Wednesday 2nd August 2023

BLOG: Outsmarting Cyber Adversaries – A Closer Look at External Attack Surface Management

Organisations are presented with a significant challenge in protecting their digital assets from cyber threats. Cyber adversaries, armed with sophisticated tools and techniques, relentlessly exploit vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access to sensitive information. Among the myriad strategies to bolster cyber defence, managing the external attack surface emerges as a crucial pillar of an organisation’s cybersecurity framework. This blog looks into the concept of External Attack Surface Management and explores how it helps organisations stay one step ahead of cyber adversaries.

Understanding the External Attack Surface

An organisation’s external attack surface refers to all the points where its digital infrastructure interfaces with the outside world, including but not limited to web applications, servers, APIs, and internet-facing assets. These entry points provide cyber adversaries with potential avenues for launching attacks such as DDoS attacks, data breaches, and application vulnerabilities. Understanding and monitoring this external attack surface is vital to proactively detect and mitigate potential threats before they can be exploited.

The Role of External Attack Surface Management

External Attack Surface Management is the systematic process of identifying, analysing, and reducing an organisation’s digital attack surface. It involves mapping and tracking all external-facing assets, continuously monitoring for vulnerabilities, and swiftly remedying any weaknesses or misconfigurations. By employing EASM, organisations can effectively outsmart cyber adversaries by closing off potential entry points and reducing their overall attack surface.

Key Components of External Attack Surface Management

  • Asset Discovery: The initial step in EASM involves identifying all internet-facing assets, including domains, subdomains, IP addresses, and cloud resources. Advanced reconnaissance tools and techniques are used to ensure a comprehensive view of the organisation’s attack surface, including those that might not be evident through conventional methods.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Once the external assets are identified, vulnerability scanning tools are deployed to assess and analyse potential weaknesses. Regular scans help uncover vulnerabilities such as outdated software, misconfigurations, or weak access controls, enabling timely remediation.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Cyber threats are dynamic and ever-changing. Continuous monitoring of the external attack surface is vital to ensure that new assets and vulnerabilities are promptly detected. Employing threat intelligence feeds and security information and event management (SIEM) systems provides valuable insights into potential threats.
  • Risk Assessment: Not all vulnerabilities pose the same level of risk to an organisation. Conducting risk assessments allows organisations to prioritise and allocate resources efficiently to tackle critical threats first.
  • Incident Response Planning: Despite thorough EASM practises, no system can be completely impervious to attacks. Having a well-defined incident response plan is essential to minimise the impact of any successful breach and promptly recover from potential security incidents.

Benefits of External Attack Surface Management

  • Proactive Cybersecurity: EASM shifts the cybersecurity approach from reactive to proactive. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities before adversaries can exploit them, organisations can significantly reduce their attack surface and mitigate potential risks.
  • Enhanced Regulatory Compliance: In an era of stringent data protection regulations, EASM helps organisations meet compliance requirements by maintaining a robust security posture.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Addressing security issues at an early stage is more cost-effective than dealing with the consequences of a data breach. External Attack Surface Management helps organisations avoid the financial and reputational damage associated with cyber incidents.

As cyber adversaries become increasingly cunning and sophisticated, organisations must deploy comprehensive cybersecurity strategies that encompass External Attack Surface Management. By adopting proactive practises, continuously monitoring their digital footprint, and responding swiftly to potential threats, organisations can outsmart cyber adversaries and safeguard their valuable digital assets. To find out more about how the Orpheus platform can help with this, click here.

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