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Two interesting observations:

The average number of days that attackers were present on a victim’s network before being discovered is 146 days. (FireEye)

We have observed that a majority of the market is moving toward automated security vulnerability and configuration scanning.

You would be hard pressed to come by a compliance framework that did not require you to have a system to detect and manage vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are as old as technology itself, so to call yourself compliant, you first need to demonstrate that you have a sound vulnerability management program in place.

Vulnerability management systems identify common vulnerabilities and exposures (also known as CVEs), alerting you when a server or package is at risk so you can patch it immediately.

Simply by having a vulnerability management program in place, you can often satisfy many other major compliance requirements. In this post, we’ll explain how vulnerability management helps you to become compliant.

1. Vulnerability Management’s Role in Compliance

When it comes to compliance, the name of the game is being able to effectively manage risk. Naturally, vulnerabilities are risks, and every company faces them. But less than 10 percent of organizations actually check for these before deploying a server or application to production. In addition, more than 70% of applications released have one or more known vulnerable components in use.

Why is this happening? It’s not that companies don’t know how to manage it. More often than not, development teams will circumvent the chain of command by installing unauthorized packages or, worse, manually install packages, in order to get their work done. With security left in the dark, detecting and responding to vulnerabilities becomes next to impossible. We’ll venture to guess your auditors would not like to hear that.

Especially if you’re operating in a software-defined environment, you can solve for this by implementing vulnerability management at the workload layer, or the deepest layer of your cloud environment. This way, vulnerability management becomes a part of your continuous development cycle, it doesn’t hinder developers from getting work done, and it automatically ensures that packages are scanned and your team is alerted before something goes out into the wild. You have complete visibility, and the risk is managed by actively monitoring the deployment.

With development, security, and compliance teams working together in a unified manner, the compliance process will go a lot smoother. And when you know exactly what needs to be patched and where, you can make those changes happen in real time and ensure compliance each and every day. The net outcome supports compliance with a process that unifies DevOps and Security teams, allowing for speed with a strong security posture. A win-win.

2. Stay Focused on the Highest Priority Compliance Tasks

Compliance can be a challenging process. But with tools at your disposal to help you identify the highest priority action items that need to be completed to meet and ensure compliance, you can accelerate the compliance process and make it much easier to manage day-to-day.

A strong vulnerability management program can help you do this. A good vulnerability management program will automatically detect and alert you about new vulnerabilities anywhere within your environment. It will also surface the highest priority vulnerabilities so you’re always able to manage and focus on the most critical threats to your organization. These are ones that could put your data, customers, or users at risk.

By implementing vulnerability management early on in the compliance process, you can see exactly where the biggest opportunities for improvement are. Especially when you need to meet compliance on a deadline, you need vulnerability management on your side.

3. Manage Continuous Compliance

As we’ve said before, compliance is never just a one-time activity. Demonstrating compliance at the time of an audit is only the beginning; to be truly compliant, you need to manage it every day.

This is another area where vulnerability management can come in handy. The right vulnerability management program will automatically detect and manage critical activities like vulnerabilities for you, examining package information in real time. Whether an unauthorized server is spun up one day after the audit or 100 days after, you can guarantee you’ll know about it, as mandated by your compliance framework — whether that be HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC 2, or others.

Vulnerability Management as Part of Your Larger Security and Compliance Strategy

Vulnerability management covers a broad range of compliance and security best practices in one, and this can save you a lot of time in the face of stricter standards and higher volumes of threats.

With vulnerability management embedded deep within your software-defined architecture, it can aid many security and compliance processes and best practices. Connected to key systems and applications, your vulnerability management solution works to raise visibility, keep you in-the-know, and focus your team on the right issues at the right time.

Final Words . . .

If you’re just embarking on a compliance project — to unlock new business or to meet industry standards — and are unsure where to start or how to get it done efficiently, take some pointers from our latest free eBook: Fast-Tracking Compliance in the Cloud: A Guide to Meeting Customer Requirements Now