Vulnerability Intelligence: Incorporating the Most Critical Component of a Full Compliance Solution

Abstract:

This white paper will discuss the key elements of Software Vulnerability Management and how a properly deployed solution based on Vulnerability Intelligence will help organizations to maintain compliance and further secure their IT systems from breaches, attacks and data loss.

Executive Summary:

Businesses are finding that meeting ever evolving compliance requirements has become a task that is ever harder to accomplish. The reasons for that are manifold, especially when one considers the implications of failing to meet compliance. The resulting fines often compromise the very budgets needed to achieve full compliance. Simply put, organizations bound by compliance must invest in the appropriate tools and methodologies to avoid those fines, and worse yet, incidences of data loss or breaches.

Compliance requirements, such as NERC, HiPPA, SOX, PCI, and GLB, all share something in common, and that is a requirement to mitigate the risk of exploitation of vulnerabilities. However, businesses are finding that detecting, understanding, identifying, cataloging and remediating vulnerabilities is a never ending cycle. A repetitive cycle that seriously lags behind the collaborative identification of vulnerabilities, which can be provided by a software vunerability management platform, and help to conceptualize the overall impact that a vulnerability may have.

That said, it has become evident that businesses need access to Vulnerability Intelligence - an up-to-date clearing house of identified vulnerabilities and the impact that those vulnerabilities could potentially have on meeting specific compliance requirements. Not only is that intelligence critical to avoid fines, ease audits and protect critical systems, it is also critical for protecting business assets from compromise and preventing data loss. Two issues that often far outweigh the costs of a failed audit.

Simply put, businesses today need to leverage knowledge about vulnerabilities and take the appropriate actions to harden their systems against compromise, whether or not compliance is involved.

Introduction:

Software Vulnerability Management is quickly becoming an important component of enterprise security, as evidenced by a MarketandMarkets report, which forecasts that the security and vulnerability management market will grow from $5,472.2 million in 2014 to $9,087.4 million in 2019, at a CAGR of 10.7% during the forecast period. However, the importance of Software Vulnerability Management goes much further, especially when considering the implications presented by compliance regulations.

Regulatory compliance laws, whether they are EU, US federal, state or locally mandated, have a common theme that dictates specific requirements for IT security, especially when it comes to dealing with protecting privacy, customer information and other sensitive data. What’s more, compliance regulations normally have an auditing requirement, as well as requirements that dictate how security related events are recorded, managed and remediated.

For example, to achieve HIPAA compliance, an organization must incorporate over a dozen technology safeguards dealing directly with data control. Much the same can be said for the numerous other regulations that control how businesses deal with data. Regulations such as, the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX), Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC CIP), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), and the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), and others have requirements focused on data security, as well as compliance reporting, auditing, and security event mitigation.

When taken in context, that means organizations bound by compliance regulations must institute processes that deal with vulnerabilities. In other words, organizations must be able to identify weaknesses found in assets, which could be exploited by one or more threats, and take the appropriate action to remediate the discovered weaknesses. Which in essence is what Software Vulnerability Management is all about.

With that in mind, it becomes clear that Software Vulnerability Management and compliance regulations have a strategic relationship, where VIM helps organizations to achieve compliance, while compliance regulations outline what constitutes the elements of being compliant. Leveraging Software Vulnerability Management solves several compliance issues, such as identifying vulnerabilities, vulnerability correlation, reporting vulnerabilities, and remediating vulnerabilities within a short time frame (as required by some regulations).

Section 1: What is Software Vulnerability Management, Vulnerability Intelligence and Why It Is Important

Software Vulnerability Management refers to the process and tools that are used to discover, correlate and remediate the flaws in software, which can be exploited by a hacker or a cyber-criminal to compromise the system. In practice, vulnerabilities are reported and compiled by a multitude of sources, including software and hardware vendors, government agencies, public organizations, educational organizations, InfoSec vendors, and individuals.

Vulnerability Intelligence refers to verified information, which also includes, additional information about vulnerabilities, such as historical data, information about exploits, criticality ratings, and fixes, as well as additional information that can be used by compliance officers and security administrators to better protect vulnerable systems.