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CIS CSC: Vulnerability Management (CSC 4) ARC

by David Schwalenberg
June 20, 2016

Vulnerable devices and applications on an organization's network pose a great risk to the organization. Vulnerabilities such as outdated software, susceptibility to buffer overflows, risky enabled services, etc. are weaknesses in the network that could be exploited. Organizations that do not continuously look for vulnerabilities and proactively address discovered flaws are very likely to have their network compromised and their data stolen or destroyed. The Vulnerability Management Assurance Report Card (ARC) provides insight into the effectiveness of the vulnerability management program implemented by an organization, and helps identify potential areas that may need to be addressed.

As defined by the Center for Internet Security (CIS), the Critical Security Controls are a relatively small number of prioritized, well-vetted, and supported security actions that organizations can take to assess and improve their current security state. Developed based on specific knowledge of the threat environment and currently available technologies, the Controls are informed by actual attacks and effective defenses and reflect the combined knowledge of many experts. This dashboard aligns with CIS Critical Security Control 4, Continuous Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation, which addresses identifying and managing vulnerabilities.

More details on each of the policy statements included in the ARC are given below. Clicking on a policy statement will bring up the analysis screen to display more details related to that policy statement. The ARC policy statement parameters are guides that can be customized as necessary to meet organizational requirements.

This ARC is available in the SecurityCenter Feed, a comprehensive collection of dashboards, reports, Assurance Report Cards, and assets. The ARC can be easily located in the SecurityCenter Feed under the category Executive. The ARC requirements are:

  • SecurityCenter 5.3.1
  • Nessus 6.5.4
  • PVS 5.0.0
  • LCE 4.8.0

Tenable SecurityCenter Continuous View (CV) is the market-defining continuous network monitoring solution. SecurityCenter CV includes active vulnerability detection with Tenable Nessus and passive vulnerability detection with the Tenable Passive Vulnerability Scanner (PVS), as well as log correlation with the Tenable Log Correlation Engine (LCE). Using SecurityCenter CV, an organization will obtain the most comprehensive and integrated view of its network.

ARC Policy Statements:

At least 80% of actively and passively detected systems have been scanned in the last 14 days: This policy statement displays the percentage of total systems that have been scanned in the last 14 days. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. Systems on the network are detected both passively by PVS and actively by Nessus. All systems should be actively scanned by Nessus to ensure that all current vulnerabilities are discovered and that remediation efforts are effective.

Less than 10% of systems have vulnerabilities with CVSS score 7.0 or greater: This policy statement displays the percentage of total systems that have vulnerabilities with CVSS score of 7.0 or greater. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is an open industry standard for assessing the severity of computer system security vulnerabilities. The CVSS attempts to establish a measure of how much concern a vulnerability warrants, compared to other vulnerabilities, so efforts can be prioritized. The scores range from 0 to 10. Vulnerabilities with a base score in the range 7.0-10.0 are the most critical and should be patched.

Less than 5% of systems have unpatched vulnerabilities where patch was published over 30 days ago: This policy statement displays the percentage of total systems that have unpatched vulnerabilities with a patch published over 30 days ago. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. Unpatched vulnerabilities can leave systems exposed to exploitation and should be patched within 30 days of patch publication.

Less than 5% of systems are running unsupported software: This policy statement displays the percentage of total systems that are running unsupported software. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. This policy statement looks for unsupported software on a network, which can include outdated operating systems, applications, browsers, and other software. Unsupported software can be prone to vulnerabilities, which can present serious security risks for an organization. Some systems may not be capable of being patched due to lack of vendor support, end-of-life, or other business requirements. Unsupported software should be monitored regularly to determine whether software can and should be updated.

No systems have exploitable vulnerabilities: This policy statement displays the percentage of total systems that have exploitable vulnerabilities. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. Systems with exploitable vulnerabilities can expose the network to increased risk of malicious activity and should be patched.

No Internet-facing systems have exploitable vulnerabilities: This policy statement displays the percentage of Internet-facing systems that have exploitable vulnerabilities. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. Exploitable vulnerabilities on Internet-facing systems can leave the network exposed to malicious activity and need to be remediated.

No security devices have exploitable vulnerabilities: This policy statement displays the percentage of security devices that have exploitable vulnerabilities. If the policy statement requirement is met, the result is displayed in green; otherwise, the result is displayed in red. Exploitable vulnerabilities on security devices such as firewalls and VPN devices can expose the network to a high level of risk and should be remediated.