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Top 5 Strategies for Effective Vulnerability Remediation for MSPs

ConnectSecure  |   Jun 21, 2024

In the first week of this year alone, internet users discovered 612 new common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs). That’s a slightly higher frequency than in 2023 when the National Vulnerability Database published 79.18 CVEs per day for a total of 28,902. These security weaknesses are like unlocked doors to your clients’ digital environments, inviting attackers to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive information, deploy ransomware, disrupt services, and more.

If every vulnerability had to be treated with the same urgency, vulnerability remediation would consume every waking moment of the MSP community. The challenge — and key to successful remediation — is threefold:

1) Identifying the vulnerability: You can’t fix what you don’t know.

2) Understanding whether it demands immediate attention: Not all vulnerabilities are created equal.

3) Determining the most effective vulnerability remediation strategy: Should you apply patches, update software, change configurations, or implement other controls?

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the strategies you can leverage to remediate vulnerabilities, the tactical, corrective step of vulnerability management.

Effective Vulnerability Remediation: 5 Strategies

1. Prioritize Vulnerabilities Based on Risk

Some vulnerabilities pose a higher risk than others, and understanding this distinction is key to effective remediation. The Exploit Prediction Scoring System (EPSS) helps you achieve this by assigning each vulnerability a score between 0 and 100. This score reflects the likelihood of the vulnerability being exploited in the next 30 days, allowing you to focus your resources on the most critical issues first.

Why is this important? Research shows that only a small fraction of vulnerabilities (2%-7%) are actually exploited, underscoring the value of EPSS scores. Also, attacks are on the uptick. The 2024 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report noted a staggering 180% year-over-year increase in attacks where vulnerabilities were the primary vector.

EPSS addresses the limitations of traditional vulnerability scoring systems like CVSS. While CVSS provides valuable insights into the severity of vulnerabilities, it doesn't directly predict exploitability. EPSS bridges this gap by leveraging real-world data and machine learning to provide a more actionable risk assessment.

Need more information on EPSS? Read this post: A Quick Guide for MSPs on Vulnerability Prioritization

2. Automate Scanning and Patching

Manual processes are not only time-consuming but also error-prone. Automation can significantly streamline vulnerability remediation. Implement tools that can automatically scan your clients' systems for vulnerabilities on a continuous basis. These tools should also be capable of automating third-party patching, ensuring that vulnerabilities are addressed promptly. With all endpoints receiving critical patches simultaneously, minimizing the window of exposure to potential exploits.

3. Regularly Update and Patch Systems

Timely patching is one of the most effective ways to mitigate vulnerabilities. Ensure that you have a robust patch management process in place. This includes not only operating systems but also third-party applications, which are often overlooked but can be just as vulnerable.

Encourage your clients to adopt a regular patching schedule. Explain the importance of applying patches promptly and the risks associated with delays. Use real-world examples to drive the point home. For example, the WannaCry ransomware attack exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that had been patched months earlier. Organizations that delayed applying the patch found themselves at the mercy of this widespread attack that an internal investigation concluded could have been prevented with “basic IT security.”

Reading tip: MoveIT, LastPass, and Other Breaches Prove Need for Proactive Security

4. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Assessments

Periodic vulnerability assessments are crucial to identify potential weaknesses before they can be exploited. These assessments should be thorough, covering all aspects of your clients' IT infrastructure. They should also include both automated scans and manual reviews to catch issues that automated tools might miss.

Consider conducting these assessments quarterly or whenever there are significant changes to the client's infrastructure, such as the deployment of new applications or the integration of new systems. Regular assessments help you stay ahead of emerging threats and ensure that remediation efforts are up to date.

Don’t miss this resource: How to Win Business with Cybersecurity Assessments

5. Foster a Culture of Security Awareness

Technology alone isn't enough to protect against vulnerabilities—human behavior plays a critical role. Educate your clients and their employees about the importance of security best practices. Conduct regular training sessions to keep everyone informed about the latest threats and how to respond to them.

For instance, phishing attacks are a common way for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. By training employees to recognize phishing attempts and respond appropriately, you can prevent many attacks before they start. Encourage clients to implement security policies that mandate regular password changes, multi-factor authentication, and other best practices.

Final Word

Vulnerability remediation is a continuous process that requires vigilance, consistency, and a proactive approach. By prioritizing vulnerabilities, automating scanning and patching, maintaining regular updates, conducting thorough assessments, and fostering security awareness, MSPs can significantly enhance their clients' security posture.

If you're looking for a comprehensive solution to streamline your vulnerability management efforts, ConnectSecure offers a B2B, multi-tenant platform, purpose-built for MSPs, that supports these strategies and more. With features like automated scanning, patch management, and detailed reporting, ConnectSecure can help you ensure your clients are protected against evolving threats.

Sign up for a Free 14-Day Trial to see ConnectSecure in action or book a Demo today.

Read more:
Selling Cybersecurity: What MSPs Can Tell Clients About Attack Surface
Automating Vulnerability Remediation: A Game Changer for MSPs
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