How To Manage Vulnerabilities in Modern Cloud-Native Applications
The article describes how to secure cloud-native applications to identify, manage, and remediate vulnerabilities across the tech stack and ways of integrating security.
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Vulnerability management is a proactive approach to identifying, managing, and mitigating network vulnerabilities to improve the security of an enterprise's applications, software, and devices. It includes identifying vulnerabilities in IT assets, assessing risks, and taking appropriate action on systems and networks. Organizations worldwide invest in vulnerability management to protect systems and networks against security breaches and data theft. Often combined with risk management and other security measures, vulnerability management has become an integral part of today's computer and network security practices to prevent the exploitation of IT vulnerabilities, such as code and design flaws, to compromise the security of the entire enterprise network.
The Importance of Vulnerability Management
Despite the effectiveness of vulnerability management for many cybersecurity risks, organizations often overlook the implementation of robust vulnerability management processes, as evidenced by the sheer number of data breaches, and are, therefore, unknowingly compromised by patches and misconfigurations.
Vulnerability management is designed to investigate an organization's security posture and detect such vulnerabilities before a malicious hacker discovers them.
This is why implementing a vulnerability management program is essential for companies of all sizes. Powerful vulnerability management leverages threat intelligence and IT team knowledge to rank risks and respond quickly to security vulnerabilities.
Four Stages of Vulnerability Management
Several steps must be considered when creating a vulnerability management program. Incorporating these steps into the management process can help prevent the vulnerabilities from being overlooked. It can also correctly address any vulnerabilities found.
Vulnerability scanners are at the core of a standard vulnerability management solution. The scan consists of four stages.
- Scan systems that have access to the network by sending Ping or TCP/UDP packets.
- Identify open ports and services running on the scanned system.
- Log in to the system remotely and gather detailed system information.
- Associating System Information with Known Vulnerabilities
Vulnerability scanners can identify various systems running on a network, including laptops, desktops, virtual and physical servers, databases, firewalls, switches, and printers. The recognized methods are investigated for various attributes, such as operating system, open port, installed software, user account, file system structure, and system configuration. This information is used to associate known vulnerabilities with the scanned system. To make this association, the vulnerability scanner uses a vulnerability database that contains a list of commonly known vulnerabilities.
Scans have discovered all the potential known cybersecurity vulnerabilities, so it's time to evaluate and prioritize them. The scan may have found thousands of possible weaknesses, some of which pose a greater risk than others. To sort them out, vulnerability assessments must be conducted to evaluate or score all vulnerabilities in terms of the threat to the company if they are exploited. Many systems can be used for prioritization, but Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is one of the most referenced. It's essential to repeat this prioritization process every time you run a scan and discover new vulnerabilities to find those that are most critical to IT security.
If the vulnerability is verified and identified as a risk, the next step is to prioritize how it should be handled among the primary stakeholders of the business and network. The vulnerability can be addressed in the following ways:
- Rectification: Either completely fix the vulnerability or apply a patch to prevent it from being exploited. It is the ideal treatment the organization is aiming for.
- Mitigation: Mitigate vulnerabilities to reduce the possibility and impact of a vulnerability Exploited. It may be necessary if appropriate fixes or patches are not provided for the identified vulnerabilities. This option is ideally used to allow time for an organization to fix the vulnerability eventually.
Vulnerability managing solutions deliver advised remediation techniques for vulnerabilities. However, there may be better ways to repair the exposure than the recommended repair method.
Reporting and Follow-Up
Once you have addressed the published vulnerabilities, it's time to take advantage of the reporting tools in our vulnerability management solution. It gives the security team an overview of the effort required by each remediation technique. In addition, it allows them to determine the most efficient way to address the vulnerability issue in the future. Actions to take at this point include:
- Setting up patching tools.
- Scheduling automatic updates.
- Coordinating with your cyber-IT security staff.
- Setting up a ticketing system in case of a security issue.
These reports can also be used to ensure compliance with any regulatory agency in the industry by showing the level of risk of a breach and the actions taken to reduce that risk. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving, so vulnerability management assessments must be conducted regularly to reduce the number of vulnerabilities and keep network security up to date.
Ways to Integrate Security
1. Application security scan to secure CI/CD pipeline
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines are the foundation of every modern software organization that builds software. Combined with DevOps practices, the CI/CD pipeline allows your company to deliver software faster and more often. However, great power carries great responsibility. While everyone concentrates on writing secure applications, many people overlook the security of the CI/CD pipeline. However, there are legitimate reasons to pay close attention to the configuration of CI/CD.
2. Importance of CI/CD security
CI/CD pipelines usually require a lot of permissions to do their job. You also need to deal with application and infrastructure secrets. Anyone with unauthorized access to the CI/CD pipeline has almost unlimited power to compromise all infrastructure or deploy malicious code.
