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Attack Surface Management explained

by Sebastiaan Bosman Blog 7 Jan 2021

It's the term we use the most: Attack Surface Management. It is the foundation of your organisation’s digital infrastructure. It’s the starting point of your IT security policies, configuration database management, vulnerability mitigation, and much more.

In this blog, we’ll shortly describe what drives the need for an Attack Surface Management solution, share our definition of the term attack surface, and explain how it minimises the risks to your brand.

Why is attack surface management important?

A solution is only helpful if it solves a problem. The need for any IT security tool is driven by external factors. We see three major influences:

  1. Threat evolution
  2. Technology evolution
  3. Regulatory trends

Threat evolution is about the way criminals try to obtain data or money and how you can defend yourself from these methods. This is a constant back-and-forth. Close one door, and threat actors will try to enter through a different one. Though no organisation is 100% cyber-secure, understanding where threats are coming from and taking preventative measures is a continuous necessity.

Technology evolution is mostly about digitisation. Organisations undergo digital transformations and move more services and infrastructure to cloud environments and external suppliers. This makes monitoring and managing the different systems more complex as well.

Regulatory trends dictate to what standards organisations must comply. These compulsory measures can come from insurance companies, governmental bodies, or market authorities. For example, the European Banking Authority has made the measurable management of third parties in your supply chain obligatory for financial organisations.

There is a place where these three factors come together and mix with the rest of your organisation: your attack surface.

What is an attack surface?

We define an attack surface as a compilation of all digital assets related to the brand. This includes your domains, third parties, netblocks, shadow IT, but also external phishing websites, brand abuse, and supply chain risk. Furthermore, we define an attack surface on the basis of a few characteristics:

Firstly, it’s important to understand that any organisation’s attack surface is a dynamic thing. It is always evolving, growing and shrinking in different parts, it’s differently interpretable and contextual. And almost always is it bigger than estimated.

As an attack surface is so dynamic, the typical static analyses of digital assets just won’t cut it as you’ll be falling behind on the data. Even selecting the data to check wields blind spots, as you most likely have some sort of shadow IT.

That’s why our Attack Surface Management solution works without a pre-defined IT space, and finds the assets related to your brand for you. We call this outside-in method a zero-scope approach.

Secondly, identifying and mapping the assets in the attack surface is simply too time-consuming to do manually. That is why our AI-powered platform works automated and continuously, yet is still guided by Analyst Intelligence (AI²) for optimal queries and results. It allows for faster asset inventory and managing on exceptions. And as it operates in the cloud, there is no installment necessary. We call this zero-touch. 

From digital risk to business risk

The data coming from our Attack Surface Management platform does not only help you mitigate cyber-risks to strengthen your security, it also provides the insights into the efficiency of systems and tools you already have. And with risk-over-time analyses, you’ll be able to see which governance processes work and which are in need of an update.

Having the right insights into your attack surface will benefit your whole organisation. Protecting your employees, customers, and brand is critical. Combining that with the information needed to make data-driven business decisions makes an attack surface solution the main starting point of any IT process.


Interested to see what other use cases can be solved with attack surface management? Click the button below for more examples. 

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Or request a demo if you want to know what our Attack Surface Management solution can do for your organisation's security.

Sebastiaan Bosman is Content Marketeer at Cybersprint.
With an educational background in Communications and Linguistics, he is responsible for creating and editing most of the internal and external communication. He writes content such as blogs, whitepapers, product sheets, and case studies, primarily based on Cybersprint’s own research data.
Previously, Sebastiaan worked as Content & Communications Advisor at ING Global. 

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