LDR516: Building and Leading Vulnerability Management Programs

  • In Person (5 days)
  • Online
30 CPEs
Vulnerability, patch, and configuration management are not new security topics. In fact, they are some of the oldest security functions. Yet, we still struggle to manage these capabilities effectively. The quantity of outstanding vulnerabilities for most large organizations is overwhelming, and all organizations struggle to keep up with the never-ending onslaught of new vulnerabilities in their infrastructure and applications. When you add in the cloud and the increasing speed with which all organizations must deliver systems, applications, and features to both their internal and external customers, security may seem unachievable. This course will show you the most effective ways to mature your vulnerability management program and move from identifying vulnerabilities to successfully treating them. 16 Cyber42 and lab exercises

What You Will Learn

Stop Treating Symptoms. Cure The Disease.

Whether your vulnerability management program is well established, or you are just getting started, this course will help you think differently about vulnerability management. You will learn how to move past the hype to successfully prioritize the security vulnerabilities that are not blocked, then clearly and effectively communicate the risk associated with the rest of the vulnerabilities in your backlog that, for a variety of reasons, cannot currently be remediated. You'll also learn what mature organizations are doing to ease the burden associated with security vulnerability management across both infrastructure and applications as well as across both their cloud and non-cloud environments. LDR516 is based on the Prepare, Identify, Analyze, Communicate, and Treat (PIACT) Model.

LDR516 helps you think strategically about vulnerability management in order to mature your enterprise security's program, but it also provides tactical guidance to help you overcome common challenges. By understanding and discussing solutions to typical issues that many organizations face across both traditional and cloud operating environments, you will be better prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Knowing that many organizations are adopting cloud services in addition to continuing to manage their more traditional operating environments, we'll also look at different cloud service types throughout the course and how they impact the program both positively and negatively. We will highlight some of the tools and processes that can be leveraged in each of these environments and present new and emerging trends.

"This course is essential for both well-established and developing vulnerability management teams." - Robert Adams, CBC

"It is excellent for people who are creating and implementing their VMP. The course is detailed, thorough, and sets clear expectations for a successful program." - Rachel Parkhurst

What Is Vulnerability Management?

Vulnerability management is the program and related processes for identifying, analyzing, communicating, and treating potentially security impacting defects or flaws in systems and software throughout an organization in a defined and measurable manner.

Business Takeaways

This course will help your organization:

  • Understand what is working and what is not working in modern day vulnerability programs
  • Anticipate and plan for the impacts related to cloud operating environments
  • Realize why context matters and how to gather, store, maintain, and utilize contextual data effectively
  • Effectively and efficiently communicate vulnerability data and its associate risk to key stakeholders
  • Determine how to group vulnerabilities meaningfully to identify current obstacles or deficiencies
  • Know which metrics will drive greater adoption and change within the organization
  • Understand what remediation capabilities are available to assist technology teams in resolving vulnerabilities and proactively

Skills Learned

  • Steps to create, implement, or mature your vulnerability management program and receive buy-in from your stakeholders
  • Techniques for building and maintaining an accurate and useful inventory of IT assets in the enterprise and the cloud
  • What identification processes and technologies are effective across both infrastructure and applications and how to configure them appropriately
  • Which common false positives or false negatives to be aware of in your identification arsenal
  • How to prioritize unblocked vulnerabilities for treatment based on a variety of techniques
  • Effectively report and communicate vulnerability data within your organization
  • Ability to identify and report on the risk associated with vulnerabilities that are blocked and cannot currently be prioritized for remediation
  • A better understanding of modern treatment capabilities and how to better engage with treatment teams
  • Talent for making vulnerability management more fun and engaging for all those involved
  • Differentiating how to deal with application layer vulnerabilities versus infrastructure vulnerabilities
  • An understanding of how our strategies and techniques might change as we move to the cloud, implement private cloud, or roll out DevOps within our organizations

Hands-On Vulnerability Management Training

LDR516 uses the Cyber42 leadership simulation game, critical thinking labs based on outlined scenarios, and demonstrations to provide you with the information you need to skillfully fight the VM battle. Cyber42 helps students absorb and apply the content throughout the course. In this web-based continuous tabletop exercise, students play to improve security culture, manage budget and schedule, and improve specific vulnerability management capabilities at the fictional organization, The "Everything Corporation" or "E Corp". This puts you in real-world scenarios that require you to think through various options for improving the organization's maturity by responding to specific events.

