Do legacy applications or operating systems cause gaps in your vulnerability management strategy? Microsegmentation can help


Devasmita Das

Read Time

3 Minutes

Last Updated

Apr 1, 2024

table of contents

The ever-evolving cyber threat landscape necessitates continuous adaptation of security strategies. However, the presence of legacy devices within modern networks creates a complex challenge for vulnerability management. These outdated systems, which may still be executing critical business processes, are often lacking vendor support and security updates. This makes them prime targets for exploitation. CISOs face a constant struggle: balancing the need for innovative applications with the security risks associated with outdated platforms. This blog delves into two conundrums: 

1. Legacy Applications on Modern Operating Systems (OS): Patches for the underlying OS are available, but the application itself may lack vendor support, leaving vulnerabilities unaddressed. 

2. Modern Applications on Legacy OS: Patching the application might be impossible or infrequent, leaving the entire system susceptible to exploits. 

Both scenarios raise concerns about OS vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities within the application itself. For example, a legacy HRM (Human Resource Management) application running on a modern OS – even with updated OS, the application’s inherent vulnerabilities remain. A study by Avanade revealed that, on average, 31% of technology within organisations is made up of legacy systems. 

While standard Vulnerability Management techniques and solutions like patch management, vulnerability scanners, configuration management, and integration with SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) are essential tools for securing modern systems, they often face limitations when dealing with legacy devices, particularly those running on end-of-life (EOL) operating systems or applications. This is mainly due to the following reasons: 

  1. Patching Peril: No updates from vendors leave these systems exposed to known and unknown threats. Patch management tools become useless without them. 
  1. Patching Paradox: Patching legacy systems can be risky, potentially causing instability or malfunctions. This creates a difficult choice between patching and leaving them vulnerable. 
  1. Scanner Shortcomings: Vulnerability scanners rely on databases that may not be updated for EOL software, leading to false reports and missed vulnerabilities. 
  1. Code Conundrum: Complex and outdated codebases in legacy systems can make vulnerability scanning inaccurate, potentially missing critical threats or causing false alarms. 
  1. Automation Apathy: Legacy systems often lack automated patching and scanning capabilities, requiring manual intervention and increasing the risk of human error. 

An HRM server running on EOL OS, with all the standard Vulnerability Management techniques in place is still vulnerable and can be breached by any adversary 

So, how can these risks be mitigated? 

  • Microsegmentation: This powerful technique isolates critical systems from the main network, effectively shrinking the attack surface and limiting the potential damage if a breach occurs. Additionally, restricting access to these systems only to authorized users and devices further tightens security. This helps organizations be Breach Ready and prevents the breaches that can be caused due to usage of a legacy system (legacy OS or a legacy application) from turning into a crisis. 

Microsegmentation offers a more granular and dynamic approach to network security: 

  • Creating Micro-perimeters: By isolating legacy devices within specific micro-segments, you limit their lateral movement and communication with other critical assets in the network. This reduces the attack surface and prevents compromised legacy devices from becoming stepping stones for attackers targeting more valuable resources. 
  • Policy-based Enforcement: Granular microsegmentation policies dictate allowed and denied traffic flows between segments. This allows for strict control over the type of traffic reaching legacy devices, further limiting their exposure to potential threats. 
  • Visibility and Monitoring: Advanced microsegmentation solutions provide real-time visibility into network activity within and between segments. This allows security teams to monitor for suspicious behavior and quickly identify any attempts to breach the isolation of legacy devices. 

Benefits of using Microsegmentation for Legacy Devices: 

  • Reduced Attack Surface: Isolates vulnerable systems, limiting their potential impact in case of a breach. 
  • Mitigates Risk of Lateral Movement: Prevents compromised legacy devices from granting attackers access to other critical assets. 
  • Simplified Security Management: Enables targeted security policies for legacy devices, reducing the overall complexity of managing security controls. 
  • Improves Efficiency: Provides a more effective defense mechanism compared to traditional segmentation approaches. 

Vulnerability Management for Legacy Devices with ColorTokens:  

Microsegmentation with ColorTokens Gatekeeper secures Legacy system and prevents the network from being breached 

ColorTokens’ Gatekeeper solution addresses the concerns of legacy devices by offering robust, agentless security specifically designed for these environments. By creating a secure, virtualized micro-perimeter around the legacy device, the Gatekeeper effectively isolates it from the rest of the network, significantly reducing the attack surface and preventing the lateral movement of potential threats. Additionally, the Gatekeeper’s ability to monitor and control network traffic to and from the legacy device enables real-time anomaly detection and automated mitigation measures, further enhancing security posture. This agentless approach eliminates the need for complex installations or modifications to the legacy system itself, making the Gatekeeper a user-friendly and efficient solution for securing these critical assets. 

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