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Five Questions to Ask Before Choosing an RBVM Platform

People meeting and asking questions

Choosing a risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) solution can be daunting. Where do you begin? What features are available, and what are the real potential benefits in the context of your organization? Knowing the right questions to ask before choosing an RBVM platform is crucial. 

Each organization is distinctive, so your needs, strengths, and weaknesses are as unique as your threats, vulnerability, and risk appetite. In our work helping organizations implement their own RBVM solutions, we’ve collected the most pertinent questions you should ask as you start your search for the RBVM platform that will best meet your needs. 

Five Questions to Ask of an RBVM Solution

An RBVM platform is the best way to help your organization prioritize remediation based on the risk associated with the vulnerabilities you encounter. As you begin an earnest search for an RBVM solution, put together a list of essential questions to guide you—and here are five good questions to ask before choosing an RBVM platform.  

Question 1: “How will this RBVM platform operate within my existing tech stack and environment?”

Why it matters:

The number of security tools available for teams to choose from can seem overwhelming. Each has a specific purpose, and some do one thing better than another, but might be weak somewhere else. In addition to determining the tool that best meets your needs, you must also consider whether it fits your existing tech stack and environment.

The most useful RBVM platforms have wide integration capabilities and should fold relatively seamlessly into your existing tech stack. When weighing your various options, if an RBVM platform requires you to bend to accommodate it, you should reconsider its viability as an option. An inelegant process introduced into your workflows will only add frustration and consume valuable time. 

Question 2: “What insight does the RBVM platform provide into why a particular vulnerability was prioritized and scored the way it was?”

Why it matters:

You need to know which vulnerabilities present the most significant risk to your organization, so that you know which issues to address first. So, the ability of an RBVM solution to provide risk-based vulnerability prioritization is essential.

However, to have confidence in your RBVM’s prioritization, you must understand the factors used to derive each risk score. Knowing only the input and the output without visibility into the scoring process is insufficient. 

Most RBVM platforms are black boxes in that they provide no insight into their internal workings and how the prioritization algorithms achieve their results. The more you know about what goes into a specific prioritization score, the better you can evaluate the results. 

Question 3: “What are the reporting capabilities of the platform?”

Why it matters:

Various individuals throughout your organization need to know that the security posture is improving—and progress is only known when it is communicated. By gathering the desired KPIs of stakeholders at various levels, you can build the reports that enable them to see how the needle is moving. As a side benefit, by reporting out your security progress, you’re putting your RBVM solution in the spotlight, creating the means for further investment into your program.

An effective RBVM platform provides reports for both technical and executive stakeholders. Day-to-day technical users of the platform need to know what’s going on and where they should spend their time to maximize impact. 

In addition to technical tasks like investigation and vulnerability remediation, you also need your RBVM platform to communicate a high-level “state of the union” to non-technical executives. Your RBVM platform becomes much more valuable to your company’s overall operations when you can keep both groups in the know.

Question 4: “How does the RBVM platform improve remediations workflows?”

Why it matters:

Prioritizing your remediations in a risk-based hierarchy is critical, but an RBVM solution should do more than that. It should also improve and streamline the processes tangential to vulnerability remediation. 

A big part of what you want your RBVM solution to do is facilitate communication between security and ITOps. These two groups are different with diverse missions. If the RBVM platform you’re considering doesn’t improve the workflow between these two teams, don’t settle for something that does only half the job. 

You’ll want an RBVM platform that will improve how tickets are created and processed, and that seamlessly moves the information between teams. The ability to monitor, track, and report on inter-team workflows is essential as well.

Question 5: “Does a platform meet the needs of both technical and executive stakeholders?”

Why it matters: 

To get the maximum benefit from an RBVM solution, it must address the needs of technical teams as well as executives. Before you can make an appropriate determination regarding this ability, you must first define what is important to each stakeholder on each rung of the organizational ladder. 

Executives at all levels will require some information but not the same level of detail as the technical teams. Additionally, the CISO will have needs different from others in the C-suite. Only after these needs and expectations have been defined can you properly vet the right solution. 

For RBVM to be as successful as possible, you need a comprehensive understanding of what matters to create a unified front in solving the organization’s needs. If you don’t, you risk having whoever leads the evaluation process prioritize only what matters most to them and their day-to-day needs.

Finding the Best RBVM for Your Organization

With a bit of upfront work, you can take much of the pain out of deciding which RBVM solution will work best for your organization. Start with this list of questions before choosing an RBVM platform, add others you think of, and start querying the vendors. Also, be suspicious of any vendor that implies that your questions are not valid. This response probably means they know they can’t measure up. 

How does unified RBVM improve your vulnerability management program maturity? Read the analyst report to learn more.

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