Over 5,000 vulnerabilities make their way to headlines every year. The number will continue to grow, considering that the publicly disclosed vulnerabilities encourage the hackers in their devious acts.
This is why having a vulnerability remediation process is not too much for any organization with its reputation and customer safety to protect. This guide will explain the 3 significant steps of vulnerability remediation that any organization should know.
But first, let's analyze what the process encapsulates:
Search and Fix: The Vulnerability Remediation Process
Before delving into the crucial steps of the vulnerability remediation processes, we must understand what it consists of and why having a remediation process in place is vital for every organization.
As we all know, hackers only need to be lucky once, but the organization needs to be lucky every day. This is why every organization needs to remain one step ahead of malicious attacks. In most cases, DevSecOps professionals are required to have a process prepared to track and manage identified vulnerabilities.
In the past, tracking was once a tedious and time-consuming manual process. Nowadays, security teams can concurrently track their organization’s software inventory with practical automated tools, match them against the databases and security advisories, and issue trackers in the software development space to confirm that they are running their software on non-risky code. Conversely, if the tracking results show they are at risk, they need to diminish the risk in the most efficient strategy possible.
These steps can seem simple, but without a proper vulnerability remediation process that all the stakeholders have agreed on, an organization might find itself unlucky for that day and let the hackers lead their own race.
First Step: Understand Your Code
A deep understanding of your own environment is essential in the vulnerability remediation process. You should know what you work with by continuously tracking your software inventory to identify what might need immediate attention.
FOR SAST DAST and Pen Testing
If your organization’s software uses proprietary code, Dynamic Application Security Testing tools (DAST) and Static Application Security Testing tools (SAST) can help you analyze your applications and/or source code in their dynamic state. Not only that, these tools can help you identify potential vulnerabilities that could risk your organization’s security.
Also, performing a pen test on your organization’s application regularly can help you assess and locate any hidden security vulnerabilities in your code before releasing it. Although these tools can come in handy for keeping your proprietary code vulnerability-free, they are not suitable for open-source code.
To combat and prevent risks from open source security vulnerabilities, a Software Composition Analysis tool (SCA) is your best option. These lines of tools allow security professionals and software developers to locate all open source components in your organization’s system. The tools help identify vulnerabilities as soon as they are added to the code base, alerting the admins when new vulnerabilities are published in various security databases or when risky open source components are added to the advisories.
Using SCA tools is vital because most popular open-source components are widely supported by a community that collaborates on updating and checking the code. Security vulnerabilities are sometimes found in the most trusted and used versions. Suppose you don’t perform periodic tracking on the open source inventory to match it against the updated security advisories. In that case, you might miss the vulnerabilities, which might be too late and often a mess.
Second Step: Review, Organize and Prioritize Your Vulnerabilities
Do you understand exactly what your code entails and what might require your attention? Good thing if you know that.
However, there are situations where you are faced with many vulnerabilities; you can only spend a few hours a day racing to a solid and secure release. As a developer, how can you achieve your clean and vulnerable-free launch goal? Well, you should prioritize.
If your organization uses a proprietary code, you need to have a prioritization policy in place. You need to evaluate the risk of the detected vulnerabilities, their impact, likelihood of occurrence, and the security controls in place to avert such threats.
Basically, vulnerabilities that will have crucial damage will be separated beforehand. Once the vulnerabilities are assessed, and every team member understands the vital system that feels threatened, what the exploit might be, and its impact, then the remediation efforts can be shared among the team without the need to halt the development cycle.
How Do You Prioritize In The Right Way?
Ordinarily, effective prioritization can seem challenging. But, having a tool that can sum up and collate all open source vulnerability information will assist your organization in getting the most accurate information.
Besides, the presence of a vulnerable, open-source component doesn’t translate to the fact that your code is affected. That is, if you’re not using the vulnerable file or function in your system architecture.
To prioritize your remediation process wisely, ensure that you have an accurate and complete overview of the open source vulnerabilities in your codebase, what they impact, and how they work. Then, you can employ tools such as the third generation of SCA tools. These tools usually come with practical usage analysis that helps teams gain insight into the functionalities in the open source documents that can impact your code and provide a trace analysis that shows the location of the vulnerability in question and the components it affects.
Third Step: Fix the Problem
You’ve taken enough time to identify and search for the vulnerability, prioritize and select the issue that needs immediate attention. Now it is time to fix the problem.
When performing vulnerability remediation for proprietary code, you need to consider the source of the security vulnerability you intend to fix. Also, you need to employ manual and automatic processes as remediation to proprietary code, sometimes including disabling the vulnerable process, patching, removing a vulnerable component, updating the platforms or the service that the team uses, or updating the system configuration.
More importantly, it is essential to test the fix or update outside your production environment to avoid regression in your product or systems. Once a patch or fix is enacted, you should continue monitoring its security to ensure it doesn’t affect other configurations or processes in the system.
When you discover new security vulnerabilities, it indicates that your system's perimeters need more security. Conversely, having a superior protection perimeter does not eliminate your need to manage and monitor security vulnerabilities.
The Open Source Vulnerability Remediation
When it comes to remediating open source vulnerabilities, there are often additional challenges in the fixing stage. The decentralized and collaborative nature of the open-source community denotes that vulnerability fixes in open source components can be published across all the advisories.
However, some projects will offer quick, detailed, and documentation support, while others will slow down the process because they have to dig through message boards and forums.
This is why manually searching for an open-source vulnerability fix is time-consuming and sometimes impossible. The best approach uses an automated SCA tool that will notify admins of any available fix immediately after they are published.
If not attended to, most security vulnerabilities can cause danger to the most innovative service or product. Recently, the application security ecosystem is experiencing vital evolution together with the DevSecOps approach. This has allowed us to integrate automated tools throughout the development cycle. Currently, there are many tools at our disposal to address the ongoing risk of software security vulnerabilities.
Development organizations must have a policy to couple with the innovative software composition analysis and the various testing tools in the market to secure customers' privacy and systems.
If you need help with scanless vulnerability assessment or vulnerability management, Vicarius is the ideal software to use. Vicarius is a vulnerability management software that targets cybersecurity officers as well IT managers and operators from the U.S. market.