8 Vulnerability Management Tools You Should Know

Bruno Rossi
Bruno Rossi

8  min read | min read | 20/05/2024

What Are Vulnerability Management Tools? 

Vulnerability management tools are specialized software solutions designed to identify, assess, prioritize, and remediate security vulnerabilities within an organization’s technology infrastructure. These tools continuously scan for weaknesses in networks, applications, and systems, leveraging databases of known vulnerabilities to detect potential security threats. 

By providing an ongoing assessment of vulnerability status, these platforms enable organizations to address security flaws proactively, reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

The primary goal of vulnerability management tools is to automate the process of vulnerability detection and remediation. They offer features such as asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, prioritization based on risk, and integration with patch management systems to streamline the remediation process. This not only enhances an organization’s security posture but can also support compliance with regulatory standards and industry best practices.

 

Features of Vulnerability Management Tools 

Dynamic Discovery and Inventory

Vulnerability management tools can automatically identify and catalog all devices and software operating within an organization’s network. This process involves the continuous detection of new devices, applications, and services as they are connected to the network, ensuring that the security team has an up-to-date inventory of all digital assets and that unknown assets are rapidly investigated. By maintaining a comprehensive and accurate inventory, organizations can ensure that no asset is overlooked during the vulnerability assessment process.

These features enable organizations to gain visibility into their entire digital environment, with advanced tools supporting not only on-premises but also cloud-based and hybrid infrastructures. With dynamic discovery, security teams can identify unauthorized or rogue devices that may pose a security risk, while inventory management helps in categorizing and organizing assets based on their criticality and vulnerability status.

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning is a core function of vulnerability management tools, involving the automated examination of systems, networks, and applications to identify security weaknesses and potential vulnerabilities. These scans are typically conducted against a database of known vulnerabilities, such as those listed in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database, to detect issues such as outdated software, missing patches, or misconfigurations that could be exploited by attackers.

Scans can be performed on a scheduled basis or triggered manually, and they range from surface-level checks to deep-dive inspections for systems that require authenticated access. The results provide detailed insights into the security posture of the scanned assets, including the severity of detected vulnerabilities and recommendations for remediation.

Prioritizing Vulnerabilities

Prioritizing vulnerabilities is a critical feature of vulnerability management tools, enabling organizations to focus their remediation efforts on the most critical issues that pose the greatest risk to their operations. This process involves evaluating the severity of each detected vulnerability, considering factors such as exploitability, the potential impact of a breach, and the relevance to the organization’s specific environment and threat landscape.

Vulnerability management platforms often use scoring systems, such as the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), to rate the severity of vulnerabilities and help organizations prioritize remediation. By focusing on high-risk vulnerabilities first, organizations can allocate their resources more efficiently to address the most significant threats.

Real-Time Monitoring and Analysis

Vulnerability management tools provide continuous oversight of an organization’s network and systems to detect new vulnerabilities as they emerge. This capability allows for the immediate identification of security issues, enabling organizations to rapidly mitigate potential threats. Real-time monitoring combines with advanced analytics to assess the current threat environment, track emerging trends in cyber threats, and predict which vulnerabilities are most likely to be exploited.

By offering insights into real-time security events and analyzing patterns over time, these tools help organizations stay one step ahead of attackers. Security teams can use this information to adjust their security posture, implement strategic defenses, and ensure that their vulnerability management efforts are aligned with the evolving threat landscape.

Remediation Support

Remediation support is a key functionality of vulnerability management tools, guiding organizations through the process of fixing identified vulnerabilities to improve their security posture. This feature provides actionable recommendations for remediation, including patches, configuration changes, and best practices for securing vulnerable systems. 

Remediation support may also include integration with patch management systems, automating the deployment of patches to resolve vulnerabilities efficiently.

Furthermore, these tools offer capabilities for tracking the remediation process, allowing organizations to monitor progress, verify the successful application of fixes, and document actions taken in response to detected vulnerabilities. This aids in compliance reporting and the continuous improvement of cybersecurity measures.

 

Importance of Vulnerability Management in High-Risk Environments

Vulnerability management is important in any organization, but much more so in high-risk environments. Some industries are especially targeted by attackers, due to their vulnerable nature or the critical nature of their operations. Here are a few examples.

IoT

The proliferation of IoT devices has expanded the attack surface for many organizations, introducing unique vulnerabilities due to the often limited security features of these devices. Vulnerability management tools are critical in IoT environments to identify and remediate weaknesses before they can be exploited. These tools can scan IoT devices for known vulnerabilities, ensuring firmware is up-to-date and configured securely. 

Critical Infrastructure

For critical infrastructure sectors such as energy, transportation, and water systems, cybersecurity is paramount. These environments are increasingly targeted due to their essential nature, the potential for significant disruption, and the use of legacy equipment that often lacks basic security measures. By continuously monitoring and assessing the security posture of systems that control or support critical operations, organizations can mitigate risks and enhance resilience against sophisticated threats.

Healthcare

The healthcare sector faces numerous cybersecurity challenges, including protecting patient data and ensuring the availability of critical medical systems. Vulnerability management tools are essential in healthcare for identifying security weaknesses in a diverse ecosystem of devices and applications, from electronic health record (EHR) systems to medical devices connected to the network. Implementing these tools helps healthcare organizations comply with regulatory requirements, protect patient information, and ensure continuity for life-saving medical equipment.

