What is Risk-Based Vulnerability Management or RBVM in Cybersecurity?

Written By Sambita Panigrahy  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On October 23rd, 2023
Reading Time 10 Minutes Reading

In today’s digital world filled with proliferating gadgets and rising cyber hazards, enterprises across the globe are searching for the best strategy to handle threats and vulnerabilities. Using vulnerability scanners to identify unpatched software is no longer enough. A much more comprehensive, risk-based vulnerability management strategy, including vulnerability assessment and mitigation measures affecting the entire ecosystem, is required to keep devices, networks, and digital assets secure.

Risk-Based Vulnerability Management – Definition

By prioritizing correction in accordance with the dangers each vulnerability poses to your company, risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) decreases vulnerabilities across your attack surface.

In contrast to historical vulnerability management, RBVM does more than only find vulnerabilities. With threat context and understanding of potential business impact, it aids in your understanding of susceptibility concerns.

Machine learning is used in risk-based vulnerability management to connect the importance of an asset, the severity of a vulnerability, and the activity of threat actors. In order to concentrate on the relatively few vulnerabilities that offer the greatest risk to your organization, helps you cut through vulnerability overload.

risk based vulnerability management

Objective of Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

Due to the fact that large company networks have more vulnerabilities than their cybersecurity teams can address, risk-based vulnerability management is required. Simply said, vulnerability management for large enterprises is difficult due to its scope. A major organization’s cybersecurity leaders can often handle 80,000 IT assets, such as laptops, servers, routers, and internet-connected printers. These assets could include 40 million vulnerabilities in total. However, according to Kenna Security’s research, only one out of every ten system vulnerabilities can be fixed by a company on average.

In the past, businesses prioritized the vulnerabilities they needed to fix based on a combination of gut instinct, legal and regulatory requirements, and the potential harm a successful assault may do. The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), for instance, rates vulnerabilities based on the harm they could do if exploited. Yet, many flaws with high CVSS ratings present little to no danger of exploitation. It would be a waste of limited resources to patch a vulnerability that is unlikely to be used.

It seems pretty hopeless, no? For many businesses, it most certainly has, but that’s where risk-based vulnerability management comes in. Real-world hackers only target a limited subset of security issues, if you observe their behavior.

The overall goal is to achieve some level of cyber-resilience by understanding the company’s security posture, identifying vulnerabilities, prioritizing actions, and getting to work mitigating those threats that pose the most serious risks to the organization. This is true regardless of which risk-based vulnerability management steps the enterprise implements.

Pursuing Cyber-Resilience

The ability of an entity to employ vulnerability assessment and vulnerability management to constantly deliver intended outcomes despite an ever-present flood of unfavorable cyber events is known as cyber-resilience, and it is the newest developing vulnerability management goal.

The goal of risk-based vulnerability management systems is to address the built-in security flaws in IT infrastructure, devices, and software. These are the kinds of weaknesses that provide cybercriminals and other adversaries the chance to take advantage of openings, and they may lead to unauthorized access to a system or network, access to or theft of sensitive data, or damage to priceless digital assets. Exploited flaws and breaches inevitably result in legal issues, monetary losses, and effects on the company’s reputation.

4 Fundamental Building Components for Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

The vulnerabilities that need to be fixed must be ranked according to which ones pose the greatest immediate risk if RBVM is intended to discover, eliminate, and control the inherent risk that vulnerabilities pose to an organization. They may result from unpatched operating systems, applications running out-of-date software, or isolated programs connected to a modern network. These may also be users who unnecessarily divulge sensitive information or introduce infected devices to the network.

Here are 4 critical methods for managing vulnerabilities based on risk.

  1. Visibility into all things (all assets) in the environment or on the network, including managed and unmanaged (BYOD) devices, apps, users, and data.
  2. Monitoring and scanning each asset via a variety of attack vectors.
  3. Prioritizing outcomes based on context entails understanding each asset’s value, its level of importance to your company, its level of vulnerability, any existing security measures in place, and any current international threats.
  4. Advice on the most effective strategy for addressing vulnerabilities that have been identified.

Risk Vs Vulnerability – Understand The Difference

Risk is the possibility that a cyber threat will result in the loss or destruction of an asset. The risk of an organization can change as a result of internal and external environmental elements, and it takes into account the likelihood of a bad thing happening and how it will affect your infrastructure.

A vulnerability is a hole or weak spot in your IT security measures or architecture that exposes you to additional risk or potential threats. Unpatched operating systems, programs, and apps running outdated software, isolated applications connected to current networks, as well as people who might bring infected devices or share sensitive information are all potential sources of these vulnerabilities.

Tools for managing vulnerabilities can identify dangers in the environment, whether they are risk-based or heritage-based. The most immediate and important threats to the organization are prioritized much more effectively via risk vulnerability management. The following are essential elements of risk-based vulnerability management:

Integrated threat intelligence: Information is gathered, processed, and analyzed to learn more about the goals, objectives, and attack methods of threat actors.

Complete risk scores: Risk is assessed and computed based on the importance of the asset, the level of risk, the likelihood of an attack, the impact on the business, and other key considerations.