The following is a brief description of the different game components and other labs by section:

  • Section 1: The Everything Corporation Company Overview, Round 1 Initiative Selection, Practice Event: Improve VM Program Image, and Events 1 - 3: Audit Action Item - VM Policy & Standards, Shadow Cloud Usage, and Asset Inventory; Policy & Standards Review, Moving to the Cloud, Asset Management - Critical Attributes, Leveraging Asset Context Domo, Azure Data Explorer, & Axonius Demonstrations.
  • Section 2: Round 2 Initiative Selection; Events 4-6: Gap in Coverage, Space Race, Misconfigured Blob Storage, and; Scanning Techniques, Scan Validation, Pipeline Integration
  • Section 3: Events 7-9: Healthcare Threat Intelligence Sharing, Error - Does Not Compute, and Inaccurate Report; Round 3 Initiative Selection; Contextual Prioritization, Adding Solution Groups and Types ServiceNow Demonstration
  • Section 4: Events 10-12: Can't Patch or Won't Patch, Problems with Aging, Third-Party App Downloads; Round 4 Initiative Selection; Changing Culture, Gold Image Pipeline Demo, Remediation Effectiveness
  • Section 5: Events 13-17: Support for the Program, E-commerce Oops, Legacy Systems, Code Coverage Challenge, and Space Race Part 2-The Board Meeting; Vulnerability Management Buy-In

"Excellent labs. More fun than I thought possible with vulnerability management." - Page Jeffery, Newmont

"I have really enjoyed the discussions around these labs and hearing similarities from other users. I think this format for labs is fun." - Isaac Philbrook, Premera

"Great experience with Cyber42!!" - Yann Esclanguin, Caterpillar

Syllabus Summary

  • Section 1: Course overview, policies and standards, cloud design considerations, and cyber asset attack surface management
  • Section 2: Identification challenges, processes, and technology across both infrastructure and applications
  • Section 3: Analysis, metrics, and communication techniques for effectively influencing action
  • Section 4: Common treatment or remediation processes and technologies
  • Section 5: Getting buy-in and advancing your program

Additional Free Resources

What You Will Receive

  • Student manuals containing the entire course content and lab introductions and debriefs
  • Access to lab materials and bonus content and videos on the class website
  • Access to the Cyber42 security leadership simulation game
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture

What Comes Next

Syllabus (30 CPEs)

Download PDF
  • Overview

    This section looks at why vulnerability management is important and introduces the course. We then provide an overview of the cloud and how different cloud service types and architectures can impact managing vulnerabilities. Finally, well dig into why asset management is so important and foundational for effective vulnerability management, and the different ways that gaining additional context can help us succeed.

    • Moving to the Cloud: Scenario-based lab about the impact of moving to the cloud on an organizations vulnerability management program
    • Critical Attributes: Scenario-based lab on how to identify critical contextual attributes that need to exist within our asset management database or be tracked in some other way to prioritize and manage vulnerabilities more effectively
    • Leveraging Asset Context
      • Hands-on lab leveraging a spreadsheet that contains both vulnerability and asset data sets to answer questions about the vulnerability of data and the quality of the asset data
      • Demonstration of how asset details and context and be used to help analyze vulnerability data performed in Domo, a SaaS Business Intelligence platform, Azure Data Explorer, and Axonius
    • Cyber42 Game
      • Game introduction
      • Initiative selection for Round 1
      • Three Round 1 events
    • Course Overview
    • Cloud and Cloud Vulnerability Management
    • Asset Management
      • Overview
      • Importance of context
      • Attributes and inline context
      • Cloud-native asset management
  • Overview

    Identifying vulnerabilities continues to be a major focus for our security programs, as it can provide insight into the current risks to our organization. It also provides the data for our analysis and for the measures and metrics we use to guide the program and track our maturity. This section looks at common identification pitfalls and discuss identification architecture and design across both infrastructure and applications. Well also look at where we might require permission to perform identification and how we safely grant permission to third parties to test our systems and applications and responsibly disclose any findings.

    • Scanning: Scenario-based lab to better understand and identify the types of scanning that are most effective for different asset types
    • Scan Validation: Scenario-based lab to better understand and identify the reasons why certain vulnerabilities are showing up in infrastructure scans even though they seem invalid or out of place
    • Pipeline Integration Demo
      • Demo of how to leverage GitHub Actions to integrate SAST and SCA into an automated pipeline
    • Cyber42 Game
      • One Round 1 event
      • Initiative selection for Round 2
      • Two Round 2 events


    • Challenges
    • Tools, architecture, and design
    • Cloud identification
    • Permission
    • Scanner configuration
    • Validating scan results
    • Application vulnerabilities
    • Proactive Identification
    • Bug bounty programs
  • Overview

    Gone are the days when we can just scan for vulnerabilities and send the raw output to our teams for remediation. We need to help reduce the burden by analyzing the output to reduce inaccuracies and identify root-cause issues that may be preventing remediation. Once we have identified the issues that cannot be resolved, we should prioritize the rest to ensure that we are having the greatest impact and provide targeted reports or dashboards to system and platform owners. This section will look at some common inaccuracies in the output of our identification processes, discuss prioritization, and then look at what metrics are commonly used to measure our program and the related operational capabilities. We will also discuss how to generate meaningful reports, communication strategies, and the different types of meetings that should be held to increase collaboration and participation.

