Security Solutions

4 mins

External Attack Surface Management vs Continuous Automated Red Teaming

In today's digital age, organizations are facing a constant barrage of cyber threats. To minimize the risk of a data breach, companies must take proactive steps to secure their networks, applications, and systems. Two popular solutions for identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities are External Attack Surface Management and Continuous Automated Red Teaming. In this blog, we will compare these two solutions, their use cases, and recommendations for when and who should use them.

1st refresher: External Attack Surface Management

External attack surface management (EASM) is a method of identifying, monitoring, and managing an organization's digital assets that are exposed to the internet. EASM solutions use various techniques such as finding previously unknown assets and understanding what they are. These solutions provide organizations with a comprehensive view of their external attack surface, detecting and addressing threats that would have gone unnoticed.

Read our other blog to learn more about EASM and how to minimize your attack surface.

2nd refresher: Continuous Automated Red Teaming

Continuous Automated Red Teaming (CART) is an automated framework that simulates real-world attacks on an organization's network, applications, and systems. CART solutions use various attack scenarios to identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of an organization's security measures. CART solutions continuously run in the background, providing ongoing assessments and reports on an organization's security posture.

Read our other blog to learn more about CART and how it can help utilize automation, reduce human error and enable efficient and timely testing.

Use Cases: EASM vs. CART

Although both solutions aim to fortify security posture, they serve distinct functions and offer different advantages that cater to various organizational needs.

External Attack Surface Management Continuous Automated Red Teaming
EASM is primarily focused on identifying and managing an organization's digital assets that are exposed to the internet CART is focused on identifying vulnerabilities across an organization's entire network, including systems and applications
EASM provides a comprehensive view of an organization's external attack surface CART provides a more targeted assessment of an organization's security posture by assessing weaknesses
EASM is useful for asset discovery, risk management, and compliance. CART is ideal for security control validation and benchmarking security performance.

Your business’s choice: EASM vs. CART

To evaluate which solution is more suitable for your specific business’s needs, consult The Vulnerability Management Maturity Model, which offers a framework for organizations to evaluate their ability to identify, prioritize, and remediate security vulnerabilities. Organization’s maturity stages are classified as the following:

  1. Reactive: Action is taken after an incident occurs.
  2. Foundation: Vulnerabilities are identified and remediated, but not in an organized or systematic manner.
  3. Proactive: A formalized process is established to manage vulnerabilities.
  4. Strategic: Vulnerabilities are managed throughout their lifecycle.
  5. Optimal: Predictive analytics and automation are used to identify and manage vulnerabilities proactively.

An organization's position on this model directly impacts its choice between EASM and CART. Those at a lower level (reactive or foundation) might find more value in EASM as it helps identify and manage vulnerabilities systematically. More mature organizations (proactive, strategic, optimal) can benefit more from CART, which helps test existing systems and discover hidden weaknesses.

Here are our recommendations for when and who should use each solution:

External Attack Surface Management Continuous Automated Red Teaming
Organizations at the early stage of their vulnerability management journey that needs a more robust foundation. Organizations with established security measures that want to validate the effectiveness of those measures continuously.
Organizations that have a large external attack surface and need to prioritize vulnerabilities based on the level of risk. Organizations that need to focus on finding vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
Organizations that need to comply with various regulatory requirements, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, or NIS2. Organizations that want to continually monitor for new threats.

A final word

It's crucial to remember that neither EASM nor CART are standalone solutions. Rather, they should be incorporated as part of a broader, multi-layered cybersecurity. EASM provides a proactive approach to identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities, while CART allows organizations to validate existing security measures continuously. Organizations must evaluate their specific needs and choose the solution that best fits their security posture.

To learn about how Leroy Merlin, a leading home improvement and gardening retailer, discovered unknown assets and protected PII by combining EASM with CART, read our case study.

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