10 key vulnerability management metrics to keep track of

Lucjan Zaborowski

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Picking the right vulnerability management metrics can be the difference between having a successful operation and having to pick up the pieces of a disastrous one. These benchmarks can help organizations not only keep track of their assets, and how to allocate money, but can also assist in giving them north when it comes to their security protocols and models. A valuable part of risk assessment has to do with measuring your vulnerabilities to each other — to finding out which of them are high-priority and require immediate attention not to mention investment, and which can be placed on the back burner. Vulnerability management metrics are incredibly important since, in a way, they’ll sort of be your litmus test in the overall quality of your security apparatus.

metrics

10 key vulnerability management metrics to keep track of. Source: depositphotos.com

The role of the right vulnerability management assessment and measuring

The role of vulnerability management is to assess and identify vulnerabilities in a system. In any system, or business. Although it might sound incredibly technical, good vulnerability metrics can be adapted to all industries — big and small. Tech or not. A company’s vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers to gain access to the system and steal data or disrupt operations. Vulnerabilities are usually identified by analyzing the system’s log files, network traffic, or even user input. Once the vulnerabilities are identified, they are prioritized based on their severity.

Vulnerability management metrics?

Vulnerability management metrics are used to measure the effectiveness of your security platform — of how it is dealing, when compared to others of its kind, with weak points. These metrics are often collected by a vulnerability management system and reported to the organization. The collection of these metrics is an important part of a vulnerability management program because it provides insight into how well the organization is shoring up its assets.

As a whole, there are 10 key vulnerability management metrics an organization should always keep an eye on.

Coverage

Servers, clouds, containers, open-source code, etc — at the very least some if not all of these are likely to be in use by your organization. Development teams rely heavily on these components. You need to be on top of all your tools and your SBoM – Software Bill of Materials. This will allow you to properly track and address vulnerabilities. Automated apps, like SAST and Software Composition Analysis Tools, provide organizations with great scanning functions. and offer critical rates of vulnerability management metrics to aim for.

Time to detection

Trackers can, well, keep track of data like time of a breach, detection, and the number of vulnerabilities. This data is updated and can be retrieved monthly or even weekly, or even hourly. Having time to detect rates, benchmarks you can improve is incredibly helpful since the quicker you can tweak them and shorten them, the better it will be for your overall security.

Time to remediation

This vulnerability management reporting metric tells you how fast you managed to fix a problem from the moment you ID it. Vulnerability management tech keeps a record of this intel — making it easier for you to generate indicators and learn from them.

Patching rate

This metric allows you and your team to see how many updates, patches, fixes, or corrections had to be applied to smooth out a problem. This will help you improve your overall strategy when it comes to patches.

Asset risks

Just ask yourself, how many people have administrative access to your platform? How many of them need it? How many of them do you actually trust? How many assets, security issues are you risking by giving people so much access to your systems? Having a metric that tallies all of that tells you which assets have the greatest impact when it comes to your business, and more importantly how to safeguard them by shortening the list of users that can access them.

Baseline or golden machine

Baseline or Golden machine is a term for a hypothetical perfect system with everything in top-notch order.

The term was first mentioned by mathematician John von Neumann in 1955.

In tech it’s something of a utopia, nevertheless, within our organization, all of us have one. Maybe not one that’s perfect but one that is near perfect. A machine that is ideal, with the latest fix, condition, networks, and tech. That’s the benchmark all other “machines” in your network should be measured against — anything that deviates from its scorecard needs to be fixed.

The average number of vulnerabilities over time

The key component on this metric is “overtime” in other words you need to have a graph of vulnerabilities across your infrastructure and how they appeared. Where there were dips, deviations, peaks — This will give you insight into your business and your schedule. For example, it might turn out that you were more vulnerable to breaches while a certain employee was on vacation. That would mean that that employee in question is a huge asset — sit him down, find out what he’s doing to better secure your organization, let him train the rest of your team.

Remediation results against SLAs

By analyzing the results of a pact against an SLA – Service Level Agreement – you can get a handle on how effective the overall strategy of that path was in regards to time and resources spent.

Many companies are now using AI to manage their SLAs. They are using AI to monitor the performance of the service providers and send alerts when they fall below the SLA level.

Number of open communication ports

This is a bit technical but bear with me: As a rule, you should try to avoid incoming traffic for NetBIOS =UDP 137 and 138, TCP 135-139 and 44). Outgoing SSL protocol – TCP 443 – should be complied with. Sessions that have been active for a long time have to be monitored and shut down. Protocols that allow remote sessions, like TCP 23, TCP 20, TCP 21, need to be continually monitored.

Frequency of review of third-party access

Review who has access to your networks. It’s common for IT administrators to grand vendors or third-party access to your systems during a project. It’s also common for them to then forget to cancel said access.

Importance of vulnerability management

Vulnerabilities are rising and businesses are scrambling to resolve them as quickly as possible. To the point that in many cases they are juggling multiple problems. Metrics allow you to prioritize them, create better vulnerability strategies, and manage your liabilities more efficiently.

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