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How Attack Surface Management Helps You Manage and Minimize Security Risks
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How Attack Surface Management Helps You Manage and Minimize Security Risks

If you don’t manage your attack surface properly, your systems, apps, and networks can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

You’ll need to level up your cyber defenses and take a more preventive and proactive approach to protect against more sophisticated (and potentially more damaging) cyberattacks.

One solution is to adopt one of the effective cybersecurity best practices: Attack Surface Management (ASM).

Continue reading to learn more about attack surface management and how it can help you mitigate risks to your cybersecurity.

What is an Attack Surface?

An attack surface is the potential entry point (or points) for unauthorized entry and attacks on any system.

The attack surface includes endpoints, vulnerabilities, and other areas within a system susceptible to hacking and exploitation by malicious actors.

Hackers use attack vectors to infiltrate or breach your networks and systems.

Attack vectors can come in various forms, including ransomware, malware, compromised credentials, phishing, and Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks.

Some attack vectors can target security and overall infrastructure vulnerabilities. Others are designed to trick people with access to your network and systems into divulging or sharing sensitive data and credentials.

Reducing and eliminating your attack surfaces helps you address vulnerabilities and mitigate risks.

As your attack area gets smaller, the easier you can manage and protect your assets and systems.

Your attack surface can include:

  • System access points
  • Code
  • Ports
  • Websites
  • Servers
  • Applications
  • Laptops and desktops
  • Mobile devices
  • Hardware
  • Hard drives
  • USB tools
  • Discarded hardware that contains login and access codes

What is Attack Surface Management?

Attack surface management is the process of identifying, reducing, and monitoring all potential attack vectors to mitigate security risks and attacks.

ASM aims to minimize the attack surface area to lower potential gaps and components that attackers can use as entry points.

The smaller your attack surface is, the less the chances of security breaches and attacks succeeding.

Managing your organization’s attack surface helps you be proactive about remediating and strengthening your potential attack vectors.

With attack surface management, you can minimize vulnerabilities by systematically identifying risks and implementing strategies for improved cybersecurity.

4 Ways attack surface management improves your security

As your IT ecosystem grows, so does your attack surface.

Managing your attack surface is critical to fortifying your defenses against new and emerging cyber threats.

Below are some ways attack surface management can help you handle potential security risks.

1. Understand and control your attack surface

Effective ASM uncovers a comprehensive and prioritized view of your threat vectors.

You’ll see your risk posture and the most critical threats to your IT environment and security infrastructure. You’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions to secure your assets and organization.

With reliable ASM solutions, you’ll also have better control over your attack surface components.

Attack surface management software can monitor your perimeter continuously to spot potential attack vectors and gaps, helping you enhance your security controls.

2. Uncover shadow IT assets

ASM solutions with prioritization workflows and policy-driven rules can help detect shadow IT assets that increase security risks within your environment.

Many hackers often attack your internet-exposed software instead of your ports and IP addresses, making it crucial to identify these attack surfaces early.

3. Support your security team

There’s only so much your security team can do to protect your IT environment from attacks, especially with an expanding attack surface and threat landscape.

Robust ASM solutions can take some of the load off your security staff by automating cyber-intelligence gathering, risk rating, and analysis. It can give your security teams the guidance and support to minimize your attack surface.

4. Conduct threat assessments

Attack surface management helps you perform threat assessments to spot your most vulnerable assets. It also aids you in performing risk-based prioritization in real time to determine and remediate your most risky attack surface.

Some ASM solutions leverage the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a globally accessible knowledge base containing adversary techniques and tactics based on real-world observations.

You can use the framework to evaluate your company’s attack surface and determine which assets have the highest risk levels.

Components of an effective attack surface management strategy

An effective attack surface management strategy involves the following:

  • Discovery. Attack surface management solutions can discover all internet-facing digital assets containing or processing sensitive data.
  • Inventory. ASM can document and characterize your uncovered assets for automation.

Automation allows your security team to scale up and manage thousands or even millions of assets, increasing your chances of a successful attack surface management program.

  • Risk scoring. ASM helps assess risks to provide visibility into when and how your assets are at risk of getting breached.
  • Mitigation. Attack surface management can assign a priority value to each risk to help address them promptly and effectively.
  • Continuous monitoring. ASM can regularly monitor assets with advanced threat protection software to ensure that they remain secure and prevent new attacks.
  • Monitoring malicious assets and incidents. Attack surface management helps you monitor malicious traffic and incidents constantly, alerting your security teams to incidents that may lead to breaches.
  • Dealing with incidents. ASM can provide context after a security incident to assess the impact on assets or users and recommendations for remediation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few common questions about attack surface management.

1. How can I reduce my attack surface?

Assume zero trust, which means that no external actor or asset is trusted until authenticated and authorized.

For instance, allow only authenticated users to access your website with a password and disable unused ports and services on your servers.

2. What is the difference between risk and threat?

Risk is the likelihood that an event will occur, while a threat is the capability of an attacker to carry out such an event.

3. What should I do about an attack on my server?

Notify your IT staff immediately if you notice an attack on one of your servers.

Your IT team will determine how to mitigate any risks the attack poses to your other assets and develop a response plan.

Mitigate Your Attack Surface Risk Now

Attack surface management allows you to closely monitor and assess your assets for potential attacker entry points. You’ll be better equipped to respond more effectively to security incidents and attacks.

Leverage the best-fitting attack surface management solutions and develop a solid strategy to reduce risks while increasing your protection.

Review How Attack Surface Management Helps You Manage and Minimize Security Risks.

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