Tracking the Vulnerability Weaponization Lifecycle

Posted: 2nd December 2022
By: Trevor Lyness
Tracking the Vulnerability Weaponization Lifecycle

When it comes to applying intelligence to vulnerability management, the typical conversation is focused on prioritizing high-risk vulnerabilities that have already been exploited in the wild. This can be powerful; intelligence can quickly filter your critical vulnerability patch list down from 10,000 to 100.

However, threat actors are exploiting vulnerabilities faster than ever. It took the Hafnium group just 5 minutes to begin scanning for a Microsoft Exchange zero-day vulnerability. Organizations can’t wait for exploitation to start patching vulnerabilities that are likely to be exploited in the future.

Using the Weaponization Lifecycle for Proactive Vulnerability Management


The vulnerability weaponization lifecycle can help security teams track vulnerabilities that could be weaponized in the future. The lifecycle breaks down the path of a vulnerability into four distinct stages.

  • Disclosure - A vendor or researcher announces a vulnerability; an initial assessment of impact may be available and incorporated into scanners.
  • Proof of Concept - Non-malicious Proof of Concepts (PoCs) exist for this vulnerability; includes both verified and unverified lab-tested samples.
  • Exploit Likely - Vulnerabilities with high-risk characteristics (e.g., remote execution) that are likely to be exploited soon.
  • Exploited - Vulnerabilities are targeted in malicious exploits or as part of a known attack.

Tracking vulnerabilities along the lifecycle path enables teams to flag and mitigate vulnerabilities even before the adversary has the opportunity to exploit them.

Putting the Vulnerability Weaponization Lifecycle to Action

Recorded Future has spent over a decade collecting massive volumes of information on over 400,000 vulnerabilities, including evidence of exploitation in the wild, existence of proof of concept code, links to malware, and more. This makes it easy to prioritize high-risk vulnerabilities

Our latest release, the vulnerability playbook alert, proactively identifies, tracks, and prioritizes vulnerabilities as they move along the weaponization lifecycle, allowing organizations to take action on vulnerabilities — before they’re ever exploited. tracking_the_vulnerability_weaponization_lifecycle_2_Vuln_playbook_alert.png

How does it work? First, the alert identifies newly disclosed vulnerabilities associated with an organization’s unique technology stack, automatically filtering out noise about irrelevant vulnerabilities for technologies you don’t use.

Second, the alert updates when a vulnerability moves from one stage of the lifecycle to the next, allowing analysts to track when a vulnerability moves into the “_exploit likely_” stage when it’s time to examine mitigation options.

Finally, all vulnerabilities impacting an organization’s technology stack can be consolidated into a single view to track your organization’s overall exposure to high risk vulnerabilities. tracking_the_vulnerability_weaponization_lifecycle_3_Vuln_home_screen.png

And that’s it. A powerful set of features that combines Recorded Future’s machine-scale sourcing, collection, and analysis capabilities to give security teams an edge to take action before the adversary does.

If you'd like to see vulnerability intelligence in action, request a demo.