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Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

Welcome to Security in Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Exploitability in Context

Posted March 28, 2012    Alejandro DaCosta

Every year there are literally tens of thousands of new vulnerabilities discovered across the various software and hardware technologies we rely upon every day. Simple math would seem to dictate an impossible task to manage all of these vulnerabilities and to make the real-world, priority-based decisions on them. Vulnerability management is one thing, but for enterprise IT and security teams to truly stay ahead of today’s sophisticated attack requires the combination of vulnerability management with threat and exploit intelligence – the processing and analysis of the big security data within your environment.

How are you prioritizing vulnerabilities?

One method to better prioritize your own plan of attack is by understanding which of the thousands of vulnerabilities are actively being leveraged by attackers to break into computer networks. For all the vulnerabilities discovered every year there is a much smaller percentage of vulnerabilities that are ever used within attacks. One of the very powerful capabilities of our Retina CS vulnerability management suite is the ability to quickly see which vulnerabilities have associated exploits, or are even being used by criminals in active exploit toolkits. The ability to run a point-in-time report that shows the mapping between your vulnerabilities and active exploits can be a very powerful tool in your arsenal in staying one step ahead of network attacks. This point-in-time capability is made even more useful when you marry that with the trending reporting made easily available in Retina CS. This provides that visual representation of your assets, their vulnerabilities and associated attacks over time – quickly telling you how organizational changes might be impacting your ability to manage critical vulnerabilities – for better or worse.

Understand your security exposure.

It’s important to keep track of historical data and be able to incorporate it in whichever fashion makes most sense to your environment and needs. Often times historical trending data can be too high level and lose its meaning or you are bound by pre-built trending reports. With Retina CS’s threat intelligence engine - Retina Insight – you can generate the trending data that is specific to your particular context – not what a security vendor thinks might be your optimal view.

As an example, maybe you want to track the number of open vulnerabilities with known exploits over time. Furthermore, you may want to enhance this data and filter by “Smart Groups” which can be assets within business units or operating systems, or assets directly queried from your Active Directory.

To add more context and intelligence to the report you may find yourself adding other parameters such as a filter by exploitable vulnerabilities that have been unpatched for X number of days, or filter by vulnerabilities which are fixable via a configuration change, security update or are of a zero-day category. These reports are easily created via our Pivot Grid with easy click and drag actions and will auto-generate both numerical and graphical representations of the data you want to trend. At the end of the day these highly customizable and automatable reports will enhance your understanding of your security exposure around the topics that matter must to you.

Security in Context.

So how quickly are you remediating exploitable vulnerabilities in your environment? How has your progress changed over time? If you cannot answer these questions, you might be in need of a more capable Threat Management solution.
Take a test drive of Retina CS now.

The report below shows number of open exploitable vulnerabilities per month by Smart Groups.

The report below shows the number of open exploitable vulnerabilities per month by operating system.

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