 

Notable Vulnerability Management Tools

1. Sternum

 

Sternum is an internet of things (IoT) security and vulnerability management platform. Embedded directly in IoT devices, it provides deterministic security with runtime protection against known and unknown, zero-day threats; complete observability that provides data about individual devices and the entire device fleet; and anomaly detection powered by AI to provide real-time operational intelligence.

Sternum operates at the bytecode level, making it universally compatible with any IoT device or operating system including RTOS, Linux, OpenWrt, Zephyr, Micrium, and FreeRTOS. It has low overhead of only 1-3%, even on legacy devices. 

Learn more about Sternum for IoT vulnerability management

2. Greenbone OpenVAS

OpenVAS is a popular open-source vulnerability scanner, known for its comprehensive, frequently-updated database of vulnerability tests. It is designed to detect a wide array of vulnerabilities across operating systems and applications, from missing patches to configuration flaws, supporting both unauthenticated and authenticated scans. 

The Greenbone Community Edition includes OpenVAS along with a security assistant and a vulnerability management daemon. Greenbone offers a commercial service on top of the open source product with a broader range of vulnerability tests and additional features.

Source: OpenVAS

3. Qualys

Qualys provides a Vulnerability Management, Detection, and Response (VMDR) platform with a set of tools aiming to improve an organization’s security posture. The platform’s capabilities include managing vulnerabilities, detecting threats, triaging risks, deploying patches, and monitoring assets. 

Qualys VMDR’s continuous scanning feature identifies vulnerabilities as soon as they occur, leveraging threat intelligence and machine learning algorithms for accurate threat assessments and triaging. Furthermore, it can automatically deploy software patches for instant remediation.

Source: Qualys

4. Rapid7

Rapid7 provides InsightVM, a cloud-based vulnerability management solution that builds on the capabilities of its on-premises scanning engine, Nexpose. In addition to traditional scanning and monitoring functions, InsightVM provides added features for tracking, reporting, investigating, and remediating vulnerabilities. It can perform vulnerability scans across a hybrid environment, including cloud, physical, and virtual infrastructures, automating data collection from all endpoints.

The platform provides interactive dashboards with rich contextual data, while its automation capabilities enable automated patching and containment of vulnerabilities. InsightVM integrates with a variety of third-party tools, such as ticketing systems, patch management solutions, and SIEM tools.

Source: Rapid7

5. Tenable Nessus

Tenable, an exposure management solution used by over 40,000 organizations, provides vulnerability management capabilities based on its Nessus scanning technology. The solution proactively scans and monitors assets across an organization’s attack surface, conducting in-depth vulnerability assessments.

By integrating threat intelligence and vulnerability data, Tenable helps security teams respond strategically to identified vulnerabilities. It comes with over 200 integrations, enabling workflow automation and minimizing the effort needed for resolution of vulnerabilities.

Source: Tenable

6. Intruder

Intruder is a vulnerability management platform that can detect vulnerabilities in infrastructure, web applications, or APIs. It is easy to setup and use, enabling organizations to start scanning their environment within minutes. Intruder generates clear, actionable, and audit-ready reports to support compliance efforts, including standards like SOC 2 Type 2, and easily integrates into CI/CD pipelines to streamline DevOps practices. 

The platform can scan both authenticated and unauthenticated web applications and APIs, and provides a continuous penetration testing feature, monitoring the network perimeter for new vulnerabilities while enabling deeper manual inspection of discovered vulnerabilities.

Source: Intruder

7. CrowdStrike Falcon Spotlight

CrowdStrike’s Falcon Spotlight utilizes the cloud-native CrowdStrike Falcon platform, with its unified agent, to provide a full vulnerability management solution. This approach eliminates the need for managing scanners and negotiating scan windows, simplifying the vulnerability management process and ensuring that the data collected is current and actionable.

Falcon Spotlight enables real-time, automated vulnerability management, prioritizing risks as they emerge. The platform integrates threat intelligence to help security teams understand vulnerabilities alongside threat actor profiles and techniques. Falcon Spotlight provides the ExPRT.AI prioritization model which promises to improve prioritization efficiency by 200%.

Source: CrowdStrike

8. Cisco Vulnerability Management

Cisco Vulnerability Management (formerly Kenna.VM) is a risk-based vulnerability management platform. It identifies and ranks vulnerabilities based on their potential impact, using advanced algorithms and information from both internal and external intelligence sources to provide actionable insights and suggested fixes.

According to Cisco, the system can predict and prevent exploits with up to 94% accuracy. It accesses more than 19 threat intelligence feeds, offering a broad view of the current threat landscape and enabling real-time adjustments to security postures. The platform integrates with other Cisco security solutions, including Cisco Secure Endpoint, Talos, and Cisco XDR, to provide a unified approach to vulnerability management and threat detection.

 

Conclusion

Vulnerability management is an essential component of modern cybersecurity strategies, enabling organizations to proactively identify, prioritize, and address security weaknesses before they can be exploited by malicious actors. This discipline is critical for maintaining the integrity and security of information systems and protecting sensitive data across a variety of industries. 

By implementing effective vulnerability management practices, organizations not only enhance their defense against external threats but also strengthen their compliance with regulatory requirements, safeguarding their reputation and improving operational stability.

Learn more about Sternum for IoT vulnerability management

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