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Why Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management Matters for IT and Security Teams

Cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) tools help organizations discover & recognize their expanding technology estate and identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited for a cyberattack. This is done through continuous device discovery & recognition and scanning from the outside to ensure that critical assets like cloud-based or remote systems are included.

Identifying Unknown Assets

The digital attack surface grows and changes daily as new assets are deployed, users, software, workloads, services, and other IT infrastructure are added or altered. A continuous security operations program is required to keep up. CAASM involves four core processes – asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, intelligent prioritization, and remediation. Unlike EASM solutions, which focus on identifying unknown threats and toxic networks, CAASM solutions can merge all external and internal data into a single knowledge graph to provide complete visibility for effective cyber asset attack surface management. This enables you to see and understand your entire cyber attack surface through the lens of your security operation processes.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

The attack surface is growing exponentially with the rapid expansion of technology assets to drive innovation, support digital transformation, and meet business objectives. The resulting unknowns can be difficult to detect and protect, putting IT and security teams at greater risk of breach and attack. The best cyber asset attack surface management tools use agentless, deep scanning, and credential-free device recognition to continuously discover, inventory, classify and monitor IT infrastructure – from on-premises or the cloud to internal and external environments such as subsidiaries or critical suppliers. This enables IT and security teams to quickly identify the blast radius of risks, accelerate investigation and response with visual exploration and actionable context, and monitor compliance through automated policy enforcement. Unlike traditional vulnerability scanning, which only checks known assets, CAASM scans from the outside to uncover unknown assets – including shadow IT, unsanctioned software, and IoT devices.

Identifying Exposures

A cyber attack surface management solution scans a company’s IT environment – both internal and external – to identify unknown, rogue, or external assets that could be used as an entry point into the network. This includes SaaS applications, mobile & IoT devices, code repositories, websites, operating systems, data centers, and hardware equipment. The growth of cloud adoption, digital transformation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the average organization’s attack surface much larger and more distributed. Keeping track of all the IT assets and their dependencies can be overwhelming. A CISO can only effectively mitigate risk to the business if they understand the current and potential impact of increasing exposures. That’s why it’s important to quickly and accurately discover, evaluate, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities. This is the goal of continuous attack surface management. Ideally, this is done by enabling teams to query consolidated structural data across all internal and external assets.

Identifying Risk

Attack surface management programs should identify all assets, classify and prioritize them by vulnerability, and automatically remediate or remove those that pose the most significant risk. This includes rogue assets created by threat actors (like typosquatting domains, phishing sites, or IoT devices) and vulnerabilities found in third-party tools and misconfigurations from legacy systems.

Unfortunately, IT teams often struggle to keep up with the pace of change. In addition, many organizations use a variety of cloud-based software development platforms, remote/hybrid work models, and other initiatives that introduce new points of entry and expand the attack surface. This complexity also makes it challenging to manage the full breadth of an organization’s cyber attack surface and quickly detect and respond to threats and breaches. A CAASM solution combining multiple sources’ asset data into a powerful knowledge graph gives IT and cybersecurity teams the visibility they need to improve their governance, control, and risk response.

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