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Where ASM Fits: A Comparison Guide of Security Tools


Attack surface management (ASM) is an emerging space for information technology (IT) and information security (IS) teams. But there is a common misconception among teams that ASM is designed to replace your other security software. Rather, ASM integrates seamlessly within your security stack, empowering all solutions to better protect both known and unknown assets across the Internet and the cloud. Let’s explore the differences between attack surface management vendors and other cybersecurity risk assessment tools, and more importantly, how ASM fits into your new or existing security stack.

What is Attack Surface Management (ASM)?

Your attack surface refers to all of your assets that are accessible from the Internet. With this in mind, an ASM complements an existing security stack by providing comprehensive, real-time internet attack surface discovery and scan data to help security teams clearly see their digital risk and exposure. Rather than replacing existing data sources, ASM is designed to supplement your security stack, fill gaps in threat awareness, and provide visibility into otherwise unknown blind spots. The four core elements of ASM are:

  1. Asset discovery and inventory: Discover unknown and unmanaged internet-facing assets across all clouds and networks in real-time.
  2. Risk detection and remediation: Algorithmic discovery automates the process of finding vulnerabilities quickly and provides your team with as much context as possible to remediate issues faster.
  3. Cloud security and governance: Uncover unknown cloud assets and identify possible misconfigurations across all cloud providers.
  4. M&A and subsidiary risk analysis: Assess a potential acquisition’s security posture from the outside-in while safeguarding your organization from acquiring a breach.

With an attack surface management solution in place, security teams no longer have to worry about common tools and procedures, such as:

  • Penetration testing.
  • Getting approvals to scan internal environments and third-party clouds
  • Third-party scanning
  • Discovery automation
  • Attribution process

By streamlining every step of the cybersecurity risk assessment process into one centralized location, including identifying assets across the Internet and the cloud and prioritizing them for mitigation, ASM frees up security professionals to focus on resolving the vulnerabilities with the greatest risk.

Where Does ASM Fit with Other Security Tools?

A common misconception among security teams is that ASM will replace your other security software. Rather, ASM seamlessly integrates into your new or existing security stack to complement and supplement each tool’s unique contributions to threat detection and response. This integration is especially important when it comes to cloud security solutions; 65% of high and critical risks are found in cloud assets, and security teams need to utilize the tools and solutions that have the most comprehensive view of the cloud and Internet.

Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) are security policy enforcement points between cloud service consumers and providers. Cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) zooms out to provide a cybersecurity risk assessment of the assets themselves. While these tools are important for the cloud attack surface security process, they only provide insight into an organization’s internal infrastructure. ASM completes the picture by scanning the entire internet and all external sources to identify and assess the vulnerability of assets outside the internal infrastructure.

Cloud misconfigurations are a very common issue for security teams — Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) continuously monitors known cloud services to identify misconfigurations. However, CSPM is only designed to identify misconfigurations within the cloud environments it knows to scan. ASM, on the other hand, scans the entire internet, cloud services, and other storage buckets to identify misconfigurations beyond those only known to the organization or the CSPM.

Security rating services (SRS) focuses on third-party security risk by gathering data from public and private sources, analyzing the data, and rating entity security posture using a proprietary scoring methodology. SRS on its own, however, cannot perform a complete cybersecurity risk assessment without access to important, and often unknown, security data. Integrating an ASM solution complements the SRS by providing additional insights into third-party partners through all internet and cloud sources.

ASM vs. VM
Vulnerability Management (VM) simulates the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of real-world attackers, which can provide visibility into existing security effectiveness and offer insights into addressing any pitfalls. VM homes in on software and code-based vulnerabilities to address a company’s internal on-premises and cloud-based cyber health. ASM works with VM by taking a step back to examine the security of the entire infrastructure, internal and external, by scanning every corner of the internet, cloud services, and other environments.

Complete your security stack with Censys ASM

Even a sophisticated, complex security stack does not provide complete visibility into vulnerabilities and risks. Censys fills in the gaps to provide organizations with a holistic approach to threat detection and response and the most comprehensive view of the Internet and the cloud in a head-to-head comparison of other attack surface management vendors.

To understand how your organization operates, attack surface management with Censys continually analyzes both known and unknown assets in every corner of the Internet and every cloud environment. Learn more about ASM and the top considerations for managing your attack surface here with this webinar.

Questions about Attack Surface Management? Contact our team at any time.

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