How to Map Your Attack Surface

How to Map Your Attack Surface With Continuous Security Monitoring

Last Updated on 14 February 2023 by admin

In today’s digital climate, with new IT architecture and heavier reliance on IoT and devices, the attack surface is growing at an intractable speed.

Mapping your attack surface is an essential process for any organization that wants to proactively identify and mitigate potential security risks. By identifying your attack surface, you can better understand the various entry points that an attacker may use to gain unauthorized access to your systems and data.

This blog explores how to map your attack surface using continuous security monitoring.

What is an attack surface?

The attack surface is the sum of all possible security risk exposures (or potential attack vectors) on hardware and software that an attacker might use as a pathway to enter a network. In other words, it is everything outside of the firewall where internet-facing assets, such as email servers and mobile applications, are located. From there, a threat actor could access, exploit, and steal from your digital environment.

As your digital footprint grows so does your attack surface, which makes them difficult to map and manage. Increasing risk must therefore be addressed through a scalable security strategy to readily safeguard your systems even if your load increases.

Why is attack surface mapping important?

Attack surface mapping is important because it helps organizations identify potential vulnerabilities in their systems and networks. This allows them to take steps to mitigate those vulnerabilities and reduce the likelihood of a successful attack. By understanding the attack surface of their systems, organizations can focus their security efforts on the most critical areas and make the most effective use of their resources. In addition, attack surface mapping can help organizations comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards related to security.

How to map your attack surface

Known factors on the attack surface refer to assets that you are aware of and monitor, such as subdomains and general security processes. So, unknown factors (also called shadow IT assets) are most likely not being patched or updated – which could lead to a potential vulnerability or misconfiguration and could be exploited by a threat actor. You must be aware of any third-party assets too, as these also pose a serious risk to your overall security posture.

Attack surface mapping also known as attack surface monitoring, managing, and analyzing – provides continuous surveillance of your changing attack surface. Specifically, it detects assets that contain, transmit, or process your data while identifying vulnerabilities as they appear.

Mapping your attack surface informs you of:

  1. What the components of your attack surface are
  2. Where the attack vectors and exposures are located
  3. How to effectively secure your organization from cyber attacks

You cant remediate risks that you aren’t aware of, and security strategies become meaningless if they aren’t risk-based. So, this proactive method of cyber security helps CISOs and security leaders visualize, understand, and analyze their changing threat landscape. Implementing a continuous security monitoring process will empower you to make more informed cyber security decisions and improve productivity.

Asset discovery

Continuous asset discovery locates your assets (including those known, unknown, third-party, and rogue) and provides a passive inventory – an appealing solution to security professionals who can move away from time-consuming spreadsheets. The ability to discover assets in real-time will not only help you to better understand your evolving attack surface, but it also allows you to secure your external attack surface swiftly and accurately.

Informer, for example, uses a vast range of open-source intelligence techniques (OSINT) to find online assets you didn’t know you had, making mapping your attack surface simple. The asset discovery tool determines where in the world your assets are located while also identifying applications hosted on shared infrastructure in countries where assets may not be compliant with data or security regulations.

Vulnerability discovery

Vulnerabilities can be introduced at any time that can expand your attack surface. So, constant vulnerability discovery enables you to find your weaknesses within your applications and IT systems before attackers beat you to it. Any gaps in your security are identified in real-time which speeds up remediation and in turn, helps to fortify your digital infrastructure through a data-driven and risk-based approach.

Informer’s vulnerability discovery function continuously scans to find infrastructure and application-level vulnerabilities on assets that are both known and unknown to you. Combined with expert penetration testing, which is now integrated into the platform, the tool provides access to granular vulnerability data and actionable security insights.

In addition, the criticality-scoring system allows for the prioritization of vulnerabilities for remediation to help secure your evolving perimeter more efficiently.

Prioritizing vulnerability remediation

One of the most crucial elements of a modern vulnerability management program is vulnerability management prioritization. It’s imperative for IT and security teams to conduct a thorough risk analysis of serious vulnerabilities in the context of their organizations’ environments.

You must constantly correlate vulnerability disclosures with your organization’s asset inventory to acquire a comprehensive picture of the vulnerabilities that exist in each asset in order to prioritise remediation plans. Many organizations adopt a 4 steps of vulnerability remediation process to streamline workflows

  1. Identify: Detect vulnerabilities through scanning tools, manual penetration testing or automated security testing tools
  2. Prioritize: Understand the vulnerabilities that present a genuine and significant risk to your organization
  3. Fix: Patching, updating configuration, removing or fixing vulnerabilities as quickly as possible
  4. Monitor: Automated monitoring tools to unearth newly discovered vulnerabilities with alerting capabilities

Stay ahead of attackers with external attack surface monitoring

We firmly believe that cyber security strategies must evolve to keep up with the ever-changing threat interface in order to provide optimum security coverage. Informer enables you to map your attack surface and monitor changes to your environment to help reduce risk and improve your security posture.

Do you know where all your vulnerabilities are? Find out before attackers do with a complete view of your attack surface. Book a demo with us today to find out how you can make faster, smarter, and more accurate cyber-security decisions.