A robust cyber attack surface management strategy is necessary for today’s organizations. Respected industry analysts define External Asset Attack Surface Management (EASM) as tools and functionalities that continually scan, discover, enumerate, and identify Internet-facing assets.
The goal is to reduce the number of entry points into the corporate network by reducing the digital attack surface and limiting the physical one via strategies such as zero trust security and implementing proper risk-based access control.
Conduct Regular Scans
The first step in continuous monitoring is identifying the hardware devices and software applications that connect to your organization’s networks. This is typically accomplished with a CAASM tool. This enables a comprehensive inventory of all digital assets and their associated vulnerabilities. It should also include third-party vendors’ security obligations.
Once the inventory is complete, using this data to create a threat model is essential. This will help you determine the likelihood and impact of a vulnerability exploit and prioritize remediation accordingly.
Vulnerability scanning is a core component of an attack surface management program, providing real-time visibility into the risk landscape. This includes identifying and tracking all software versions, patches, configurations, and other risks attackers could leverage to access sensitive information. It also involves eliminating unnecessary complexity – for example, removing unused features and interfaces – and leveraging tools and strategies like micro-segmentation to reduce the attack surface.
Create a Zero-Trust Architecture
Organizations must adopt Zero Trust principles as traditional security models no longer protect against advanced threats and lateral movement. This framework uses advanced technologies such as risk-based multi-factor authentication, identity protection, and next-generation endpoint security alongside micro-segmentation to verify users, devices, and data. This helps to limit the “blast radius” of any breach if it does occur and ensures that internal attackers can’t access sensitive data or networks from anywhere.
It’s also important to consider the use of most minor privilege policies, ensuring that all credentials, including non-human accounts (such as service accounts), are only given the capabilities they need to function. This reduces the attack surface and helps to prevent the exploitation of orphaned; stale user accounts that are common in many cyberattacks. This critical component of continuous verification is essential for implementing a zero-trust architecture. In addition, a robust threat detection and response platform that provides behavioral analytics and contextual information can be used to support this approach, ensuring a solid foundation for zero-trust.
Perform Independent Endpoint Monitoring
A cyberattack is a weapon in the hands of bad actors, who can use it to steal data, access critical systems, and cause financial loss and reputational damage. Understanding the attack surface and vectors enables organizations to fortify assets, safeguard sensitive information, and minimize vulnerabilities.
Achieving this goal requires a combination of tools and strategies. This includes minimizing complexity, regularly scanning all digital and physical assets, and deploying network segmentation to isolate and protect individual environments.
Continuous discovery and monitoring of all endpoint devices is necessary, as it allows security teams to detect and address threats quickly. This includes evaluating software versions, patch levels, and configurations to identify vulnerabilities attackers could exploit. Additionally, network segmentation ensures that if one environment is compromised, it can’t affect other system parts. This makes it easier to recover data and systems and reduces the impact of a cyberattack.
Prioritize Vulnerability Remediation
Identifying an organization’s assets is a good start, but once they are mapped out, they must be analyzed and prioritized for vulnerability remediation. This is key to avoiding alert fatigue derailing infosec and DevSecOps teams’ efforts to manage the attack surface.
A risk-based prioritization approach helps address the most critical vulnerabilities first without overwhelming security teams with unmanageable alerts. It also gives the team a clear sense of order and direction for tasks and assignments, which can help reduce human error, the leading cause of cyberattacks.
Attackers are on the move, and they can scan and inventory vulnerable internet-facing internal systems within an hour of a CVE disclosure. For this reason, defenders need to be faster than attackers at discovering and mapping out their internal attack surfaces. This can be done by documenting vital details about an issue and ensuring that all parties involved in remediation have easy access to that documentation.