Which Vulnerability Prioritization Technology Is the Most Accurate?

It’s not possible to patch up all weaknesses that put organizations at risk.

New hacking methods, complex multi-cloud environments, and different teams can create an opening for the next cyber breach.

Also, attack surfaces change within minutes — making it challenging to patch up critical weaknesses in real-time.

How can IT teams manage vulnerabilities in an ever-changing system and fix the flaws that are likely to put an organization at risk?

The key is in prioritizing the risks that make sense within the context of a particular organization.

What types of vulnerability prioritization technology exist, and how does it work towards prioritizing the weaknesses that need patching up?

We look at the most widely used ranking system dubbed CVSS and compare it to the new development in the field — Attack-Based Vulnerability Management or ABVM.

CVSS Is Used by Most Teams

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is the system that assesses and ranks the weaknesses of an organization to aid teams to establish patching up schedules. Most risk management software is designed to rely on this ranking.

The analytics are fairly straightforward. What makes it easy to understand is that it ranks the vulnerabilities from 0-10, from those that present the lowest risks to the most severe and harmful flaws.

The higher the rank, the more likely they are to turn into incidents within the system. When deciding the critical flaws, teams focus on the flaws that rank seven or higher.

While CVSS gives a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the possible flaws that need patching up, it is not necessarily accurate.

Each organization has a unique set of systems they use to operate as well as different people who manage and use the assets of the company. CVSS doesn’t analyze the flaws in such contexts.

The vulnerability of one company doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a high-risk flaw of another because they have different critical assets.

Furthermore, teams rely on CVSS to schedule patching up ahead of time. Therefore, weeks can pass by between setting the date and fixing the possible flaws in the system.

This could mean that the security has vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers or that the attack went unnoticed.

Another thing that may make the CVSS inaccurate is that the tool ranks weaknesses based on the information it has — which can be limited. 

For example, the service provider might not give detailed data that describes the vulnerability they have found within their service. In such a case, CVSS will rank the flaw as 10 in severity, which might not be a true representation of the actual severity of said vulnerability.

ABVM Sets Priorities Based on Context

Attack-Based Vulnerability Management (ABVM) is the latest development in vulnerability prioritization technology. The tool is calibrated to evaluate possible weaknesses based on the security controls and evaluated risk.

It measures the severity of weaknesses by exploring whether it is likely to be misused in the context of the system and targets the most valuable assets that must be guarded.

Considering that ABVM follows up elaborate testing with a report that shows how vulnerabilities can affect the company, there is less of a chance that IT teams are going to focus on the vulnerabilities that aren’t likely to result in a breach.

When IT teams run this software, they can also check if the patching up is truly necessary. For instance, the company might already have the working security controls that can mitigate the type of risk that is highlighted in the report.

The main disadvantage of the ABVM is that, like most vulnerability prioritization technology, it’s still relatively new. Organizations use it because it can accurately show them which part of the system needs patching up and save them money on manpower and resources.

How Does ABVM Assess Risks?

Its predecessor is BAS technology, which tests systems as a hacker would — by scanning for and targeting vulnerabilities. Breach and Attack Simulation tests the security and people within the company by simulating attacks in a safe environment. 

What follows is a concise report that separates risks based on their severity to prevent the IT team from being overwhelmed with a multitude of alerts and false positives.

ABVM utilizes the BAS tool to test the system against common and new cyberattacks. The tool is automated, and it evaluates the security 24/7 to discover any possible flaws early.

What’s more, it can assess security in real-time, which is essential for the attack surface that’s constantly changing with each update and new addition to the network.

Frequent updates also ensure that the vulnerabilities it tries to reveal cover both common attacks and new hacking methods for which the security doesn’t yet have the means of detection and protection.

To ensure that the tool can single out new flaws, BAS is linked to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework. This library of novel and common cybercriminal methods offers a description of how they have affected other systems in the past as well as solutions on how to patch up flaws that could result in exploitation.

Conclusion

Prioritizing weaknesses in the system means that the tools you have should be able to determine which are the high-risk flaws that have to be remedied before others.

A company can easily be confronted with over 20,000 vulnerabilities, and most of the time IT teams don’t have the resources or time to fix every flaw that might impact the system. 

Therefore, ranking systems and tools such as BAS can help them distinguish flaws that have to be patched up first.

CVSS provides a simple, detailed, and straightforward ranking system that can guide teams and aid them to remedy flaws that are likely to cause authorized access or leaked sensitive data.

ABVM takes vulnerability prioritization further by testing the flaws in the unique context of the organization. 

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