Organizations are under growing pressure to implement effective vulnerability and patch management practices: In numerous recent data breaches, attackers have shown a tendency to exploit unpatched software flaws to gain access to critical enterprise applications and systems. Even relatively old and long-ago patched vulnerabilities continue to be exploited.
One example is EternalBlue, a leaked NSA exploit targeting a flaw in Microsoft's SMB protocol. Though Microsoft patched the remote code execution vulnerability in early 2017, nearly 1 million systems — over 400,000 of them in the US alone — remained unpatched as recently as June. Attackers are actively exploiting the flaw to deliver banking Trojans and other malware.
Digital transformation initiatives and trends such as cloud migration and enterprise mobility have also significantly expanded the attack surface at many organizations, underscoring the need for better vulnerability prevention, detection, and mitigation strategies. The adoption of DevOps, continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), and other application development and delivery models in recent years has similarly focused attention on integrating vulnerability scanning and remediation much earlier in the software development life cycle.
For organizations seeking to implement formal vulnerability and patch management programs, here are eight key trends to keep an eye on.