    • Contextual Prioritization: Critical thinking lab around how we leverage different contextual attributes to help us prioritize our vulnerability data sets
    • Solution Groups and Types: Demo of to apply solution groups or remediation actions to vulnerability data sets and leverage the groupings for analysis and reporting performed in ServiceNow.
    • Cyber42 Game
      • Two Round 2 events
      • Initiative selection for Round 3
      • One Round 3 event
    • Analyze
      • Simple Threat Contextual Information
      • Asset-based Contextual Information
      • Advanced Threat Contextual Information
      • Solution Groups
      • Exclusion Groups & Risk
    • Communicate
      • Metrics
      • Reporting
      • Communication Strategy
      • Vulnerability Management Meetings
  • Overview

    Treating vulnerabilities and reducing risk is the ultimate goal of all we do in vulnerability management. It is important for all participants to understand the typical processes and technologies that exist and how to leverage them to increase positive change within the organization. Most organizations will have some form of change, patch, and configuration management programs. This course section will look at how we interface with these processes to streamline change and increase consistency. Well also examine some unique challenges we face in the cloud, how to better deal with application vulnerabilities, and some alternatives we can look to when traditional treatment methods are not available.

    • Changing Culture: Discussion and thought-based lab about what organizational cultures are most or least conducive to vulnerability management and how to go about changing or influencing culture
    • Gold Image Pipeline: Demo of Gold Image Pipeline to update and securely configure an AWS EC2 Instance using Packer, Ansible, and InSpec
    • Remediation Effectiveness: Scenario-based lab to better understand and identify how to gauge the effectiveness of the treatment options selected for various vulnerabilities after implementation and over time
    • Cyber42 Game
      • Three Round 3 events
      • Initiative selection for Round 4


    • Change management
    • Patch management
    • Configuration management
    • Cloud management
    • Application management
    • Alternative treatment
    • Other treatment considerations
  • Overview

    Vulnerability management is not the easiest job in an organization, and many challenges can hold us back. From split responsibility and accountability to reliance on shared personnel, much of the work done in this space goes unrecognized. This section will summarize much of what we have learned and discussed throughout the week and look at how we can use this information to improve the program. Well discuss how we can make VM more fun and successful within the organization, identify and collaborate more effectively with various stakeholders, and build out and mature a robust vulnerability management program.

    • Vulnerability Management Buy-In: Scenario-based lab to better identify important stakeholders and get or improve buy-in for the program
    • Cyber42 Game
      • Five Round 4 events
      • Final scoring and wrap-up
    • Buy-In
    • Making VM fun
    • Common Problems
    • Stakeholder Identification
    • Collaboration
    • Creating a Vulnerability Management Program
    • Selecting the Right Tools
    • Advancing the Program


A basic understanding of vulnerability, patch, and configuration management concepts is recommended for this course.

Laptop Requirements

Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions.

A properly configured system is required to fully participate in this course. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will not be able to fully participate in the exercises in your course. Therefore, please arrive with a system meeting all of the specified requirements.

Back up your system before class. Better yet, use a system without any sensitive/critical data. SANS is not responsible for your system or data.

  • Wireless networking (802.11 standard) is required. There is no wired Internet access in the classroom.

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact laptop_prep@sans.org

Author Statement

""It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of vulnerability management information available to us. Vulnerabilities are present in just about every device and software we use, with new reports released daily. Managing this dynamic landscape is a challenge for organizations. Our goal is to provide students with a framework for managing the vast quantities of vulnerabilities, and building or improving their vulnerability management program. This will enable students to identify the key problems within their environment, evaluate potential solutions for those problems, and communicate within their teams and to the organization on the effectiveness of vulnerability management." - Jonathan Risto

"I appreciated Jonathan sharing his personal examples today as he covered the material. Great real world challenges and made the content more relatable. Thank you!" - Bridget Aman

"I have spent over a decade helping organizations improve their infrastructure and application vulnerability management capabilities and programs. It surprises me how many organizations are struggling with similar issues. I'm also concerned when I hear from organizations about how they are going to successfully implement vulnerability management in the cloud, even while they are still struggling to manage vulnerabilities in their more traditional operating environments. With this course, we want to provide students with a better understanding of what they can do to improve their current program and extend that program into the cloud. We want them to understand the common roadblocks they will face and provide solutions to these challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to vulnerability management, but there are definitely common themes in mature organizations. The course is also a great opportunity to learn from what peers are doing in their organizations to solve some of the same problems you may be facing." - David Hazar

"David has vast experiences with numerous different types of organizations in vulnerability management. During the class, this was vital in bringing in and discussing real-world challenges." - Vikas Bangia, Bessemer Trust


I learned a lot of new things I can incorporate into my current role.
Wayne Wuamby
This course should be required by every VM team member. The insights provided will be helpful immediately in any organization.
Brandi Loveday-Chesley
Totally would recommend this to all VM departments in every company.
Lance Bennett
Conagra Brands

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