Cybersecurity

Close Security Gaps with Continuous Threat Exposure Management

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Continuous Threat Exposure Management

CISOs, security leaders, and SOC teams often struggle with limited visibility into all connections made to their company-owned assets and networks. They are hindered by the lack of open source intelligence and advanced technology necessary for the proactive, sustainable and effective discovery and protection of their systems, data and assets.

As advanced threat actors constantly look for exploitable vulnerabilities all the time, CISOs are pursuing better methods to reduce threat exposure and protect their assets, users and data from relentless cyber attacks and the severe consequences of breaches.

Responding to this need, emerging solutions that address the most critical priorities at the early stages of the attack chain have provided security leaders with new tools to manage exposure to the most pressing threats where they originate. Leading analyst firm Gartner Research explains the solution: “By 2026, organizations that prioritize their security investments based on a continuous exposure management program will be 3x less likely to experience a breach.” (Gartner, 2022).

But what exactly is covered here?

IT and security teams are constantly exposed to threats, and they must proactively address critical security holes in their exposed assets. By applying a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) Program., security teams can thwart their adversary’s objectives by minimizing the critical risks associated with exposed assets. This comprehensive approach incorporates prevention and remediation strategies to either a) completely prevent violations or b) significantly reduce the impact if violations do occur.

Faster Enemies, Inadequate Protection, and Preventable Incidents

In 2023, despite significant investments in security infrastructure and skilled personnel, existing approaches are struggling to effectively mitigate risk, manage threat exposure and prevent security breaches.

Current preventive cyber risk management techniques, while efficient, are time consuming, resource intensive, and prone to human error. Tasks such as detection, identification, and management of vulnerability patches continually demand substantial time and expertise to execute accurately. Delay or mishandling of this important activity could result in a possible security breach that could cost you financially.

Simultaneously, cybercriminals can easily gain initial access points to high-value targets via the dark web, thanks to ransomware-as-a-service and early-access brokers. Additionally, they can easily obtain compromised user credentials online, which are made available for use in targeted tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP).

Adding to the risks, cybersecurity skills gaps and economic factors have left many SecOps and DevOps teams understaffed, under-resourced and overwhelmed by warnings.

These factors combined result in limited visibility of SOC, giving threat actors an undue advantage. This tendency must be resisted and reversed.

Increased Attack Surface and Increased Threat Exposure

By 2022, external attackers are responsible for 75% of reported security breaches (IBM, 2022). These attacks are fast, complex, and pose a significant challenge to contemporary SOCs. To counter this threat, organizations must adopt a layered defense strategy, as their networks, systems and users are constantly being attacked by external threat actors with malicious intent.

Weaknesses, security loopholes, and inadequate controls contribute to a constantly evolving attack surface in which cybercriminals can exploit easily accessible threat exposures. Typically, these issues are handled by the vulnerability management function. However, as cybercriminals continually scan the vulnerable attack surface, looking for weak controls, unpatched assets and vulnerable systems, their TTPs are becoming extremely precise, extremely fast, and extremely effective.

Security teams need enhanced capabilities that offer precision, speed and flexibility to stay ahead of their adversaries.

Recognizing this, it is critical to prioritize the identification and remediation of critical security threat exposures, since most are preventable. By quickly detecting and addressing these exposures, CISOs can effectively shrink their overall attack surface and stop relentless expansion. Therefore, organizations must implement a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program that operates 24/7.

Building a Proactive CTEM program

Both large enterprises and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) should consider adopting a CTEM program to streamline conventional vulnerability management processes and minimize their attack surface. By proactively addressing vulnerabilities and using efficient risk management strategies, organizations can improve their security posture and reduce the potential consequences of a security breach. CTEM provides a holistic approach that goes beyond vulnerability management, providing intelligence, context, and data to give meaning and validation to findings.

Gartner Research defines a CTEM program as a cohesive and dynamic method for prioritizing the remediation and mitigation of the most pressing cyber risks while continuously improving an organization’s security posture: “CTEM includes a set of processes and capabilities that enable companies to continuously and consistently assess accessibility, exposure, and exploitation of the company’s digital and physical assets” (Gartner, 2022).

CTEM focus on DevSecOps

The CTEM program is structured into five distinct but interconnected phases, which must be executed in a cyclical fashion: defining scope, disclosing vulnerabilities, ranking priorities, verifying findings, and initiating action.

This stage facilitates a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s cyber threat landscape and enables security teams to take decisive and well-informed action. The mobilization phase of the CTEM program focuses on prioritizing vulnerabilities and risks based on asset criticality, ensuring rapid remediation, and instituting a seamless workflow for the DevSecOps team.

When implemented effectively, CTEM programs can prevent security incidents and breaches, accelerate risk reduction, and increase overall security maturity. Key features and capabilities of the robust CTEM program include:

  • Automated asset discovery and vulnerability management
  • Ongoing vulnerability assessment threat exposure in the attack surface
  • Safety validation to eliminate false positives and guarantee accuracy
  • Gaining visibility into the attacker’s perspective and potential attack path
  • Prioritize improvement efforts and integrate them with DevSecOps workflows

Start Your CTEM Program Today

Security executives need an ongoing Threat Exposure Management solution that enhances, supports, and expands the capabilities of their internal teams to neutralize threats in the first place, preventing costly and costly security breaches.

Through the continued development of CTEM, CISOs and security leaders can adopt a proactive and layered approach to combating cyber attacks, ensuring a prioritized and effective strategy. This comprehensive set of capabilities equips teams with powerful programmable tools that can substantially reduce cyber risks in real time while continuously improving security outcomes over the long term.

If you are interested in learning more about building a world-class approach to closing security holes with a Continuous Threat Exposure Management program, get in touch BreachLockGlobal Leader in Penetration Testing Servicesfor today’s discovery call.

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