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When known software vulnerabilities are unmanaged, uncorrected, or undetected, attack vectors are left open to exploit the software. As a result, vulnerable software becomes a key target that attackers can use to initiate an attack on an organization’s network and expand control to attack other components on the network. By managing software vulnerabilities, the level of effort needed to initiate such an attack and expand control to other components on the network is greatly increased. Automated assessment of security controls that support management of known software vulnerabilities and weaknesses helps verify that the software vulnerability management capability is working. To facilitate this effort, NIST and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) researchers have developed an automated process to assess the effectiveness of the security controls that provide the information security capability known as Software Vulnerability Management (VUL), the focus of which is to manage risk created by defects present in software on the network.
NISTIR 8011 Volume 4, Automation Support for Security Control Assessments: Software Vulnerability Management, provides an operational approach for automating security control assessments to manage vulnerabilities in software. This approach is consistent with the NIST Risk Management Framework as described in NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-37 and the guidance in NIST SPs 800-53 and 800-53A. Previous volumes in the NISTIR 8011 series include: Volume 1 (Overview), Volume 2 (Hardware Asset Management), and Volume 3 (Software Asset Management).