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The Virtual Patch Analyst

by Augusto Barros  |  March 7, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Is there a need, or place for a “virtual patch analyst”?

If you look at our guidance on vulnerability management, you’ll see that one of the key components we suggest our clients to consider is preparing for mitigation actions, when the immediate vulnerability remediation is not possible. We often see organizations scrambling to do it because they haven’t spent time in advance to build the process, and they don’t have a menu of prepared mitigations to use. Those could include the NIPS, WAFs, etc, but how many would be comfortable to rush the implementation of a “block” signature on those?


Normally this wouldn’t require a FTE, but big organizations could in fact have enough work on this to justify one. Keeping in mind there are many mitigation options, including NIPS, WAF, HIPS, vendor workarounds, application control, additional monitoring, etc. So, one of the challenges for such role to exist is the broad skillset required. Someone capable of understanding the implications of SMB protocol configuration tweaking on Windows and, at the same time, able to write a WAF signature? Hard, but not impossible.

Even if the complete skillset to create the mitigation actions is something hard to find on a single professional, there’s still a lot of work around coordination and process management. The virtual patch analyst may not need all those skills, just some basic understanding of what is being done on each case. The bulk of the work is maintaining the menu of options, getting the right people engaged to develop them and coordinating the process when one needs to be implemented.  Having such role as part of a vulnerability management team is something a big enterprise could do to ensure unacceptable risks are mitigated while a definitive solution for them is not available.

Is there anyone out there working on such role? I would love to hear more about it!


Category: vulnerability-management  

Tags: mitigation  virtual-patching  vulnerability-management  

Augusto Barros
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Augusto Barros is Research Director in the Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) Security and Risk Management group. Read Full Bio

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