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A formal vulnerability management process provides structure, focus, and prioritized action to reduce risk. It also helps justify investments in other cybersecurity measures to stakeholders.

The modern cyber ecosystem is always changing as new technology, services, and devices are deployed. Each change presents a new attack surface.

Risk Assessment

Vulnerability management starts with identification – you can’t fix vulnerabilities if you don’t know they exist. That’s why frequent scanning and monitoring are the first steps in a successful vulnerability management program.

The second step is to assess the risk that a vulnerability poses. This is done using a combination of impact and likelihood.

Impact describes how severe a loss or damage would be, and likelihood describes how common a threat is. This information is used to determine a risk score, which in turn helps prioritize vulnerabilities and remediation efforts.

During the assessment process, involving multiple teams from different areas of your business is important. This will help you get the most accurate picture of your vulnerability exposure and help ensure accountability for critical assets.

This also helps build a stronger case for stakeholders to support your vulnerability management program. 

Risk Prioritization

As threats evolve, vulnerability management must keep up. It combines meticulous scanning and risk assessment with a thorough asset inventory to protect against attackers. There are many different areas to cover, from anti-money laundering assessment and backup data exposure to human error and even natural disasters.

After assessing vulnerabilities, it’s important to prioritize them to ensure that the most critical risks get remedied first. This is done by creating a risk matrix that ranks risks by likelihood and impact.

This allows your team to focus mitigation efforts on the most dangerous ones rather than trying to tackle everything at once. This is a vital step to help your team avoid wasting resources and improve your cybersecurity posture.

If you prioritize the right risks, you could avoid a costly breach or loss of customer data. The next step is remediation, which involves patching or reconfiguring the vulnerable system to prevent attacks.

As a final step, you should perform another scan to verify that the vulnerabilities have been resolved. This can be a challenging task because of the number of vulnerabilities that exist in most organizations.


A successful vulnerability management program must also focus on remediation.

Remediation is the act of patching vulnerabilities and removing them as threat vectors.

Unfortunately, patches aren’t always available for every vulnerability found during scans and penetration tests. Security teams must be able to prioritize and effectively deal with these weaknesses in their unique environment.

This requires an understanding of the impact and exploitation risk for each specific asset. A standardized CVSS score cannot provide this context.

The ideal treatment for a vulnerability is complete remediation, which eliminates it as an exploitable threat. However, this is only sometimes possible, particularly if an asset is critical to the success of an organization.

In this case, mitigation can be the next best thing, which reduces the likelihood or impact of a vulnerability being exploited. It’s essential to track and report on these mitigation efforts, too. 


The right metrics help put vulnerability management data into a format that business leaders and teams can understand. They can also elevate risk awareness to make it easier for stakeholders to see the value of a VM program.

Whether patching software, re-architecting systems, or changing hardware, remediation reduces the risk of exploitable vulnerabilities by closing them. This metric illustrates the effectiveness of your remediation process to IT and executive management teams.

Vulnerabilities with a high impact on your organization should be prioritized for treatment, even though they might have lower exploitation rates than less critical vulnerabilities. This metric indicates the effectiveness of your vulnerability management program in treating critical vulnerabilities quickly.