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What to Look for in a Cloud Vulnerability Management Solution

Note:  Nessus Cloud is now a part of Tenable.io Vulnerability Management. To learn more about this application and its latest capabilities, visit the Tenable.io Vulnerability Management web page.

The use of cloud solutions (Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is quickly becoming mainstream for many organizations: fast time to value, minimal on-premises infrastructure, minimal ongoing management/maintenance; what could be better for resource constrained IT organizations? Vulnerability management is no exception. Today there are multiple options if you’re interested in running a vulnerability management program from the cloud. But are cloud vulnerability management solutions the same as ones you run on-premises? And are all cloud solutions the same?

We asked these questions, and many others, in a panel discussion with industry experts Paul Asadoorian and Jack Daniel from Tenable, along with John Kindervag from Forrester Research. Paul, Jack and John had a great discussion and I encourage you to check out the on-demand recording when you have a few minutes. In the meantime, I’ll share a few highlights from the conversation.

Trust your provider, but challenge them on the security of their application

A question from Stuart B on "what are the main and/or perceived differences between a cloud vulnerability management solution and an on-premises vulnerability management solution" kicked off the conversation. Jack had a great point around a commonly perceived difference: Allowing a cloud application to keep your data in their cloud means you trust them to secure your data. While that’s true, Jack pointed out that if you trust a vulnerability management provider’s software to do everything it does, you already trust them. Whether your provider has an on-premises or cloud offering (or both), you should challenge them on how they secure their application and your data.

Cloud and on-premises vulnerability management capabilities are similar

John brought up that in general, the capabilities of vulnerability management solutions running on-premises versus cloud-hosted are very similar. Most vendors (including Tenable with Nessus Cloud and Nessus Manager) have similar solutions, just with different deployment models. While there might be some short-term limitations in the first iteration of a cloud-hosted version, providers generally do not have completely separate products for cloud and on-premises, so as a customer, you shouldn’t have to make a decision based on feature sets in the cloud versus on-premises.

Make the best cloud or on-premises decision for your organization

It isn’t just features that should be considered when choosing an on-premises or cloud vulnerability management solution. There are differences in how you deploy and manage them. For example, you might have regulatory or legal requirements that limit your cloud-hosted options (e.g., if your organization falls under the European Union Data Directive, you’ll want your cloud provider to have a datacenter to store data within Europe). Or if you live somewhere that does not have high quality Internet connectivity, your experience using a cloud-hosted solution will not be optimal.

Whether your provider has an on-premises or cloud offering (or both), you should challenge them on how they secure their application and your data

On the other hand, there are organizations where cloud is a better solution than on-premises. Deploying software in-house means having people who can manage them hands-on. If an organization does not have the people to stand up the systems and manage, monitor and update them, cloud can be a better option. These organizations can be big or small – being big doesn’t always mean you have an excess capacity of human resources.

Paul brought up a great point that in many cases, when you work with a cloud vulnerability management provider, many have entire teams dedicated to different aspects of security, including very specific areas like virtualization and hypervisor security. For organizations that may not have that depth of security resources, working with a cloud vulnerability management provider can deepen their bench.

We covered so much more in our 1-hour conversation, including a long discussion specifically about securing cloud infrastructure and SaaS applications. I’ll highlight other areas in future blog articles or you can listen to the entire conversation now via the on-demand recording.

Watch the recording