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Are your external ASV scans effective?

Overcoming the Challenges of Maintaining ASV Scans and Remediation Efforts


Maintaining regular external vulnerability scans using your Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) scans and promptly remediating identified vulnerabilities are crucial components of any effective cybersecurity program, specifically your PCI DSS compliance program. However, these tasks are often challenging, especially for organizations with complex IT environments. This is also likely to be a challenge for organizations just starting to perform vulnerability scans.

Challenges in Maintaining ASV Scans and Remediation of Vulnerabilities Found.

  1. Defining Targets and Scope: Many organizations today have a challenge defining their potential attack surface as well as understanding the scope based on compliance requirements.
  2. Volume and Complexity of Data: One of the significant challenges in maintaining ASV scans is dealing with the sheer volume of data. Large, complex networks generate vast amounts of information that can be difficult to manage and analyze effectively.
  3. False Positives and Negatives: ASV scans can result in false positives (non-existent vulnerabilities flagged) and false negatives (actual vulnerabilities missed), confusing the remediation process and leading to misallocated resources.
  4. Timely Remediation: Even after successful detection, timely remediation is often a hurdle. The coordination between the teams responsible for the detection and those in charge of remediation can sometimes be slow and inefficient.
  5. Compliance and Regulatory Requirements: Maintaining ASV scans is tied to compliance with PCI DSS and ensuring that the ASV scans are performed and maintained in accordance with the PCI DSS standard can be challenging and time-consuming.

Best Practices for ASV Scans and Remediation

  1. Scope: Ensure your asset register is up to date and that you have up-to-date data flow and network diagrams in order to be able to identify attack surfaces and scope of compliance.
  2. Regular Scanning and Patching: Conduct ASV scans regularly and at a minimum, on a monthly basis and implement a consistent patch management process to remediate vulnerabilities as they are identified.
  3. Prioritization of Vulnerabilities: Prioritize vulnerabilities based on the potential impact and likelihood of exploitation. Focus on critical and high-risk vulnerabilities to ensure they are addressed first and then create a plan for medium and low findings.
  4. Collaboration and Clear Communication: Encourage strong collaboration between different teams and foster clear communication to expedite the remediation process.
  5. Continuous Training and Awareness: Regularly update your team's skills and awareness about the latest vulnerabilities and threat landscape. Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, and staying up to date is vital.
  6. Compliance Management: Establish procedures that ensure adherence to regulatory standards and requirements. This will not only maintain security but also help avoid potential fines and sanctions, and specifically for PCI DSS; you need to do the following:
  7. Attest to your scope on a quarterly basis. Attestation is necessary for the scan to be considered approved.
  8. Define your scan quarters to fit your business and potential freeze periods. Calendar quarters might not prove challenging as freeze periods can occur at the end of a quarter (Holidays) when you need to perform remediation.
  9. Remediate critical and high findings immediately.
  10. Ensure that you have at least one approved scan per quarter. These can consist of one initial scan and multiple re-scans.
  11. Save and maintain scans in order to provide evidence of compliance.
  12. PCI DSS has defined 'quarterly' as a maximum of 90 days apart, and the related activities like scanning and the attestation need to be performed as per that time period at a minimum. Monthly is recommended.

Next Steps

Taking the following steps can further enhance your ASV scan and remediation processes:

  • Evaluate your current ASV scanning and remediation strategy to identify areas of improvement.
  • Dedicate resources to manage your vulnerability management program or consider managed solutions.
  • Train your staff regularly, focusing on both technical skills and awareness of cybersecurity best practices.
  • Consider outsourcing needed capabilities in order to support mature vulnerability scanning capabilities and compliance.
  • Work with your ASV to ensure that you leverage their capabilities effectively and receive the support you need.


While maintaining ASV scans and performing remediation are challenging, they are crucial for your organization's security posture and compliance status. Understanding these challenges and implementing the best practices outlined above can significantly enhance your vulnerability management strategy. Remember, a proactive approach is key to staying ahead in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.

Find out more about how to maintain your ASV scans to ensure your organization's security and compliance, go to or contact the VikingCloud team.



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Andrea Sugden
Chief Sales and Customer Relationship Officer

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