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Assessing Attack Surface Security Risks: Adding the M to ASM

You’ve vetted attack surface management vendors and integrated the tools to have complete visibility into the Internet and cloud with the right attack surface management solution. This is an essential step in risk-based vulnerability management. Now that you have 360-degree visibility into your attack surface, however, it can be daunting to know where to start with resolving threats and closing up exposed assets.

How do organizations get context into potential risks? What is the best way for IT teams to prioritize threats? In this blog, we’ll discuss the “management” in attack surface management — context of attack surface risk, proper prioritization of threats, and the technology and resources available to help organizations make the most of their attack surface visibility.

Potential risks revealed through risk-based vulnerability management

When IT teams gain complete visibility into their attack surface with ASM, it can shed light on extensive and detrimental risks that are leaving the organization exposed to potential attacks. Here are some of the most common types of risks that can be brought to light.

A misconfiguration is any incorrect or suboptimal configuration of an information system or system component. The most common misconfiguration security teams might notice are cloud misconfigurations, which refer to any gaps or errors that could expose your environment during cloud adoption, but you can also come across service misconfiguration, such as weak authentication or encryption methods, and name infrastructure misconfigurations, such as DNS record errors.

An exposure refers to a situation in which sensitive information, devices, or services are exposed to the Internet. Some common examples of exposures could include a device exposure, during which a physical device such as a laptop or mobile phone is exposed to the Internet, or an information leakage which happens when sensitive information is unintentionally exposed to the Internet.

A vulnerability is any weakness in an information system, system security procedure, internal control, or implementation that could be exploited or triggered by a threat source. Software vulnerabilities come in all shapes and sizes, including cryptographic vulnerabilities, remote code execution vulnerabilities, and outdated software vulnerabilities. Another common type of vulnerability is the web application security vulnerability, which refers to any vulnerability related to web servers, applications, and services.

A compromise is a disclosure of information to unauthorized persons, or a violation of the security policy of a system in which unauthorized intentional or unintentional disclosure, modification, destruction, or loss of an object occurs. When a compromise is identified, security teams should prioritize looking for what is known as “evidence of compromise,” which refers to a category of compromise for which there is traceable, and therefore resolvable, evidence.

Providing context to risk

With all of these different types of risk that ASM can illuminate, it becomes incredibly important for IT teams to understand the context of each individual risk. Not all risks hold the same weight, and it is essential to have a system in place that helps teams prioritize risks based on a number of relevant factors. Teams may ask themselves important questions, such as:

  • Where is the exposed asset located? Somewhere we host or somewhere on the internet not controlled by us?
  • How long has it been compromised? Is it a recently decommissioned program or has it been exposed for a long time?
  • What is the impact of the risk? Will its breach result in the exposure of high-security data, or is it, for example, test material that is less detrimental when exposed?

These questions are a great start to understanding how to prioritize your risks, but they can only do so much good without a risk-based vulnerability management solution that gathers and presents extensive data about every individual threat, giving security teams the resources to answer these questions and prioritize risks.

Prioritizing risks and threat

After gaining complete visibility into your attack surface, teams can only achieve the most efficient process of resolving risks by implementing methodical prioritization. By having a predetermined process in place to prioritize threats, security professionals can spend less time figuring out which risk to go after first and more time actually resolving issues.

What’s the best way to prioritize potential threats? Consider some important factors:

  • Exploitability: Assess exactly how exposed the asset in question is to the Internet and how easily it could be exploited if discovered by an attacker
  • Likelihood: Evaluate how likely it is that an attacker would come across the exposed asset on the Internet or in the cloud
  • Impact: Determine how severe and extensive the impacts would be if the exposed asset was identified and exploited by an attacker
  • Company priorities: There are rarely enough resources to protect every asset as thoroughly as the next; consider the importance of company priorities in protecting certain assets more vigorously than others

Context and prioritization with Censys ASM

Censys’ ASM is designed to help organizations learn everything about their attack surface by not only identifying risks but also providing essential context for those risks and prioritizing them effectively. With Censys risk-based vulnerability management, security teams can:

  • Learn everything they need to know about an exposure. Censys provides details for why it poses a risk to your organization, as well as recommended steps to remediate. We make available all of the data we have collected for the particular asset. This full context empowers teams to prioritize issues that could actually lead to a breach and have full confidence that the remediation plans are sound and effective.
  • See clear severity ratings for quick action. Each risk is given a severity rating that is based on its exploitability, likelihood, and impact. By establishing severity ratings that align with how an attacker would prioritize the weaknesses they find, the overall noise and inundation of less pressing alerts can be avoided.
  • Tune risk settings for their needs and resources. One host may be storing important customer data while another is part of a test environment. Censys customers can recast the severity of any risk on an asset level to fine-tune their list of priorities based on team capabilities or company priorities. Raise the alarms for a risk that is deemed to be critical or shrink the team’s to-do list by accepting risks.
  • Automate prioritization processes. Once prioritization preferences have tuned to the company’s needs and resources, Censys automatically prioritizes risks based on contextual factors and additional information provided internally. Teams can simply check the severity rating and dive into remediation, rather than spending extra time prioritizing manually.

Prioritize your risks now with Censys ASM

Complete visibility is only the first step toward understanding and resolving risks in your attack surface. Without full context and methodical prioritization, teams can’t effectively mitigate risks in a sustainable way. Censys knows the cloud and Internet better than anyone else, and our ASM is designed to put that knowledge in your hands with full transparency into your risks and automated prioritization—letting your team dive right into risk remediation.

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