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5 Reasons Security Teams Should Be Investing in Attack Surface Management

There is a rapid transformation underway and that is the migration into the cloud. The traditional on-premise environment has been redefined as organizations migrate to cloud environments and the need for a remote workforce increases. To address these changes with an evolving security posture, organizations must start with the foundation — knowing what you need to protect. Asset management is critical to understanding and building an accurate and full inventory of all IT assets associated with the organization.

In this blog, I will discuss five key reasons security teams should be investing in attack surface management and how an automated attack surface management tool such as the Censys Attack Surface Management (ASM) Platform can make cybersecurity professionals’ jobs a little easier.

1. Know Your Attack Surface … Like an Attacker

So what is attack surface management? Attack surface management ensures ongoing and continuous visibility into how your organization is perceived, from the outside by potential adversaries. Organizations need complete visibility into all Internet-facing assets, especially critical assets such as customer or proprietary data or assets that support maintaining the availability of the system. Before you can begin classifying, prioritizing, and mitigating risks, all assets must be accounted for.

Attack surface management allows for strategic planning and risk management. The first step to asset management is investigating and identifying assets. Insights from the Censys ASM Platform enable teams to make critical decisions to mitigate potential breaches and incidents. When considering whether or not all assets are accounted for, ask these five questions to gauge where your teams may have blindspots and whether it’s time to consider a product like the Censys ASM Platform that will automate and streamline this process for you.

  • What assets do you have?
  • Where are they and who has access?
  • How are you prioritizing your highest value assets?
  • What risks are associated with them?
  • What data is being stored or transmitted across each asset? And what (if any) regulatory requirements are there related to this data type?

If your team is struggling to answer any of the questions above with high confidence, you should be leveraging attack surface management to support your team.

2. Save your Team Time (and Headaches)

Say goodbye to wasting time while frantically tracking down assets amidst a crisis. For example, there’s a rogue IP with uncertainty around ownership since it is not a part of your typical IP space or hosting provider. The uncertainty brings about questions like, is it ours, but we just didn’t know about it? Is it an IP an attacker created to look like your infrastructure? The most efficient way to save time when it comes to the inventory process of your organization’s attack surface is to introduce a streamlined, automated approach. This is where our Censys ASM Platform comes into the picture.

The traditional manual approach of monitoring and shaping an attack surface requires a heavy lift, subject to human error. A recent study done by Cybint has found that roughly 95% of hacks occur due to human error. The ability to outsource the inventory process opens doors for security teams to effectively put their efforts towards addressing security concerns and remediating risks. Consider Censys ASM Platform as a tool used to optimize a team’s attack surface management program, allowing for confident decision making and accurate risk identification–starting with the lowest hanging fruit.

3. Save the Company or Organization Money

Cyber breaches and incidents can be costly, with an average data breach costing $3.86 million as of 2020. Attack surface monitoring allows for organizations to stay one step ahead. Money can be saved and put into a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach where risk is reduced.

An automated approach to attack surface monitoring also enhances security tools currently being utilized by the security team or organization. In addition to seamlessly integrating with popular security tools, it also allows for optimizing their usage by looking at every asset that touches the Internet. A full view into all assets that touch the Internet provides savings from spinning down unused assets and getting a handle on unused software subscriptions that could be costing the organization more money than realized. Plus, when assets aren’t protected with security tools you already invest a lot of time and money on, your security ROI drops significantly.

4. Support your Compliance Requirements

In a global study of 750 IT decision-makers, data revealed that organizations have each spent on average a whopping $70.3 million to comply with some data privacy regulation(s) within the last year. As an organization’s IT footprint grows more complex, identifying, assessing, and managing risk can be difficult. In the cybersecurity industry, there are a plethora of regulatory compliance regimes that must be adhered to, depending on data type and industry.

Regardless of the regulatory framework, HIPAA, FISMA, PCI-DSS, and/or GDPR — conducting continuous data inventory satisfies many of these compliance requirements, assisting in the adherence to regulatory standards by ensuring coverage of all inventory and data. CompTIA’s recent report found that over 65% of companies consider hiring a third-party organization specializing in attack surface management. Due to the tedious work that ensures accuracy in meeting these necessary standards, many organizations have found outsourcing to third-parties who automate many of the steps to reach compliance has saved organizations time and money while ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of many businesses’ IT assets.

5. Reduce Risk and Response Time

IBM’s Case Study on data breaches cites that on average, the time to identify a breach in 2020 was 207 days. On top of this, system downtime can cost upwards of $5,000 per minute. As organizations continue to migrate to the cloud and COVID-19 increases the amount of remote work, security professionals have an even more challenging task tracking and protecting their IT assets. Whether your team is trying to ensure all assets are being protected sufficiently or trying to respond and understand the impact of critical vulnerabilities like SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange, responding quickly reduces the potential impact and consequences to the organization.

At Censys, our platform helps security teams get their assets into a known and managed state, meaning we help you find everything that belongs to your organization on the Internet, even if outside sanctioned IT. This level of coverage and visibility not only helps you reduce cyber risk to your organization, but empowers your team to build a high quality security program.

What’s next?

At Censys, we value good, data-driven security that makes the lives of security practitioners and security leaders easier. Censys aims to help security teams and organizations secure the things that belong to them on the Internet. The Censys ASM Platform is a critical tool to have in the toolbox to ensure your constantly changing attack surface is well monitored and protected. Sign-up for a demo or visit our website today to learn more!


Hannah Roddy is a Solutions Engineer at Censys. She holds a Security and Risk Analysis degree with a minor in Information Sciences and Technology from Penn State University. Prior to her current role, she has worked within the DoD/Government sector as a Cyber Engineer.

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