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Effectiveness of Third-Party Vendor Vulnerability Management Programs

An increasing amount of applications are designed out-of-house or complied using open-sourced and off-the-shelf codes. Organizations utilize a multitude of third-party applications, such as those for VPN connections and email management. Moreover, some of them even outsource the whole of part of their security operations centers to third-party service providers. Organizations are increasingly embracing the use of third-party or managed security service providers (MSSPs) to reduce cyber risk by leveraging threat intelligence and implementing patch management.

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These vulnerability management solutions function to identify both known and unknown threats in IT infrastructure and require substantial time and resources. Since most organizations lack the skillset to mitigate the various threats and resources to tackle most IT security functions, they have opted to outsource their security operations centers. However, the use of third-party vendors is also associated with diverse outcomes.

MSSPs gain access to their client’s network remotely, and these might open security holes, through which black hats can use to infiltrate into the network. This paper aims to examine the effectiveness of vulnerability management programs of organizations when utilizing third-party vendors for threat intelligence, or vulnerability scanning, and device patching. It will achieve so by comparing the efficiency of in-house and third-party vulnerability management programs.

Effectiveness of Vulnerability Management Programs when Utilizing Third-Party Vendors for Threat Intel or Vulnerability Scanning and Device Patching

Regular vulnerability scans and patches are essential proactive security measures for organizations. MSSPs provide perform and provide reports on comprehensive internal and external scans of an organization’s IT network. They do so by employing automated vulnerability scanners to scan databases, web applications, and hosts for threats, and ensure that the report sent lacks false positives. Furthermore, MSSPs also create and install patches that help mitigate vulnerabilities, which might later lead to the compromise of integrity and security information.

Reduced time to remediate vulnerabilities and better security outcomes

In IT, it is a rule of thumb that an organization should not evaluate its security. Evaluation should be performed either partly or wholly by a third-party vendor, or a combination of both. The literature illustrates that companies that assess their own IT security, without the input of third-party vendors do not generate a complete comprehensive analysis; hence, they miss out on essential information (Cezar, Cavusoglu, & Raghunathan, 2016).

Since there are many MSSPs in the cyber industry, there is constant competition among them. As a result, they contain a diverse portfolio of cybersecurity experts dedicated to providing specific security solutions. Moreover, MSSPs include a more experienced pool of experts than in-house security operation centers as they have interacted with a varied client base; thus they are exposed to different risk scenarios. Coupled with the use of the latest market-leading technological and threat insights, MSSPs can efficiently and quickly expose vulnerabilities and prioritize threats across a network.

On the contrary, in-house cybersecurity professionals are unable to keep up with the advancing myriad of threats emerging in the cybersecurity world as their practice is limited to a particular organization. Therefore, organizations must outsource part or whole of their IT security functions to MSSPs as they are more equipped and have the latest technology.

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More scalable and improved patch management

Leaving systems exposed and unpatched has been identified as the leading cause of data breaches (Verizon, 2018). Vulnerability management, particularly the vital process of strategic patch management, has placed a significant burden on organizations due to the presence of numerous vulnerabilities, the rate at which hackers are taking advantage of the vulnerabilities, and the complexity of corporate data centers. An excellent third-party device patching software is capable of identifying weaknesses in systems, hence facilitating the update of an organization’s security strategies and policies.

Most in-house security operations entail the use of Microsoft tools to deploy patches to their Windows environment. Microsoft releases over 300 patches annually, and most organizations require less than 30. As a result, this leads to the unnecessary installation of patches – patches are installed only because they are published leads to increased downtime and taking the risk that a patch might break existing functionality. Moreover, many serious network vulnerabilities are resultant of configuration issues rather than poor coding (Verizon, 2018).

According to Flexera (2018), 65% of software vulnerabilities are from non-Microsoft applications, even though they account for 33% of the apps in a Windows System. Third-party patch management overcomes the inefficacy of Microsoft as they are capable of mapping numerous software applications across Windows, Linus, and Mac OSx systems (Flexera, 2018).


More cyber risks are emerging every day, and organizations need to keep up with proactive measures that mitigate the threats. Third-party vulnerability management tools efficiently serve this purpose as compared to in-house security operations. This is mainly because they comprise updated, well-tested, and integrated technology. As a result, they lead to lower costs, superior protection, and better IT performance. On the other hand, in-house security experts lack the experience offered by mitigating threats in various organizations, hence their scope on how to identify and mitigate the various threats and vulnerabilities is limited.


Cezar, A., Cavusoglu, H., & Raghunathan, S. (2016). Sourcing information security operations: The role of risk interdependency and competitive externality in outsourcing decisions. Productions and Operations Management, 23(5), 860-879. Web.

Flexera. (2018). Vulnerability review 2018: Global trends. Web.

Verizon. (2018). 2018 data breach investigations report. Web.

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