For agencies determined to create the most effective network security strategy possible, vulnerability management is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. 

If there’s anything we’ve learned in recent years, it’s that cyber threats just keep coming. Thwart one and a new one emerges shortly thereafter. In 2017 alone, the U.S. saw a 44.7% rise in data breach incidents—including WannaCry, the largest ransomware outbreak in history. Meanwhile, cybercrime damages are projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.

With cyber-attacks growing in both frequency and sophistication, federal IT teams face an overwhelming challenge: How do you meet unending regulations and compliance standards amid budgetary constraints, limited resources and demanding workloads? Moreover, how do you accomplish all of the above and keep pace with the ever-evolving tactics of modern-day attackers?

You need a vulnerability management solution designed to ensure maximum network visibility, proactive threat detection and regulatory compliance. For agencies determined to create the most effective network security strategy possible, vulnerability management is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Here are five reasons why.

1. Unpatched Systems Create Major Risk

The majority of organizations victimized by exploits fall victim because of unpatched systems. Indeed, almost every threat begins with or includes some type of malware that depends on a missed patch or update.

Often, by the time patches are applied to these systems, more than a year has passed—plenty of time for an attacker to successfully breach the network. Why does it take so long? There are several possible reasons, including resource shortages and individual users who fail to make software updates.

Lacking the right tools and strategy for patch monitoring and management, it’s impossible for IT teams to consistently prioritize and patch vulnerable systems. Tenable’s ACAS solution, however, allows you to scan 100% of your network assets for potential vulnerabilities, including missing patches.

2. It’s a Legal Requirement

Federal agencies face extraordinary pressure to remain vigilant against cyber-attacks. An essential aspect of that vigilance? Unwavering compliance with federal regulations and standards—particularly those aimed at network defense.

From the NIST Risk Management Framework to the Federal Information Security Management  Act (FISMA), there’s no shortage of standards and regulations that agencies must follow. For U.S. defense agencies in particular, implementing the Assured Compliance Assessment Solution (ACAS), powered by Tenable, Inc., is crucial to complying with Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) requirements.

Established by DISA in 2012, the ACAS solution helps defense agencies navigate the hurdles standing between themselves and better vulnerability assessment and management. The resulting solution is available to qualifying defense agencies through DISA at no charge, offering that much more incentive to get moving.

3. Network Visibility is Critical

You can’t protect what you can’t see.

Today’s networks are constantly growing, both in terms of users and devices. With more users and more applications creating more and more traffic, keeping track of who and what is on your network can be an uphill struggle. After all, between ever-increasing workloads and too little manpower, most teams lack the bandwidth to sort through a multitude of endpoints, applications and users to identify would-be threats.

Cyber threats, however, wait for no man. They don’t light signal flares to grab your attention, and they don’t give you a chance to catch up before wreaking havoc on your network. With the right vulnerability management solution, however, none of that is necessary.

Tenable ACAS, for instance, analyzes network traffic to not only identify what endpoints are connected, but also which applications are being used and their vulnerabilities.

4. The Best Security is Proactive, Risk-Based

Cybersecurity isn’t always black and white: What works in some cases might not work in others. Likewise, what’s necessary in one scenario might be overkill in another.

Consider, for example, a military base. In the mess hall or social-oriented areas, it might be fine to have more lenient restrictions, perhaps allowing video streaming or social networking sites. But in a combat zone? Not so much. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

With a vulnerability management solution, you can make risk-based security decisions that take into account specific nuances, such as location. As a result, you can monitor which applications are running on your enterprise network and which ones are prohibited.

5. Security Should be Scalable

In the defense space—especially in the military—you have workers constantly moving between roles, responsibilities and equipment, migrating from one scenario or location to another in rapid succession. Meanwhile, each move may come with new security requirements to consider. There’s no time to wait on IT to provision new laptops or systems based on individual users and their individual access controls, which can lead to multiple security issues and human error.

With ACAS, however, IT teams can quickly automate compliance checks and track who has which piece of equipment and where. You get a comprehensive view of all your deployed assets and endpoints, whether it’s a desktop, a tablet or a mobile phone. Best of all, as your network grows—with more devices and applications—Tenable solutions grow in parallel, ensuring that you can anticipate and prioritize even the latest threats as they arise.

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