Traditionally, vulnerability scanning—credentialed and/or non-credentialed—has been predominantly a security compliance exercise driven by regulations (e.g. HIPAA, FFIEC) or industry standards (e.g. PCI). The underlying rationale is that periodic scanning is a basic security hygiene process to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities and to demonstrate that security vulnerabilities are regularly patched or fixed. Most organizations perform quarterly scans, some monthly, some less than that.
Much like housekeeping, vulnerability scanning is a continuous process: you are never done. As vulnerabilities are patched or remediated, new ones are discovered even in a relatively static IT environment.
As cyber threats increase at an accelerating pace, staying abreast of vulnerabilities and having near or real-time visibility into the vulnerabilities of the network is even more critical.
Why continuous scanning and visibility of vulnerabilities is critical
There are two major reasons why continuous visibility of vulnerabilities is critical in today’s cybersecurity environment:
- Acceleration of network devices being continuously on-boarded into the IT environment
- Increasing need to rapidly respond when a security breach or event occurs
Virtual computing and mobile devices are also increasing the rate of change within the IT. Virtual computing, whether on-premises or in the cloud, means that new system hosts are continuously being discovered in the network. Whereas it used to take weeks for a new host to be provisioned or deployed, now they are deployed within minutes. So every day or hour a new host may appear on the network which, if it is not scanned, introduces new vulnerabilities or re-introduces previously eradicated vulnerabilities.
BYOD, driven by the rapid adoption of mobile computing within the workplace, is also accelerating the rate of change within the network. Mobile devices are constantly logging into the network and introducing potential new vulnerabilities, again re-enforcing the need to scan these devices when they appear on the network.
Finally, in today’s cybersecurity environment, it is not if you will be breached or if a security event will occur, but when. Therefore, the most critical factor is to rapidly respond when a breach or event occurs. This means knowing your IT assets and security state. It means knowing which assets are vulnerable and need to be patched immediately. It means continuous scanning to ensure a known exploited vulnerability is not re-introduced into the network.
Periodic vulnerability scanning is no longer sufficient; continuous scanning is now required.
The accelerating rate of changes within the network—predominately driven by on-premises or in the cloud virtual computing and/or by mobile computing—also demands accelerating vulnerability scanning capabilities and processes.
Finally, continuous vulnerability scanning is a critical and necessary component to respond to a cyber breach or event caused by exploited vulnerabilities.
Find out more about Continuous Monitoring in Tenable’s Solution Story.