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1 Feb 2024

11 biggest challenges for DIY vulnerability management

Managing vulnerabilities in-house presents unique challenges for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Unlike larger corporations with extensive resources, SMEs often face constraints that make vulnerability management complex. 

This blog will explore the 11 biggest challenges of DIY vulnerability management so you can make an informed decision before leaping into the unknown. It all starts with understanding where the gaps are in your IT systems (and there will be gaps), so number 1 is risk assessment.

1. Inadequate risk assessment

Conducting thorough risk assessments to prioritise vulnerabilities is crucial. However, some firms might lack the tools and knowledge to perform effective risk assessments, leading to incorrect prioritisation and unaddressed critical vulnerabilities.

You must understand the potential impact, the likelihood of exploitation, and the resources required for mitigation.

Ultimately, the goal remains to protect your digital assets, and outsourcing VMaaS may be the best solution

2. Limited budget

One of the most significant hurdles for SMEs is the limited budget for cybersecurity. Investing in advanced security tools and technologies often takes a backseat due to financial constraints, leading to a reliance on less effective, free, or low-cost solutions.

The tools required for effective vulnerability management (like automated scanners and threat intelligence platforms) can be costly. For many organisations, the investment in these tools, along with their maintenance and upgrades, hiring skilled personnel, or investing in training, is a significant financial burden.

3. Resource constraints

SMEs typically have smaller IT teams, sometimes with just a few individuals handling multiple roles. This limitation can lead to inadequate attention to vulnerability management as these teams are stretched thin across various IT tasks.

Effective vulnerability management requires continuous monitoring, assessment, and response. This demands significant time and resources, including dedicated staff for these tasks.

4. Patch management difficulties

Effective patch management is a core aspect of vulnerability management. Smaller firms may struggle with timely patch deployment due to limited resources, leading to prolonged exposure to known vulnerabilities.

Implementing patches and updates also often requires system downtime, which needs to be managed carefully to minimise disruption to business operations.

5. Lack of automated tools

Automation plays a vital role in efficient vulnerability management. Scanners, such as Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management, can automate many tasks, but they still require expertise in their installation and the review of any security gaps.

However, in-house teams may not have access to or be able to afford automated tools, leading to manual processes that are time-consuming and prone to error. Vulnerability Management as a Service (VMaaS) provides automation and skilled staff without the hassle.

6. Managing false positives and negatives

Managing and filtering out false positives without missing critical vulnerabilities (false negatives) is a delicate balance. Too many false positives can lead to alert fatigue, while false negatives can leave systems exposed.

In-house teams can spend an inordinate amount of time investigating and addressing false positives, detracting from dealing with actual vulnerabilities.

7. Lack of specialised expertise

Vulnerability management requires specialised knowledge of cybersecurity. Many organisations lack staff with specific expertise in this area, making it challenging to effectively identify, assess, and mitigate vulnerabilities.

Keeping up with the latest security trends, understanding complex vulnerabilities, and mitigating them require high expertise and ongoing training. Finding and retaining skilled cybersecurity professionals can be challenging and costly.

8. Rapidly evolving threat landscape

The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, with new vulnerabilities emerging regularly. Staying abreast of these developments demands continuous vigilance and adaptation, which can be overwhelming for in-house teams.

In-house teams must continually improve and adapt their approaches, which requires ongoing training, research, and development.

9. Inadequate incident response planning

Many SMEs lack a formal incident response plan. This deficiency can result in chaotic and inefficient responses to security incidents, exacerbating the impact of vulnerabilities.

In the event of a security breach, a rapid and coordinated response is essential. In-house vulnerability management teams (not just the IT Dept, but Operations, Customer Relations, Finance, etc) must be prepared to play their part in incident response, which can be complex.

10. Complexity of IT infrastructure

As organisations grow, their IT infrastructure often becomes more complex. Managing and securing diverse technologies, devices, and applications can be daunting for small IT teams, leading to potential security gaps. 

Ensuring all aspects of the organisation's IT environment are covered, including cloud services, mobile devices, and remote work scenarios, is challenging.

11. Compliance and Regulatory Challenges

SMEs are subject to the same regulatory requirements as larger organisations but with fewer resources to ensure compliance. Keeping up with various regulations while managing vulnerabilities can be overwhelming.

Adhering to industry standards and regulatory requirements and generating comprehensive reports for different stakeholders (like management or auditors) requires a structured approach and additional resources.


Vulnerability management is a complex but essential task. The challenges range from budgetary constraints and lack of expertise to compliance and patch management difficulties. 

Managing vulnerability in-house is a daunting task fraught with complexities. Automation could be the answer, and Vulnerability Management as a Service (VMaaS) is becoming increasingly popular. Organisations must weigh the challenges against their capabilities and resources. 

For some, the solution may be seeking assistance from external cyber security providers. Ultimately, the goal remains to protect your digital assets, and outsourcing VMaaS may be the best solution

Graham Smith

By Graham Smith