The Ultimate Guide to External Attack Surface Management

The Ultimate Guide to External Attack Surface Management

Whether young or established, businesses have to go through multiple digital evolutions. They have to handle their assets, their devices, and software that is scattered wide across the net, all while dealing with cloud service providers, webs of subsidiaries, and different third-party vendors.

A well-defined network perimeter is a fleeting dream to many companies and their IT teams. The shift to cloud and the growth of solutions like Saas has enabled a magnificent acceleration in business growth.

However, at the same time, IT developers have very limited visibility of the new landscape. This has made security a major concern for companies. However, with the rise of attack surface management, data security has been a much smaller challenge to IT teams.

What is Attack Surface Management?

An Attack Surface can be defined as the sum of all exposures to any potential security threats. It is the figure of all known, unknown, and potential vulnerabilities across different components like the hardware, software, or network used by a company.

If any of these components have vulnerabilities that go undetected,  an attacker could exploit these and launch an attack into multiple layers, components, or functions of the target device. An attack surface exposes all networks of attackable points or security risks.

For any tech-savvy business, the attack surface is immensely vast and is quite hard to manage and stay vigilant for threats constantly. However, today’s attackers, especially those attacking such organizations, are equipped to handle and adjust to all the latest network defenses.

This is why an unimaginably huge scale of a company’s attack surface is hard to place into a chalkboard to monitor.

What is Attack Surface Management?

An attack surface management includes the continuous detection, inventory, labeling, prioritization, and security control of external digital assets that contain, distribute, or process critical data.

Below, the listed are the components an attack surface includes:

  • Established assets: Established assets are those which have been added to the inventory and are maintained regularly. This includes websites, servers, and any dependencies.
  • Hidden assets: These are the shadow or orphaned IT infrastructure that is always an inch beyond a security teams’ reach but isn’t important enough to make changes or be maintained. These include forgotten web pages, old promotion or marketing pages, etc.
  • Rogue assets: Rogue assets are those which impersonate a domain and are usually sprung up by malicious infrastructure. These include ransomware, typosquatting domains, or even faulty/malicious websites and apps.
  • Vendors: Third-party and fourth-party vendors add a substantial amount of risk to the attack surface. A small vendor with faulty software or malicious software can lead to a consequential attack.

Why is attack surface management significant for companies?

Control and identifying of attack surfaces are important, as it helps in avoiding and reducing risks resulting from:

  • Legacy, IoT, and shadow IT resources
  • Human inaccuracies, such as malware and data leakage
  • Unknown open-source application (OSS)
  • Large-scale attacks on your business
  • Cyber-assaults on your company that are specifically targeted
  • Intellectual property infringement
  • M&A operations resulted in the inheritance of IT
  • Resources controlled by third-party vendors

A critical aspect of any robust risk intelligence or assessment is the timely detection of all digital assets. This is owing to the fact that even a single weak string in your network or assets is all it takes for a full-blown cyber attack to be launched.

Attack Surface management provides data on all assets, including those which can considerably decrease the likelihood of data breaches, attacks on networks, or data leaks.

Benefits of Using Attack Surface Management Against External Threats

Know what to safeguard

There are hackers and individuals across the world looking to hack into organizations, for various reasons. Vulnerabilities with little or no security on any web page, server or system connected to the internet can be instantly exploited and are hence frequently targeted.

Most enterprises tend to get lax about routine asset audits and can also tend to cut back on maintenance due to budget checks. No matter the reason, it is important to understand that it is near impossible to find the vulnerable asset in time, while an attack is being launched. Attack surface management tells you exactly where the breach is and gives you real-time information about all risks.

Gain real-time visibility

Due to the dynamic and intricate nature of a company’s attack surface and breach risk, real-time

visibility is a key element to any successful attack surface management program. Like mentioned, the key to avoiding or even recovering from a risk or attack is timely detection and prevention.

If static evaluation methods are heavily relied upon, significant breaches or risks could be missed out on. This is why, monitoring the attack surface constantly to discover, track and control all assets is vital.

Attack surface management software provides users with the real-time relay of data across the attack surface and constantly monitors the surface to detect any risks or vulnerabilities across all servers and components connected to the net.

Reducing the surface of the attack and avoiding security threats. Having a keen knowledge of your exposures across all assets is essential. Having an effective plan for the discovery and tracking of the attack surface, along with robust attack surface management software can positively influence your security and help prevent common cybersecurity threats.

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