Attack Surface Management Mistakes to Avoid

Last updated: January 24, 2022


Companies and organizations across the world spend an exponential amount of time, resources, and effort into integrating technology. The introduction of cloud-based storage, public servers, and more have also introduced unique security risks and vulnerabilities. 

Though the internet-based world is now vital for companies to function, the same organizations need to constantly upgrade their security. As the company and its networks expand, the digital attack surface expands with it. This allows complex cyberattacks to cause huge damage by ‘slipping into the cracks’, which are the vulnerabilities. 

This is why, Attack surface management is vital to secure a company’s assets, especially those running online. ASM is the continuous discovery, classification, and monitoring of digital assets that possess or transmit sensitive data. In simpler terms, attack surface management involves launching a cyber attack on your attack surface to discover any vulnerabilities that can be used by external threats. 

Expensive Attack Surface Management Mistakes to Avoid

Attack Surface Management is crucial to an organization, but when done improperly, can cause a heavy and expensive toll on the company. Here are a few mistakes to avoid at all costs, to ensure effective ASM: 

  • Inconsistent monitoring: 

Your organization is bound to have numerous assets, including traditional IT and dynamic assets. You may have many assets outside your perimeter and may find many threats appear within your computing system as well. Each of these assets can be breached in numerous ways and if they aren’t continuously monitored in real-time, even an attack lasting a few seconds can crush these assets.

Reaction time can further be delayed due to discovering the vulnerability being attacked. Continuous, real-time monitoring and analysis of the entire attack surface allows you to quickly discover any incoming threats and react almost instantly to them. 

  • Never Skip Inventory: 

Inventorying every single one of your assets is essential to minimize security threats. Traditional on-premise systems are mostly static and do not work for modern cyberattacks. A multidimensional attack surface that hosts multiple assets including IT infrastructure and dynamic assets like SaaS apps.

Having an inventory of each new asset is vital to monitor your assets constantly and look for threats. Consider broad asset coverage, because if your ASM only covers a few types of assets, you’re leaving your network wide open for attacks. A risk-based vulnerability management system can help identify every asset and drastically reduce the reaction time to any attack. 

  • Non-Risk Based Prioritization: 

Prioritizing what assets or vulnerabilities get fixed, when they get fixed and when an asset gets added to the inventory cannot be based on generic severity ratings. A risk-based prioritization that reflects numerous factors over each one of your assets is something that should be mandatory.

If your ASM does not take into account factors like vulnerabilities across all attack vectors, the value of each asset, active and passive threats, and more, then the prioritization it offers has no real value against the prevention of attacks. Move to a risk-based prioritization system where the ASM understands the business context, business value of each asset and takes into account all the discussed factors. 

This allows you a much broader leeway to properly mitigate your prevention and reaction tactics, and exercise already existing controls that are meant to be implemented at the time of an attack. This model allows you to prioritize your actions based on risk, allowing you to reduce your risk and chance of damage. 

These are three of the costliest Attack Surface Management Mistakes you should look to avoid. Apart from this, you need to invest in a credible, skilled vendor who can handle your company’s requirements. If you hire an incompetent vendor and outsource your security to them, the outcome could be catastrophic. So keeping these in mind, invest in your next security systems wisely! 

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