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Operations VPR Summary

by Cesar Navas
January 27, 2020

Operations VPR Summary

Many organizations attempt to proactively identify and patch every potential cybersecurity vulnerability in order to be protected from all known vectors of attack. However, with numerous vulnerabilities emerging daily, this goal is difficult to achieve. Tenable.sc is able to help prioritize mitigation efforts and help organizations understand the likelihood a given vulnerability will be exploited by using a combination of machine learning and threat intelligence to deliver the new Vulnerability Priority Rating (VPR). This report builds on the vulnerability results of the scans and provides a view of vulnerability and patch management over time. The report also shows the mitigated and unmitigated vulnerabilities to allow an operations team to effectively patch their systems.

In 2017, 15,038 new Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVEs) were published, up from 9,837 in 2016 – an alarming 53% increase. In 2018, there were 16,500 new CVEs. Since the average enterprise finds 870 CVEs across 960 IT assets every single day, patching all vulnerabilities is not practical. Organizations must reduce the problem set to a manageable size. Many organizations use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to rank what should be patched. However, CVSS is limited in its ability to aid operational effectiveness. Instead, businesses need to know the difference between vulnerabilities representing theoretical attacks versus actual risk, and then prioritize those vulnerabilities according to the risk level they pose. 

Tenable’s Research and Data Science teams have authored a new research technology called the Vulnerability Priority Rating (VPR) using a machine learning based approach called Predictive Prioritization. This report helps to present vulnerability data using VPR scores compared to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores. This approach allows management and security professionals to focus prioritization efforts on the vulnerabilities with the biggest impact to their organization, thereby reducing their attack surface and minimizing risk.

VPR uses a machine learning algorithm coupled with threat intelligence to analyze every vulnerability ever published in NVD (approx. 111,000 to date), Predictive Prioritization builds on CVSS to:

  1. anticipate the probability of a vulnerability being leveraged by threat actors, and 
  2.  differentiate between real and theoretical risks. 

VPR provides security teams with the unprecedented capability to tighten their focus and remediate the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest business risk.

Tenable.sc Continuous View® (Tenable.sc CV™) provides continuous network monitoring, vulnerability identification, and Predictive Prioritization technology. Tenable.sc CV is continuously updated with information about advanced threats, zero-day vulnerabilities, and Vulnerability Priority Rating using advanced data science techniques to predict which threats are the most likely to allow attackers to penetrate the network. The Data Science and Research teams at Tenable are constantly analyzing information from our unique sensors and delivering continuous visibility into the risk management efforts of the organization. This enables decisive action that transforms a security program from reactive to proactive. By scanning the network using active and agent base methods the security team can examine applications on the systems, the running processes and services, web applications, and configuration settings. Analysts now have a new tool to assist in the continuous battle against malicious actors.

This report contains the following chapters:

Executive Summary: The Executive Summary chapter illustrates the overall vulnerability and mitigation in the network. The chapter establishes vulnerability counts over time along with a heat map to illustrate levels of risk across the network. This chapter focuses on vulnerabilities discovered in the network in relation to their VPR score to show how many higher risk vulnerabilities are being detected. This chapter will also assist operation teams in identifying the mitigated vulnerability counts along with how they are spread along the VPR range.

Vulnerability Status: The Vulnerability Status chapter will show the currently vulnerable systems on the network. The operations team utilizes the information in this chapter to understand exactly where patch efforts should be prioritized. This chapter also shows how vulnerable the network currently is by displaying vulnerability counts split up by the subnet they are in. Operations teams can use this chapter to determine the exact vulnerabilities and hosts that may require attention.

Mitigation Status: The Mitigation Status chapter provides mitigation efforts performed by the operations team. The operations team uses the data in this chapter to show progress in mitigation efforts as they relate to risk identified using VPR. The source of the data shown in this chapter is mitigated, therefore results will differ from the previous chapter.

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