Vulnerability Management: A Cybersecurity Strategy That Pays Dividends

Vulnerability Management

To understand the value of vulnerability management is to understand how much the digital environment has changed in the past decade and the potential cost of inaction. SAP systems, now more than ever, are intricately linked with other enterprise systems, cloud platforms, and a web of external partners and suppliers. From a security perspective, the implications are profound. 

This interconnectedness, while driving operational efficiencies and seamless data flows, significantly widens the attack surface, creating more potential entry points for threat actors to exploit. A breach in one system can rapidly proliferate across the network and jeopardize the entire ecosystem. 

SAP Turns Up Focus on Vulnerabilities

In 2023, SAP acknowledged this reality and announced a revision to its cybersecurity strategy. Rather than ransomware and malware attacks, the focus is now on addressing system vulnerabilities. Stricter regulations, hybrid environments, and economic pressures all contributed to this strategic shift. 

Interestingly, a 2023 Benchmark Report by SAPinsider on “Cybersecurity Threats to SAP Systems” revealed respondents ranked ransomware attacks, unpatched systems, and credentials compromise as top threats. SAPinsider observes all three are interconnected when it comes to root cause analysis: 

“Credentials compromise is the gateway for threat actors to infiltrate systems and plant ransomware or malware. Failure to regularly apply patches exposes vulnerabilities that allow hackers to exfiltrate data, plant malicious code, or traverse across the network.”

Attack Surface Expansion Brings Higher Risks and Costs

Vulnerabilities Reaching Record Number

The growing attack surface inevitably leads to more vulnerabilities the number of common IT security vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) has risen sharply in recent years. While they remained steady in the early 2010s, the worldwide annual tally began to climb in 2017, reaching an all-time high of 29,000 in 2023, according to Statista. (The CVE system provides a standardized identifier a CVE ID for a specific vulnerability or exposure).

Under Siege from Cyber Criminals

At the same time, cyber threats are not only becoming more frequent but also more sophisticated.  Security Magazine reports that artificial intelligence (AI) has also made it easier for cyber criminals to launch attacks with fewer resources or skills. BlackBerry’s 2023 Q2 Global Threat Intelligence Report underscored this disconcerting trend. Analyzing cybersecurity incidents targeting critical infrastructure and large organizations, the report found threat actors deployed about 11.5 attacks per minute across all sectors.

Cost Is Rising

Such incidents can come at a high price. According to IBM’s latest Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach reached $4.45 million in 2023, marking a 2.3% increase from the previous year and a significant 15.3% jump from 2020. In recent such news, Google agreed to pay $350 million to settle a long-running class action lawsuit filed after threat actors exploited a vulnerability in its now-defunct Google Plus platform, exposing the personal information of millions of users. 

The Answer to Cyber Threats: Vulnerability Management

With so much at stake, organizations have everything to gain from taking a proactive, rather than a reactive approach. Vulnerability management involves a systematic process to identify, classify, prioritize, remediate, and mitigate vulnerabilities in software and network systems. 

By identifying and patching vulnerabilities before they become breaches, organizations reduce the risk of having to activate the more costly and resource-intensive response and recovery steps. This process is not a one-time event but a continuous cycle of monitoring and improvement that helps organizations defend against cyber threats:

Identification of Vulnerabilities

The first step in vulnerability management is to identify the vulnerabilities within an organization’s systems and software. This is typically achieved through automated scanning tools that assess systems against known vulnerabilities, often referencing databases like the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) for known issues.

Classification and Prioritization

Once vulnerabilities are identified, they need to be classified and prioritized based on their severity and the potential impact on the organization. This helps in allocating resources effectively, ensuring that the most critical vulnerabilities are addressed first. Far from every vulnerability poses a serious threat so it makes no sense to try to tackle them all at once or randomly conduct patching. 

Remediation and Mitigation

The next step involves taking appropriate actions to remediate identified vulnerabilities. This can include applying patches, making configuration changes, or employing workarounds. In some cases, where immediate remediation is not possible, mitigation strategies may be implemented to reduce the risk posed by the vulnerability.

Continuous Monitoring

Vulnerability management requires continuous monitoring of the organization’s digital environment to detect new vulnerabilities as they emerge. Cyber threats evolve rapidly, and new vulnerabilities are discovered regularly, making ongoing vigilance essential.

Compliance and Reporting

Effective vulnerability management also supports compliance with regulatory and industry standards, which often mandate regular vulnerability assessments and timely remediation of security issues. Reporting mechanisms within vulnerability management programs provide visibility into the organization’s security posture and compliance status.

Role in Preventing Exploitation

By systematically identifying, prioritizing, and addressing vulnerabilities, organizations can significantly reduce the attack surface available to cybercriminals. This proactive approach to security makes it more difficult for attackers to exploit known vulnerabilities, thereby protecting sensitive data and critical systems from unauthorized access, data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other cyber threats.

Vulnerability Management by oXya

In response to the expanding threat landscape and the specific vulnerabilities of SAP systems, oXya has introduced an innovative vulnerability management solution. Available on the SAP® Store, it equips SAP customers with a fast and easy way to manage all vulnerabilities on their SAP systems, significantly enhancing their cybersecurity posture.

Vulnerability Management by oXya, built on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), offers users a comprehensive overview of their SAP instances, highlighting active vulnerabilities and advising on all available patches and upgrades. This not only simplifies the vulnerability management process but also ensures that users can effectively secure their systems from potential threats.

Why Vulnerability Management Matters

Vulnerability Management by oXya addresses several critical challenges highlighted in recent surveys and reports. The difficulty of scheduling downtime for patching, competing business priorities, and the complexity of understanding which patches are most critical are all mitigated by this comprehensive solution. By automating the data collection process and providing actionable insights on vulnerabilities, the solution empowers organizations to prioritize risks and make informed decisions with a targeted approach, significantly reducing the potential for breaches and attacks.

A Strategy That Pays Dividends

Vulnerability management is a risk mitigation strategy that no organization should do without. With the increasing occurrence of cyberattacks and the high stakes involved in protecting sensitive data, the role of solutions like Vulnerability Management by oXya will only grow. This strategy not only protects against immediate threats but also pays long-term dividends by preserving the integrity of the organization’s data, maintaining compliance, and upholding its reputation. 

Contact us to learn more about what our SAP Vulnerability Manager by oXya can do for your organization, and if you would like a quick intro, make sure to watch this video


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