Automation: To streamline operations and maximize resources, tasks within the risk assessment process are automated using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other intelligent automation solutions.

Also Read, What are Cloud Vulnerabilities & How to Minimize them?

Risk-Based Vulnerability Management Advantages

Using RBVM has various advantages for organizations, including:

1. Increased precision: In the fight against threat actors, companies can make quicker, more informed security decisions by utilizing threat intelligence and threat-hunting skills. This leads to a proactive approach that enables the IT staff to concentrate time and resources on the environment’s most important weaknesses.
2. More visibility: Risk-based vulnerability management ensures that all assets are visible across the entire attack surface. This includes contemporary assets that are frequently not supported by legacy tools, such as mobile devices and cloud-based applications.
3. Continuous protection: A modern RBVM technology continuously scans and monitors the environment, as opposed to collecting static snapshots of sensitive data and delivering out-of-date results. This aids businesses in identifying weaknesses as they develop.
4. Efficiency gains: Risk-based vulnerability management automates several components of the assessment process using cutting-edge technology. The IT team can streamline repetitive tasks and concentrate on high-value tasks.

How to Rank Cybersecurity Threats in Priority When They Occur

While the majority of organizations deal with a variety of environmental vulnerabilities, only a small number of them pose a serious risk to the organization. While prioritizing vulnerabilities, keep the following four factors in mind:

  • What constitutes a reasonable degree of risk? The amount of risk that a company is ready to bear should be determined by a threshold that is set by the organization. The resources required to address an issue, potential downtime in the event of an attack, the expense of remediation work, the impact on reputation, and the potential loss of sensitive data or intellectual property should all be taken into account when defining this level (IP).
  • What degree of danger is present? In order to calculate the chance of an attack for each vulnerability, a risk-based vulnerability management system makes use of historical data, analytics, and predictive modeling as well as current attack exploits. It is significant to highlight that an organization must continuously gather threat context and vulnerability data in order to perform this analysis successfully.
  • What level of danger is there? By dividing the financial cost by the probability, risk severity is determined. This makes the threat’s severity abundantly evident.
  • What is the risk’s urgency? An enemy can attack at any time. Yet, a business will be helped to identify how immediate an assault is by a risk-based vulnerability management solution. Additionally, it will assist the team in taking into account various business circumstances that could affect how the firm responds, such as personnel availability, consumer demand, and even the time of year.

Best Practices for Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

The one-size-fits-all strategy of scanning the network for vulnerabilities or employing several technologies to combat the “threat of the week” is no longer effective. For such security solutions, mobile and IoT devices frequently work invisibly, as do public cloud services, software-as-a-service programs, and industrial control systems.

What strategy makes the most sense, and how can your dynamic assault surface be accurately and continuously visible?

  • What you can’t see, you can’t secure. Network visibility, which entails being able to “see” all endpoints and traffic that travel throughout the business network, even extending into the public cloud, is essential for eliminating security blind spots.
  • Given the prevalence of cybersecurity threats and everything being digital, it is essential for enterprises to have complete visibility over all of their digital assets and be aware of the dangers involved.
  • A proactive approach to managing vulnerabilities must encompass the entire ecosystem, protecting an organization’s network, data, devices, and users.
  • A wide variety of attack vectors must be continuously scanned, monitored, and evolved in vulnerability management.
  • In order to concentrate your efforts on the most crucial issues, vulnerability management needs to assist you in understanding and prioritizing the risks to every network, device, user, and asset.

The most effective vulnerability management strategies, in short, are created to defend and safeguard the entire ecosystem while being watchful, proactive, and resilient as the threat landscape changes over time.

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Q- What is Risk-based vulnerability management, or RBVM?

RBVM is a proactive method of detecting and addressing security flaws according to how they might affect the resources and functions of an enterprise.

Q- Why does RBVM matter in terms of cybersecurity?

By concentrating on the most important vulnerabilities to lower their total risk exposure, RBVM assists companies in prioritizing their vulnerability remediation efforts.

Q- What distinguishes RBVM from conventional vulnerability management techniques?

In contrast to traditional vulnerability management, which prioritizes remediation based on variables such as asset criticality and threat severity, RBVM considers these considerations.

Q- What constitutes an RBVM program’s essential elements?

Vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, prioritization, remediation, and continuous monitoring are commonly included in RBVM.

Q- In what way can the cybersecurity plan incorporate risk-based vulnerability management?

An organization’s security plan should include RBVM as a crucial component, directing the distribution of resources and efforts toward the mitigation of high-priority vulnerabilities.

Q- Which technologies and tools are frequently employed for RBVM?

Vulnerability scanners, risk assessment programs, and threat intelligence databases are examples of RBVM tools.

Q- How frequently should assessments of RBVMs be carried out?

Regular RBVM evaluations ought to be carried out, the frequency of which should be determined by the organization’s risk tolerance and the dynamic nature of the threat landscape.

Q- Which technologies and tools are frequently employed for RBVM?

Vulnerability scanners, risk assessment programs, and threat intelligence databases are examples of RBVM tools.