investigated this by asking IT personnel to name the biggest challenges they faced in dealing with vulnerability management. Here are the top seven reasons why vulnerability management continues to be a major issue in most enterprises: 

  1. Keeping up with the volume of vulnerabilities

There are thousands of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) in existence with more being added every month. It’s no wonder organizations can’t keep up with fixing even the most severe vulnerabilities. Many enterprises continue to operate with known vulnerabilities, even years after patches have been published. 

  1. Prioritizing IT and cybersecurity tasks around patching and remediation

Many organizations struggle to fix vulnerabilities due to conflicting priorities and lack of resources. Examples include launching new applications, assigning personnel and financial resources to address vulnerability and patch management needs, or other issues that absorb time, such as compliance reporting. If organizations are seeing this lack of prioritization, they typically have manual patching processes or lack of automation at the root of the problem. It takes so long to test and patch or apply upgrades to fix vulnerabilities that IT and cybersecurity operations lag behind if prioritization isn’t part of your vulnerability management strategy. 

  1. Coordinating processes across different teams 

For many large enterprises, patching is managed by IT operations, while vulnerability scanning is managed by cybersecurity teams. Each team, though, has a hand and responsibility in ensuring enterprise endpoints are managed and secured. While distinct responsibilities are important for risk management, this does not mean that gaps must exist. Platforms that offer a unified endpoint and vulnerability management view can help reduce the friction of coordinating across these different teams. 

  1. Tracking vulnerability remediations and patch management over time

What this means is that organizations can find it difficult to manage the vulnerability remediation and patch management process. They don’t know if urgent patches have been deployed, and whether they have been installed on all endpoints. They also lack the means to verify if an urgent vulnerability, such as the recent Log4j vulnerability, has been eradicated completely from all systems. This leaves enterprises vulnerable to attackers.

  1. Mitigating software vulnerabilities that can’t be patched or fixed easily

Sometimes patching isn’t enough or isn’t available. Organizations need to harness other approaches to mitigate these vulnerabilities, including misconfigurations, open ports, and weak access and authentication controls. Unfortunately, for many enterprises, this process can be extremely resource intensive. Not only do cybersecurity professionals need to evaluate the vulnerability, they also need to determine the mitigation and then implement any remediations manually. 

  1. Automating the vulnerability management lifecycle (vulnerability discovery, prioritization, dispatch to owner, and mitigation)

Reliance on on-premises, legacy, and manual tools stand in the way of comprehensive automation of all endpoints. Enterprises using vulnerability management tools that are not cloud-based or directly connected to endpoints are often unable to automate their processes. This means enterprises may fail to spot serious vulnerabilities quickly and/or address high priority patches rapidly. 

  1. Tracking the cost and efficiency of vulnerability management

As noted earlier, because vulnerability scanning, management, and mitigation are often managed across multiple departments, it’s also likely that these teams also use different tools. This all means that organizations find it hard to tally up how much they are spending to address vulnerabilities, patch their systems, and keep their endpoints secure. 

How to Overcome Patch and Vulnerability Management Lifecycle Challenges

According to the ESG report, “Issues persist in aligning patching priorities between IT and security. Tracking endpoint patching over time further challenges many, requiring process improvements to close the loop between patching and assessment.” How are companies dealing with this and overcoming vulnerability management lifecycle challenges? 

One answer, from the ESG report, is increasing consolidation of teams responsible for endpoint management and security. The research notes: “Organizations are showing a clear preference to combine endpoint security and management rather than maintaining separate teams/responsibilities, with more than half (55%) reporting that they’ve already completely converged the two functions…Endpoint management and security technology solution providers need to accelerate the convergence of tools to support this fast-moving organizational trend.” 

That’s why Syxsense developed its Enterprise product tier. Syxsense Enterprise provides complete end-to-end automation and management of all endpoints and security vulnerabilities. With a built-in security scanner and pre-built remediations, organizations can spot any and all devices with OS and security vulnerabilities, open ports or protocols, misconfiguration issues, and more. Once these IT and cyber risks have been identified, companies can deploy an extensive library of vulnerability remediations to resolve identified issues. With Syxsense Enterprise, all of this can be done without any human intervention by leveraging Syxsense Cortex, a no-code automation tool that simplifies complex processes and worfkflows, enabling thousands of devices to self-heal and self-manage. Organizations can customize and generate the reporting they need for executive management, auditors, and regulatory agencies.  

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