Therefore, securing the CI/CD pipeline should be a high-priority task. Unfortunately, statistics show that there has been a significant increase in attacks on the software supply chain in recent years.
3. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
Static Application Security Testing (SAST) complements SCA by assessing potential vulnerabilities in your source code. In other words, SCA can be based on a database of known vulnerabilities to identify vulnerabilities in third-party code. At the same time, SAST does its analysis of custom code to detect potential security issues such as improper input validation.
In this way, by running SAST at the beginning of the CI/CD pipeline in addition to SCA, you can gain a second layer of protection against the risks inherent in your source code.
4. Vulnerability scanning
Vulnerability scanning is an automated process that energetically determines network, application, and shield vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scans are typically performed by an organization's IT department or a third-party security service provider. Unfortunately, this scan is also served by attackers looking for entry points into the network.
Scanning involves detecting and classifying system weaknesses in networks, communications equipment, and computers. Vulnerability scanning identifies security holes and predicts how effective measures are in the event of a threat or attack.
In the vulnerability diagnosis service, the software is operated from the standpoint of a diagnosing side, and an attack target area to be diagnosed is diagnosed. The vulnerability scanner utilizes a database to correspond to the details of the targeted attack.
The database references known defects, coding bugs, anomalies in packet construction, default settings, and routes to sensitive data that an attacker may exploit.
5. Software composition analysis (SCA)
Software configuration analysis (SCA) is the process of automatically visualizing the use of open-source software (OSS) for risk management, security, and license compliance purposes. Open source (OS) is used by software across all industries, and the need to track components to protect companies from problems and open-source vulnerabilities is growing exponentially. However, since most software production involves operating systems, manual tracking is complex and requires automation to scan source code, binaries, and dependencies.
SCA tools are becoming an integral part of application security, enabling organizations to use code scanning to discover evidence of OSS, to create an environment that reduces the cost of fixing vulnerabilities and licensing issues early, and to use automated scanning to find and fix problems with less effort. In addition, SCA continuously monitors security and vulnerability issues to manage workloads better and increase productivity, enabling users to create actionable alerts for new vulnerabilities in current and shipping products.
6. Dynamic Application Security Test (DAST)
The DAST solution identifies potential input fields in your application and sends them various abnormal and malicious inputs. It can include an attempt to exploit common vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection commands, cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, long input strings, and abnormal input that could reveal input validation and memory management issues within the application.
The DAST tool identifies whether an application contains a specific vulnerability based on the application's response to various inputs. For example, if a SQL injection attack attempts to gain unauthorized access to data or an application crashes due to invalid or unauthorized input, this indicates an exploitable vulnerability.
7. Container Security
The process of securing containers is continuous. It must be integrated into the development process and automated to reduce manual touchpoints and extend to maintaining and operating the underlying infrastructure. It means protecting the build pipeline's container image and runtime host, platform, and application layers. Implementing safety as part of the constant delivery lifecycle reduces risk and vulnerability to growing attacks in your business.
Containers have security benefits, such as excellent application separability, but they also extend the scope of your organization's threats. A significant increase in the deployment of containers in a production environment makes them attractive targets for malicious actors and increases the system's workload. In addition, a single container that is vulnerable or compromised can be an entry point into the entire organization's environment.
8. Infrastructure Security
Vulnerability scanning is a complex topic, and organizations evaluating vulnerability scanning solutions often need clarification. Infrastructure vulnerability scanning is the process of running a series of automated checks against a target or range of targets in the infrastructure to detect whether there are potentially malicious security vulnerabilities. A target is specified as a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) that resolves to one or more IP addresses, IP address ranges, or IP addresses to be scanned.
An infrastructure vulnerability scan is performed across a network, such as the Internet. The scan runs on a dedicated scan hub and originates from it. The scan hub runs a scan engine to connect to the scanned target to evaluate the vulnerability.
Vulnerability management is a proactive approach to identifying, managing, and mitigating network vulnerabilities to improve the security of an enterprise's applications, software, and devices hosted in the cloud. It includes identifying vulnerabilities in IT assets, assessing risks, and taking appropriate action on systems and networks. Implementing a vulnerability management program is essential for companies of all sizes, as it leverages threat intelligence and IT team knowledge to rank risks and respond quickly to security vulnerabilities. The vulnerability management program consists of four stages: identifying vulnerabilities, evaluating them, remediating them, and reporting and follow-up. Integrating security measures, such as securing CI/CD pipelines, using vulnerability scanning tools, and implementing SCA, SAST, DAST, etc., can complement the vulnerability management program to provide a robust security approach.
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