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Remediation Operations

Vulnerability management and effective vulnerability remediation operations play a vital part of any security team’s objectives, regardless of their industry. Organizations have strong motivations to update and maintain the security posture of their IT and security infrastructure, as they want to avoid the costs and damages accrued from an actual incident, as well as the legal fees, noncompliance fines, and any other damaging consequences that follow. As the stakes get higher, the emphasis on remediating vulnerabilities increases in parallel.

Even though vulnerability remediation operations are vital, most organizations are under-equipped to deal with the sheer number of vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and exposures that their scanning tools find across the cloud, codebase, and internal IT infrastructure. It’s extremely difficult to address all of these risks at the speed they’re being discovered, and for many organizations, tracking findings and their associated risk across disparate domains has become almost impossible.

What is RemOps?

Remediation operations (RemOps) is the coordination and automation of the processes that minimize vulnerability risk by mobilizing the right teams with the data and context needed to eliminate, reduce, or accept risks.

Why is RemOps Important?

As organizations attempt to secure their growing digital attack surfaces, they’ve been pressured to adopt a multitude of security tools for scanning, monitoring, and responding to risks. Although the adoption of additional tools has added an unprecedented level of visibility, it has also introduced a layer of complexity to remediation operations, as ensuring that all these siloed tools work together can be a daunting task. As a result, organizations are struggling to manage fragmented visibility, data overload, and cross-domain remediation efforts.

In response to this data overload, fixing teams across development, operations and devops have been required to remediate much more to keep up, and even though they’ve been doing more, they still aren’t keeping pace with the influx. With limited time and resources, it’s imperative they identify remedies that would make the greatest impact for overall risk reduction. Even necessary tasks like manual triage, task routing, and reporting divert time from actual remediation work, subsequently leaving organizations open to more risk and increasing the potential for catastrophic consequences. Organizations need to help their Dev and Ops teams identify remediation tasks that would have the greatest impact so they can maximize their time spent fixing.

A good Remediation Operations program includes a unified platform to organize, automate, and streamline the flood of vulnerability data organizations are struggling with. Fixing teams can then be automatically delivered the most pressing remediation requests, complete with all applicable business risk context in addition to the steps required for remediation. When implemented correctly, a RemOps program ensures teams remediate smoothly and collaboratively, drastically reducing the time and effort needed for coordination, clarification, and reporting. As a result, your organization can spend more time remediating and less time deciphering what should take priority, who should do the work, and what needs to be done.

RemOps in the Modern Tech Stack

Remediation Operations provides continuously updated insights into an organization’s security posture and is an indispensable foundation for implementing a next-generation vulnerability management program, especially one based on Gartner’s Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) framework. A capable Remediation Operations platform assists with all CTEM steps – Scope, Discover, Prioritize, Validate and Mobilize. It serves as the linchpin that connects cybersecurity solutions within the security testing stack by establishing a holistic exposure management process that leverages findings from key CTEM-enabling solutions such as External Attack Surface Management (EASM), Application Security Testing (AST), Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP), Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) and other testing and validation solutions. By incorporating and aggregating data from all these disparate, sometimes overlapping, sources, a RemOps platform provides a multi-dimensional defense strategy that is agile and adaptive to the dynamic threat landscape.

What Are the Benefits of RemOps?

A strong RemOps program will help an organization:

  • Accelerate Risk Reduction

On average, it takes security professionals over 5 days to identify and notify remediation owners of a fix request (Dark Reading “The 2023 State of Risk Reduction: A Need for Speed”). A RemOps platform automates task assignment to the appropriate teams, provides applicable business risk context and instructions for how to remediate, and makes it possible to immediately send fix requests to the correct team in their desired platform. This virtually eliminates the time required to coordinate and prepare requests, improving Mean Time to Remediation (MTTR) overall while maintaining consistent quality in remediation. 

  • Maximize Team Productivity

Dev and Ops teams often engage in necessary but non-risk-reducing tasks such as preparation, documentation, and reporting of remediation. These activities, including manual consolidation and deduplication of findings, drain time and energy. A RemOps platform automates these processes, prioritizes critical fixes, routes them to the appropriate teams, and monitors remediation status and Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance. This allows fixing teams to focus their efforts on remediation rather than administrative tasks, enhancing productivity.

  • Build Scalable Reliable Processes

The structured nature of RemOps ensures that each step in the remediation process is repeatable and scalable, accommodating the growth and changes within an organization. From the collection of security findings to the final reporting stages, each step is designed to be reliable and effective, regardless of the scale of operation. This reliability is crucial for organizations to maintain operational integrity as they expand or adjust their security measures.

  • Achieve Process Compliance

RemOps platforms also help maintain process compliance by ensuring remediation activities follow a structured approach and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met. Automating remediation operations streamlines the fixing process and simplifies internal audits and quality checks. Continuosly monitoring remediation progress helps to identify bottlenecks or delays, allowing organizations to proactively address issues to meet SLAs. By providing a clear and consistent record of remediation actions, RemOps helps organizations enforce and review their remediation operations protocols efficiently, enhancing overall process integrity and accountability.

