How to Improve Your SOC’s Cyber Vulnerability Awareness

SOC Cyber Vulnerability Awareness

The cybersecurity threat landscape is rapidly evolving as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices, and remote work become more widely adopted. As a result, Security Operations Center (SOC) teams are increasingly overwhelmed.

In addition to responding to cyber threats, teams must continuously identify emerging vulnerabilities and move quickly to apply and test patches and updates. A failure to do so significantly increases cyber risk. Consider the statistics:

Research by Marsh McLennan and Bitsight found that the SOC’s ability to quickly and effectively remediate vulnerabilities is significantly correlated with a reduced probability of experiencing a cyber incident. 

Yet, a separate study by Bitsight found that the cybersecurity vulnerability remediation rate for over 100,000 organizations around the world currently sits at a critically low 5% per month. Although vulnerability management is a vital part of reducing cybersecurity risks, this study shows that many organizations fail to implement an effective vulnerability management program.

To be effective as a security leader you must find ways to help your SOC teams improve cyber vulnerability awareness and time to remediate. Achieving this requires the right tools, procedures, and processes. Let’s explore how.

1. Identify your attack surface

The complexity of today's digital environments makes it extremely difficult for SOC teams to discover and understand their attack surface, including vulnerable enterprise assets and systems. This lack of visibility can leave your organization vulnerable to breaches, ransomware, and other cyber threats.

However, using attack surface analytics, you can automatically and continuously take inventory of your digital assets far beyond your traditional network perimeter. For instance, Bitsight Attack Surface Analytics provides a complete picture of your organization’s attack surface — on-premises, in the cloud, and throughout the supply chain. 

With Bitsight’s dashboard views, you can gain visibility into your digital assets, discover shadow IT, and visualize areas of disproportionate risk; arming your SOC with the information it needs to identify and remediate risks across your expanding digital infrastructure.

2. Prioritize known exploited vulnerabilities

Visibility is only the start. The next step is to prioritize known vulnerabilities based on their risk and criticality.

Typically, this involves checking CISA’s Known Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog and the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Program’s CVE record list as well as keeping an eye out for software vendor news alerts and updates.

This sounds like a straightforward task. Nevertheless, the volume of patches and the decision about when to patch can complicate things. Patching every vulnerability at once comes with risks and isn’t the most efficient way to manage your team’s time – especially if you patch manually. A better approach is to prioritize systems and software that are most vulnerable.

For instance, use Bitsight Security Ratings to shine a light on vulnerable, unpatched software and out-of-date operating systems. Using these insights, you can prioritize which systems should be patched first based on their risk level and importance to operations, and which can be delayed.

3. Monitor third-party cyber risks

A successful attack on your third-party vendors and relationships could potentially result in business disruption, financial loss, reputational harm, and even compromise your internal systems and data. But managing third-party cyber risk is anything but simple.

A security assessment usually involves sending vendors security questionnaires and tracking their responses manually using spreadsheets and calendar entries. This approach makes it difficult to swiftly and accurately assess and address cyber risks, particularly new zero-day vulnerabilities that may arise.

Consider a fully integrated solution, like Bitsight Vendor Risk Management (VRM), which combines workflow automation with objective data to evaluate third-party vendors and help you work smarter, not harder. With Bitsight VRM, you can:

  • Automate the assessment process and reduce dependency on email follow-up, spreadsheets, calendar reminders, and so on. 
  • Layer in independent validation of vendor responses using security ratings so that you can automatically understand your third parties’ true security postures and detect red flags in their responses.

Use custom security questionnaires to understand your vendors’ alignment with security certifications, cybersecurity frameworks, and regulations – specific to your industry. 

Then, continuously monitor your vendors’ security postures over time. Bitsight Third-Party Risk Management automatically and continuously monitors your partners and vendors for cyber risk, such as unpatched systems and other vulnerabilities, and alerts you the moment risk is detected. In addition, you can invite your vendors to collaborate within the Bitsight platform for an outside-in view of their security data, allowing quicker and more efficient risk remediation.

4. Communicate vulnerability management effectively with stakeholders

As you work to improve cyber vulnerability awareness and address critical issues, Bitsight can help communicate the result of your efforts to board members, executives, and other stakeholders.

Rather than confuse business leaders with technical jargon about the latest software vulnerability, Bitsight provides independent, objective analytics that enable you to have more effective conversations with business leaders about your organization’s true security posture.

With Bitsight, you can:

  • Benchmark security performance against industry peers and competitors. By tracking your Bitsight Security Rating over time and comparing it to the ratings of other companies, you can establish security benchmarks that reveal where your organization stands and where improvement is needed.
  • Create dashboard reports that display vendor risk trends, performance improvements, and the likelihood of a vendor experiencing a future cyber incident.
  • Quickly pull metrics that reframe the conversation about cybersecurity towards business risk. For example, you can present information on how many vulnerabilities you have in your digital ecosystem and their severity — i.e., their likelihood of contributing to a breach — or how many vendors in your portfolio have critical vulnerabilities and steps you’ve taken together to remediate them.

Based on these findings, executives and board members can make more informed decisions about where investments and resources are needed.

Optimize your SOC’s cyber vulnerability awareness with Bitsight

With the expansion of your organization’s attack surface and the increasing number of security vulnerabilities, you need innovative, automated end-to-end solutions to help you improve cyber vulnerability awareness and vulnerability management. You also need to be able to communicate your program’s effectiveness to stakeholders. Prioritizing exposure management and investing in effective tools and workflows are essential to reducing the likelihood of a cyber incident and creating a more trusted organization.