5 Best Practices for Attack Surface Management

In recent years, the concept of attack surface management has begun to gain traction. When executed correctly, it can dramatically strengthen your security posture and reduce the odds of a serious data breach.
If you’re unfamiliar with the basics, let’s start with a quick review.

What is an Attack Surface?

The attack surface of a software environment can be defined simply as any and all points where unauthorized users can gain access. In other words, an attack surface is everywhere and anywhere you can be hacked.

Here’s the bad news: Attack surfaces have been growing larger and larger, making them more difficult to defend. Cloud computing, telecommuting and the natural tendency for systems to become more complex all help to create a target-rich environment for adversaries seeking to steal assets.

So how should defenders respond? Through attack surface reduction, naturally. That, however, is easier said than done if you don’t have the right attack surface management strategies and advanced attack surface tools.

How Cyber Attack Surface Management Helps Keep Your Assets Safe

Savvy security teams attack the problem of expanding attack services through a combination of surface management techniques, training, and tool deployment.

Let’s take a quick look at some core best practices for getting this accomplished:

  • Increase your attack surface visibility. This is a critical step toward reducing your risk, Security teams who are struggling with siloed tools while swimming in a sea of alerts are easily distracted and lack an overarching view of where they are vulnerable. Attack surface mapping or modeling is the gold standard in providing defenders with a comprehensive view of the attack surface. Modeling creates a visual depiction of the attack surface and possible attack paths.
  • Address your vulnerabilities. Once you can see what you’re defending through attack surface modeling you can take action to address the vulnerabilities that exist. It’s vitally important to prioritize effectively, however. Understanding the severity of a vulnerability is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to understand how exposures can be exploited and the risk that exists to your assets.
  • Monitor your endpoints. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a large increase in endpoints existing outside corporate networks. To help rein in the attack surface. it’s important to ensure that newly onboarded vendors and employees and new remote workers are given special attention.
  • Establishing a strong security culture. Most data breaches ultimately tie back to human error. Yet while people will never be perfect, creating strong policies and maintaining good IT hygiene can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of human error. This means strong password management and authentication, consistent patching policies, network segmentation when possible, maintaining control over privileges and permissions, limiting bring your own device options, reducing the amount of code running, and using superior encryption.
  • Deploy advanced attack surface management technology. Given the size and complexity of today’s attack surfaces, it’s impossible to maintain an acceptable level of security through conventional VM practices, firewalls, red team exercises, etc. Only when you achieve continuous visibility into the attack surface and how it changes can effectively manage it. To do that, you need the right automated tool.

Why XM Cyber Offers the Gold Standard in Managing Attack Surfaces

XM Cyber provides continuous and safe cyber-attack simulation that shows how adversaries can try to breach the networks and systems of organizations.

Our technology begins by mapping all the available attack paths. Our platform then shows the attack methods that adversaries can use while highlighting the true level of risk to your crown jewel assets. By providing unparalleled visibility into attack surfaces and the paths that can be used to jeopardize business-critical assets, XM Cyber helps provide the most powerful form of attack surface management possible.

As part of the process, XM Cyber offers prioritized recommendations for the optimal protection of the most critical assets. We also include an easy-to-understand security posture score that helps non-technical members of the organizational leadership understand the true level of risk to critical assets.

Given how quickly attack surfaces continue to expand, a better approach to managing them has become imperative. XM Cyber provides the most powerful, easy-to-integrate solution for reducing your surface and lowering your risk of a devastating breach.

Yohanan Berros is Customer Operations Manager at XM Cyber

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