Risk-Based Patch Management

Enhance Security with Risk-Based Patch Management: Prioritising Active Exploits

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Change can be challenging, especially when organisations believe their existing processes are efficient and effective. However, relying on assumptions and recommendations for software management can leave companies vulnerable to security breaches. To address this issue, risk-based patch management (RVBM)offers a solution that focuses on actively exploited vulnerabilities. In this article, we will explore the drawbacks of typical prioritisation methods, explain risk-based patch management, and discuss why now is the ideal time to adopt this approach.

The Limitations of Typical Prioritisation Methods:

Conventional software management relies on severity ratings and scores assigned by vendors, which lack standardisation and fail to consider active threat contexts. Consequently, organisations are left comparing and prioritising releases based on recommendations, often resulting in outdated vulnerability assessments. This approach may overlook actively exploited vulnerabilities, leaving critical gaps in the organisation’s security posture.

The Importance of Prioritising Active Exploits:

One of the key principles of RVBM is prioritising actively exploited vulnerabilities over others. Active exploitation refers to vulnerabilities that threat actors have already used to launch cyberattacks. By focusing on these vulnerabilities, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of an attack. The majority of vulnerabilities are not actively exploited, making it crucial to identify and address those that pose the most substantial risk.

Understanding Risk-Based Patch Management:

Risk-based patch management goes beyond vendor severity and basic CVSS scores. It incorporates real-world risk context into the patch management process, ensuring organizations prioritize updates for vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited. This approach helps enhance an organization’s security posture by targeting the vulnerabilities that matter most.

Adopting Risk-Based Patch Management:

To adopt a risk-based approach, organisations can leverage resources such as the CISA Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog. The catalogue provides a list of actively exploited vulnerabilities, enabling organisations to prioritize their updates accordingly. However, more mature RVBM practices utilise advanced risk scoring methodologies that assign scores to vulnerabilities based on the true risk they pose. These methodologies, like Ivanti’s Vulnerability Risk Rating (VRR), provide dynamic risk ratings that give greater weight to actively exploited vulnerabilities.

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Adopt Risk-Based Patch Management:

If your organisation is struggling to keep up with system updates or feeling overwhelmed by new systems and applications, now is the ideal time to embrace RVBM. By proactively implementing this approach, you can mitigate the risk of data breaches resulting from exploited vulnerabilities. Start by using the CISA KEV catalog to prioritize updates and allocate a budget for a comprehensive risk-based vulnerability and patch management solution. With the right tools in place, you can identify and address high-risk systems promptly, ensuring the security of your organisation’s systems.

RVBM provides organisations with a proactive approach to software management that prioritizes actively exploited vulnerabilities. By adopting this strategy, companies can significantly enhance their security posture and minimise the risk of cyberattacks. It’s time to overcome resistance to change and embrace RVBM to safeguard your organisation’s data and systems.


Written by Todd Shell

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