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Practical Cloud Security by Chris Dotson

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Chapter 5. Vulnerability Management

In Greek mythology, Achilles was killed by an arrow to his only weak spot—his heel. Achilles clearly needed a better vulnerability management plan!1 Unlike Achilles, who had only one vulnerable area, your cloud environments will have many different areas where vulnerabilities can appear. After locking down access control, setting up a continuous process for managing potential vulnerabilities is usually the best investment in focus, time, and money that you can make to improve security.

There is considerable overlap between vulnerability management and patch management. For many organizations, the most important reason to install patches is to fix vulnerabilities rather than to fix functional bugs or add features. There is also considerable overlap between vulnerability management and configuration management, since incorrect configurations can often lead to vulnerabilities; even if you’ve dutifully installed all security patches. There are sometimes different tools and processes for managing vulnerabilities, configuration, and patches, but in the interests of practicality, we’ll cover them all together in this chapter.

Unfortunately, vulnerability management is rarely as easy as turning on automatic patching and walking away. In cloud environments, vulnerabilities may be found in many different layers, including the physical facilities, the compute hardware, the operating system, code you’ve written, and libraries you’ve included. The cloud ...

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