Vulnerability Remediation

Finding vulnerabilities is one thing - remediating vulnerabilities can be quite another. In fact, in some respects, vulnerability remediation is much more complicated and challenging than simply discovering them.

Keep reading to learn why vulnerability remediation can be difficult – as well as why it’s important and how best to fix vulnerabilities after you’ve discovered them. This article breaks down everything you need to know about the role of vulnerability remediation in the vulnerability management process.

In this article:

What is vulnerability remediation?

Vulnerability remediation is the process of fixing security vulnerabilities. In this context, fixing means correcting the underlying problem that created the security vulnerability.

As an example of vulnerability remediation, imagine you’ve discovered a code injection vulnerability in an application. The vulnerability exists because the application doesn’t properly validate input, allowing attackers to inject malicious queries that manipulate application behavior. To remediate this vulnerability, you’d update the code with logic to validate input so that the application could detect and block any input that is malicious.

The challenges of vulnerability remediation

While detecting vulnerabilities using automated scanners is typically relatively easy, remediating vulnerabilities can be more challenging for the following reasons.

Uncertainty over which vulnerabilities to prioritize

A single vulnerability scan might reveal dozens or even hundreds of vulnerabilities. With so many risks inside an application, teams may struggle to know which ones to remediate first.

Lack of context on application implications

Different vulnerabilities can impact applications in different ways. Some may create opportunities for threat actors to compromise an entire host system, for example, while others may simply disrupt non-critical application features.

However, a vulnerability’s implications for an application are typically not obvious when you first discover the vulnerability. You’d need to dig deeper to determine exactly how the vulnerability can impact the application. 

Inaccurate vulnerability reports

Complicating matters further is the fact that some vulnerability reports include false positives, meaning vulnerabilities that a scanner identifies but that don’t actually exist. This may happen in cases where vulnerability scanners use outdated or incomplete data, or where they detect code patterns that are similar to those associated with vulnerabilities, but which don’t actually create a security flaw within the context of a specific application.

Incomplete vulnerability scanning

Vulnerability scans that don’t cover an entire environment can also hamper vulnerability remediation. Without comprehensive scanning data, teams lack the insight necessary to know where all of their risks lie. As a result, they might waste time chasing vulnerabilities that are not critical, while failing to address more serious risks because they never found them.

This is a widespread challenge given the lack of holistic visibility into modern environments. As Dazz notes in its “State of Security Remediation 2024” report, a mere 23 percent of organizations report having full visibility into their cloud environments.

Lack of remediation guidance

Often, vulnerability alerts include limited, if any, guidance about how to fix the vulnerability. They only tell you that a risk exists, not how to correct it. This means that security analysts and developers must determine which code triggers the vulnerability and how best to correct it.

The vulnerability remediation process

Despite these challenges, having an effective vulnerability remediation process in place is critical because, again, knowing that vulnerabilities exist is of little value if you can’t fix them.

The exact process for resolving vulnerabilities varies depending on factors like the type of vulnerability you’re dealing with and which type of application it affects. In general, however, vulnerability remediation boils down to the following steps.


First, you detect vulnerabilities. As we mentioned, you can do this using a vulnerability scanning tool, which automatically analyzes applications to check for vulnerabilities. Most scanners also generate reports that include details about vulnerabilities they found.


After identifying vulnerabilities, you must decide which ones to prioritize. This is important because it’s not typically possible to remediate all vulnerabilities at once.

You can get a basic sense of how serious each vulnerability is by checking the risk score assigned to it in public vulnerability databases. Some databases include generic risk scores for each vulnerability based on information such as how easy it is to exploit the vulnerability and how much harm it could potentially cause.

However, as Ray Payano notes, generic vulnerability risk scores are just a start. You must also factor in “organization-specific environmental metrics such as asset criticality and effectiveness of controls,” since these determine how easy it is to exploit a vulnerability in your particular environment. Just because a vulnerability has a high (or low) generic risk score doesn’t mean it necessarily poses a high (or low) risk for your organization.


Once you’ve decided which vulnerabilities to remediate, the next step is to fix them. Some vulnerability scanners and reports include remediation guidance that can help developers understand what causes a vulnerability and how to fix it. However, fixing a vulnerability is usually a mostly manual process that requires writing new code to correct an underlying security flaw.

In some cases – those where vulnerabilities stem from third-party code, and the code has been updated to fix the vulnerability – you can simply upgrade to the new version, rather than having to remediate the vulnerability yourself.


The final step in vulnerability remediation is monitoring your software environment to ensure that your fix actually resolved the vulnerability – and that new ones have not appeared. In some cases, threat actors may find ways to exploit vulnerabilities even after they have been fixed by experimenting with variations on the original attack method.

For instance, if you fixed a code injection vulnerability by updating your application to check for certain types of malicious input, attackers could potentially discover other types of input that the application doesn’t catch. Monitoring the runtime environment would help alert you to attacks like this.

AI-guided vulnerability remediation

Advances in AI have opened new opportunities to streamline vulnerability remediation. AI-powered tools can automatically generate guidance about how to fix a vulnerability. This is valuable not just because it reduces the amount of effort required on the part of engineers. Even more important is that it speeds remediation – and when you’re facing a zero-day vulnerability (meaning one that attackers are actively trying to exploit), fixing the issue as soon as possible is critical.

Capabilities like AI-guided vulnerability remediation are especially important given that the number of known vulnerabilities has steadily increased in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. Faced with this challenge, organizations operating with limited staff resources need all of the help they can get to remediate vulnerabilities. Indeed, as Jay Jacobs, Sasha Romanosky, Idris Adjerid, and Wade Baker write in the Journal of Cybersecurity, “The management of [security] uncertainty is exacerbated by the limited resources that most organizations dedicate to security…machine learning methods can identify new attacks by recognizing changes in network or user behaviour.”

A comprehensive approach to vulnerability remediation

The faster and more efficiently you can remediate vulnerabilities, the lower the overall risk of cyberattack you face. With help from Aqua, which includes detailed vulnerability reports and AI-powered remediation guidance, it’s easy to detect, prioritize, fix, and monitor vulnerabilities across any environment.

The Cloud Native Experts
"The Cloud Native Experts" at Aqua Security specialize in cloud technology and cybersecurity. They focus on advancing cloud-native applications, offering insights into containers, Kubernetes, and cloud infrastructure. Their work revolves around enhancing security in cloud environments and developing solutions to new challenges.