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Autonomic networks and services are exposed to a large variety of security risks. The vulnerability management process plays a crucial role for ensuring their safe configurations and preventing security attacks. We focus in this survey on the assessment of vulnerabilities in autonomic environments. In particular, we analyze current methods and techniques contributing to the discovery, the description and the detection of these vulnerabilities. We also point out important challenges that should be faced in order to fully integrate this process into the autonomic management plane.