External Attack Surface Management: Mitigating Cyber Risks in an Evolving Landscape

In today’s digital landscape, organizations face an ever-evolving range of cyber threats that can compromise their security and disrupt operations. As a result, effective management of the external attack surface has become crucial to maintain a robust cybersecurity posture. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are increasingly prioritizing attack surface visibility as a key strategy to mitigate risks and protect their organizations.
However, an effective external attack surface management (EASM) begins with a comprehensive assessment of one’s external facing assets. An ideal EASM strategy involves identifying, assessing, and reducing the outward-faced vulnerabilities that threat actors can exploit to compromise an organization’s security.
EASM encompasses monitoring various components such as internet-facing assets, cloud infrastructure, third-party integrations, and publicly accessible systems.

Key Drivers 

  • Increasing Complexity: The evolving threat landscape and proliferation of digital assets make it challenging for organizations to comprehend their attack surface accurately.
  • Third-Party Risks: Assessing the security posture of third-party vendors and partners is critical due to the interconnectedness of modern business ecosystems.
  • Cloud Infrastructure: Rapid adoption of cloud services expands the attack surface, necessitating proactive monitoring and security measures.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Traditional security approaches are inadequate against advanced threats, emphasizing the need for continuous monitoring to detect and respond to emerging risks promptly.

Significance 

Verizon’s data breach report for 2023 places much emphasis on EASM as it finds business email compromises (BECs) and vulnerability exploitations as two out of the three primary attack types used last year.
Effective external attack surface management enhances cybersecurity resilience against such attacks by enabling organizations to:
           1. Identify Vulnerabilities: Regular assessments help identify potential vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and weaknesses for targeted remediation efforts.
           2. Prioritize Remediation: Understanding the criticality of each vulnerability allows organizations to allocate resources effectively and mitigate the most significant risks.
           3. Enhance Incident Response: Improved attack surface visibility enables organizations to detect and respond to security incidents promptly, minimizing their impact.
           4. Strengthen Third-Party Risk Management: Assessing third-party vendors’ security posture ensures extended attack surface protection.

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About the Author(s)

Author

  • Linna Zheng

    Linna Zheng serves as a moderator at the GlobalCISO Leadership Foundation, where her passion for creativity and cybersecurity shines through. Since the foundation's inception, Linna has been actively involved in various initiatives, including organizing conferences, coordinating events, and overseeing operational tasks. Her dedication and commitment have been instrumental in the development of the GCISO certification program, as she collaborates closely with security leaders worldwide.

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