How to pick an attack surface management solution?
The rapid pace of digital transformation at many organizations means their external attack surface is broad and getting broader. As such, External Attack Surface Management (EASM), defined by Gartner as “an emerging product set that supports organizations in identifying risks coming from internet-facing assets and systems that they may be unaware of,” is becoming increasingly important.
EASM is a proactive cybersecurity approach that embodies the hacker’s perspective but there are already a multitude of products available for organizations looking to reduce their attack surface. Choosing the right one depends on having a clear understanding of the key components that make up an effective EASM solution. We explain all this and more below.
The key components of EASM
The five key components of External Attack Surface Management are Asset Discovery, Contextualization, Risk Assessment, Prioritization, and Remediation. These aspects of EASM aim to provide genuine insights around your attack surface.
EASM tools identify all the digital assets exposed to the internet - including unknown ones - before evaluating which ones are critical, using scanning tools to understand weak points, evaluating risks based on their severity and fixing vulnerabilities or decommissioning assets if they are not needed.
Fitting EASM fits into your existing security posture
Any attack surface management solution, no matter how effective, will not safeguard organizations completely. Instead, it should form just one part of a more holistic Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) strategy.
Combined with other tools, such as intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and endpoint protection, integrating EASM into your CTEM strategy helps organizations build a robust security posture by ensuring that all potential attack vectors are accounted for and all necessary precautions are taken. Of course, cybersecurity maturity, asset complexity, and the capabilities of security personnel will determine if you’re ready to embrace CTEM but if you are, you’ll benefit from safeguards against cyber threats while also enjoying compliance with various cybersecurity regulations.
In addition, some organizations integrate EASM within the MITRE ATT&CK framework defense strategy. This provides a common language and taxonomy for security teams, covering the reconnaissance, resource development, initial access, discovery, and collection stages of an attack. EASM tools can help thwart adversaries at each of these stages by identifying exposed assets, securing them and reducing an organization’s attack surface.
How EASM helps mitigate current cybersecurity threats
Attack surface management solutions can help organizations defend against some of the most prominent cybersecurity threats currently out there, such as:
- Ransomware attacks: March 2023 saw a record 459 reported ransomware attacks. EASM helps organizations identify the vulnerabilities that allow ransomware exploits to infiltrate networks, like open ports, unpatched software, or misconfigured services.
- Supply chain attacks: Software supply chain attacks increased by 742% between 2019 and 2022. To stem the increase, EASM solutions can help identify vulnerabilities through continuous, comprehensive monitoring.
- Phishing: Although EASM tools cannot prevent a phishing attack directly, they can identify and take down fraudulent phishing websites.
- Human error: By providing organizations with an accurate inventory of digital assets, EASM solutions greatly reduce the likelihood of human error leading to security incidents.
Finding the right EASM solution from the right vendor
Selecting the right EASM solution for your organization involves understanding the key capabilities that these solutions offer and aligning them with your specific needs and objectives.
Risk prioritization is also crucial as not all risks are equal. It’s also a good idea to factor scalability into your choice of EASM tool. As your organization grows, so will its attack surface. Finding an EASM solution with a user-friendly interface should be another priority. This will decrease the learning curve faced by your security teams and promote wider adoption of the solution.
However, even if you’ve decided on an EASM tool, you’ll still need to find a vendor that matches your security goals. To select the right one, we believe there are four key questions you should ask:
- What is the vendor’s roadmap for its product development?
- What is the availability of the vendor’s technical support?
- What are the relevant use cases the vendor can support?
- What is the cost structure and return on investment (ROI)?
Only by asking the above questions can organizations be sure that vendors have a clear roadmap for future development, can offer robust technical support, and boasts transparent and predictable pricing.
Upcoming trends in EASM
With the digital landscape continuing to evolve rapidly, new trends are emerging that are set to have a major impact on the EASM field. For example, increasing levels of automation are already apparent, with organizations that use security automation able to resolve incidents up to 50% faster compared to those that rely on manual processes. This will drive further adoption of automation within EASM solutions.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will similarly face greater up-take. These technologies are set to play an increasingly important role in EASM, helping to identify patterns and anomalies that could indicate potential threats. They can also help to prioritize risks based on complex factors and predictive analysis.
Closer integration with other security tools is another trend, with organizations looking to gain a more comprehensive view of their vulnerabilities and defenses. This more holistic approach will also help businesses meet compliance requirements. EASM solutions will play a key role in helping organizations comply with regulations at a time when most organizations expect them to become more stringent.
Given these emerging and shifting trends, it’s essential that organizations are able to keep their EASM solutions future-proof. Organizations will need to ensure that their EASM solutions are regularly updated with software patches to address new vulnerabilities and that regular audits and assessments are carried out.
Adaptability to new technologies, including cloud computing, IoT, and AI, is another factor to be mindful of. The IT environment is not static so an effective EASM tool should be constantly evolving and adapting - to new trends and new threats.
Embracing EASM with Hadrian
The transition from traditional vulnerability management to EASM can undoubtedly present a challenge. But the rewards are significant. Hadrian, as a leading provider of EASM solutions, catalogs known and unknown assets wherever they are, investigates vulnerabilities by executing exploits like a threat actor and prioritizes risks for fast remediation based on your unique environment.
Depending on the maturity level of your vulnerability management program, Hadrian can help your organization leverage your existing capabilities to unlock the full potential of EASM. Our advanced EASM solution is designed to integrate seamlessly with your current processes, enhancing them without disrupting ongoing operations.