  • Optimize ROI of Existing Testing Stack

On average, organizations are using 38 different security product vendors (Seemplicity Research, 2024). A RemOps platform prevents complications or slowdowns in remediation efforts caused by fragmented visibility due to multiple siloed scanning tools. RemOps platforms achieve this by consolidating disparate security scanner feeds into a single, normalized, and deduplicated backlog. This unified source of truth drives actionable remediation workflows that maximize the organization’s existing security investments. 

  • Understand and Achieve Remediation Objectives

A RemOps platform helps organizations maximize risk reduction, ensuring remediation teams address the most relevant vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and exposures first. Additionally, a RemOps platform reduces Mean Time to Remediation (MTTR) by streamlining remediation workflows, automating repetitive tasks, and providing actionable insights to fixing teams. Integration with ticketing systems and collaboration tools facilitates efficient communication and coordination among stakeholders, ensuring swift resolution. It also helps organizations maintain Service Level Agreements (SLAs) by monitoring remediation progress in real-time, identifying bottlenecks or delays, allowing organizations to proactively address issues to meet SLA deadlines.

Must-Have Features of a RemOps Platform

An effective RemOps program consists of seven essential steps that offer a structured template to ensure no critical actions are missed and that your remediation efforts are performed quickly and efficiently. They also help your organization spot abnormalities, evaluate remediation productivity, and adapt as needed.

Collect Security Findings

The initial stage of RemOps systematically and comprehensively gathers all security findings. Collect documented security risks and vulnerabilities identified through penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and other security assessment tools to ensure comprehensive coverage across all operational domains, including on-premises, cloud-based, code repositories, and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms.

Consolidate, Deduplicate, and Aggregate Findings 

Consolidate your findings into a central location, deduplicate repeats, and make sure your calculations for severity are normalized between different sets of findings. Many vulnerabilities have known mitigation measures, and RemOps aggregates vulnerabilities by common solutions, as well as by asset. In doing so, you’ll see the true amount of remediation work to be done. 

Choose Remediation Teams and Fix Priority

Choose whether one team, multiple teams, or even a single person will be responsible for the remediation work. Whether it’s by domain, priority level, or some other criteria, once you’ve defined each of these remediation teams, you’ll be able to send security findings quickly and consistently to the appropriate owners. You’ll also need to determine how you prioritize findings. Many organizations prioritize based on the type of risk mitigated, but sometimes it’s not that simple. Different companies have varying security priorities, so you may need to customize how you implement your priority scoring to align with the guidelines of your organization. This customization could even extend to individual remediation teams within your organization, allowing for more flexibility and adaptability in the remediation process. 

Route to the Fixer in the Appropriate Platform

Using native work management tools for remediation routing may sound simple, but it can become complex when you’re coordinating across multiple platforms. Routing remediation requests often means submitting tickets to multiple teams and even to specific individuals. With many testing tools and many testing teams, it’s quite easy for dev and ops teams to get duplicate requests to do the same thing repeatedly, which adds to stress and confusion. Security teams need to be able to route unique, consolidated requests to these teams in the work management platforms they use, providing clear instructions and relevant context for the task. Effective RemOps platforms keep track of where tasks should be routed, manage overall remediation workflows, and allow you to automatically populate and distribute requests in appropriate platforms like Jira, ServiceNow, etc. 

Receive and Accept Responsibility

One of the traits that sets a good RemOps program apart from a bad one is the ability to track if a request is received. When the vulnerability management team submits a request for remediation, the fixing party receives the request (in their preferred platform), and then accepts responsibility for remediation. Both sides will be able to see that the request was sent, who it was sent to, and if the request was accepted or not. This is much better than sending an email request and hoping it gets taken care of. Unique cases may need additional teams to take action in the remediation process, or the request might need to be denied outright. As part of your RemOps program, outline how the fixing team can accept, clarify, reassign, or reject requests if necessary, and track the status along the way.

Remediate the Vulnerability

This is the point where the vulnerability is remediated. This may involve upgrading software, reconfiguring settings, patching, or removing vulnerable software entirely. Structuring and automating all the administrative and planning tasks that lead up to this point will go a long way toward helping remediation teams increase efficiency with their remediation work. Adding applicable context to requests outlining the problems, desired outcomes, methods and procedures will make sure everyone is aligned and understands their role in remediation.

Report the Remediation Status

Reporting remediation status is sometimes tricky to do, especially for large organizations. Remediation teams are happy to report the work they’ve done and checked off, but are understandably less inclined to report how many requests they’ve rejected, delayed, or reassigned. A successful RemOps program will monitor and document remediation progress, process compliance, and ensure if service level agreements are being met. This helps with compliance concerns and assuages anxiety over future audits.

Automate Remediation Operations with Seemplicity

Seemplicity’s Remediation Operations platform provides streamlined and automated vulnerability management workflows that accelerate risk reduction across cloud, code and infrastructure. It ensures that no critical steps are overlooked and allows for more efficient allocation of resources. The platform offers intelligent data-driven insights and no-code automation, which empowers security teams to determine the who, what, where and how of remediation with confidence and ease. By eliminating manual overhead incurred by a “fix-by-fix basis” approach, Seemplicity speeds up the remediation process to ensure organizations can meet and exceed their risk reduction and compliance targets.

Learn more about Seemplicity today.

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