The world is changing fast, and so is cyber exposure management. Companies are investing more money in cybersecurity than ever before, but they are also reporting more threats. We’ve seen a range of notable hacks and cybercrimes over the last few years, including government-sanctioned attacks on valuable IT infrastructure, such as the attacks on SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline. Despite the rapid rise in potential risk, many companies struggle to implement a robust cybersecurity risk management system. Learn how to manage cyber exposure in today’s increasingly unpredictable world.
Cybersecurity leaders need to adopt a new approach. One that centralizes all risks and provides a decision framework to illuminate the most significant risks and direct the effort of the team to address the most critical risks first. The way organizations manage this exposure is already undergoing a radical and rapid transformation. This paradigm shift is exacerbated by continuously evolving changes to infrastructure, supporting a remote workforce, budget restructuring, and other business, compliance, and security drivers. Not to mention a rapidly expanding attack surface that goes well beyond the scope risk managers are used to managing. Adopting automation and modern technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning makes this transition more manageable than ever before. Knowing the best path forward will aid organizations in managing their risk exposure to their digital assets.
The scariest thing about cybersecurity is that an alarmingly large number of organizations are still not fully aware of which assets are connected to their environment. How could a security team possibly reduce their exposure to attacks if they don’t know what needs to be protected in the first place?
First, let's define what an asset and attack surface is. An asset is any hardware or software within your organization’s IT environment. It includes but is not limited to servers, networks, desktops, smartphones, tablets, laptops, virtual machines, cloud-hosted technologies & services, web applications, and IoT devices.
An attack surface is the total number of points/vectors through which an attacker could try to enter your IT environment.
A point-in-time vulnerability assessment is an excellent start to understanding risk and how it impacts assets in your environment. However, these static approaches, along with traditional vulnerability management programs, miss giant chunks of asset inventory leaving weak points in your assessment. In addition, a point-in-time assessment only captures vulnerabilities when periodic scans are run, which means the picture at any one time is only a single snapshot of the past. To further exacerbate this, point-in-time assessments do not cover many non-CVE risk items such as password reuse, misconfigurations, user behavior, and many more use cases (see Mitre ATT&CK for a comprehensive list). This makes managing your attack surface increasingly difficult and ultimately exposing you to threats that could have a significant financial and operational impact on your organization.
Vulnerability tools natively don’t understand the compensating effect of deployed security controls as part of their approach. Mapping vulnerability metrics to business context cannot be achieved using the traditional methods that have been utilized over the past two decades.
In addition to the technical constraints, the frequency of scans is inadequate to keep up with the rapidly increasing sheer volume and criticality of today’s vulnerabilities.