Gartner Trends: In 2024, CTEM is Top Priority for Enterprises

Posted by: Batya Steinherz
October 31, 2023
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Well, it’s almost the end of the year and you know what that means? 

It’s time for all the predictions/wrap up/upcoming trends blogs and reports to start pouring in. And Gartner, never one to miss a good content opp, just released their forward-looking trend report, Top Strategic Technology Trends 2024. It’s jam packed with lots of interesting insights into what may prove to be the upcoming year’s most impactful security trends. The report covers lots of things, but of greatest interest to us is what occupies the number 2 slot, Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM), behind AI Trust, Risk and Security Management. 

So ICYMI, what is CTEM, how can it deliver such a massive reduction in breaches, and why is it grabbing so much mindshare? 

In this blog, I’ll cover where this trend has gone since it was first released and give you, dear reader, a glimpse into why it’s proving so fundamental.

CTEM Explained

So Gartner is calling CTEM a “pragmatic and systemic approach to continuously adjust cybersecurity optimization priorities.” 

Great – but what does that actually mean?

Well as we have said before, CTEM is not technology, but rather a framework designed to assist organizations with continuous monitoring, assessment, and reduction of threats. It also helps validate the efficacy of exposure management and remediation efforts.

CTEM enables ongoing evaluation of an organization’s complete ecosystem – networks, systems, assets, and other components – to pinpoint vulnerabilities and deficiencies. The fundamental objective of CTEM is to lower the probability that weaknesses will be leveraged. It accomplishes this via a five-stage approach:

  1. Scoping
  2. Discovery
  3. Prioritization
  4. Validation
  5. Mobilization

CTEM was introduced to the world in a 2022 report titled “Implement a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) Program.” During the past year – arguably one of the most challenging ever from a cybersecurity perspective – a lot of organizations prioritized putting the CTEM framework into action. 


That’s pretty simple; the traditional focus on technology-centric attack surfaces and vulnerability self-assessments has produced piles of seldom-acted-upon reports and reams of generic remediation lists…but hasn’t really stopped that many cyberattacks. 

While vulnerability management programs struggle to keep pace with rapidly evolving threat landscapes, CTEM provides a consistently actionable security posture remediation and enhancement plan – a plan that can be easily understood by the C-suite and be actionable by architectural teams.

This is because the contemporary security landscape is hindered by the lack of awareness among teams regarding the threats they confront. Efforts are often spread so thin that they can’t yield tangible results. CTEM solves this by enabling organizations to continuously visualize their attack surface and enhance their security posture through the identification and remediation of potentially vulnerable areas. Perceiving exposures and how they might be exploited by an attacker is key to fortifying defenses.


Here are some more reasons for its surge in popularity:

  • CTEM aligns exposure assessment cycles with both specific business projects and critical threat vectors. This ensures that security efforts are precisely tailored to the areas that matter most to an organization. It also helps organizations focus resources where they are needed most, enhancing efficiency and efficacy of security measures.
  • CTEM goes beyond addressing patchable vulnerabilities. Instead, it helps organizations recognize the importance of addressing unpatchable exposures. This comprehensive approach makes organizations better equipped to fortify defenses and reduce overall risk. 
  • CTEM validates exposure and remediation priorities. By considering the attacker’s perspective and rigorously testing the effectiveness of security controls, CTEM facilitates a shift in perspective that is crucial to crafting a robust defense strategy. 
  • CTEM encourages the shift away from tactical and technical responses, towards evidence-based security optimization. This transition is facilitated by improved cross-team collaboration, alongside a more proactive approach to cybersecurity.


How to Get Started

If you want to start integrating CTEM into your organization, it’s essential to align CTEM initiatives with your existing risk awareness and management programs. This alignment ensures that CTEM is not viewed as a standalone effort but rather as an integral part of the overall organizational security strategy. 

Weaving CTEM into the fabric of your risk management efforts provides a relatable business-led focus. This allows stakeholders to see the direct connection between exposure mitigation and broader business objectives. And by prioritizing mitigation efforts based on business value, you can create a more compelling case for investing in CTEM and garner greater support from leadership – and that, as they say, is a good thing. 

By integrating all these elements into your CTEM strategy, you will be far better equipped to identify, assess, and mitigate threats effectively while demonstrating tangible business value. 

If you predict that getting started with CTEM will be a priority for your org in 2024, watch this spot! In the next week, we will be releasing our upcoming white paper, A Practical Guide to Operationalizing The Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) Framework by Gartner ® With XM Cyber. 

Can’t wait to share it with you!


How does Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) integrate with existing cybersecurity frameworks?

The Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) framework is designed to complement and enhance existing cybersecurity frameworks by providing a continuous, real-time approach to threat management. Traditional frameworks often emphasize periodic assessments and audits to identify vulnerabilities and manage risks. In contrast, CTEM focuses on an ongoing evaluation and mitigation process. It integrates with these frameworks by fitting into the risk management and mitigation strategies already in place, augmenting them with a more dynamic approach. This includes real-time monitoring and analysis, automated threat detection, and proactive threat hunting. By doing so, it ensures that the security posture of an organization is always up-to-date with the latest threat landscape, making existing frameworks more effective in addressing security challenges.

What specific technologies or tools are commonly used in a CTEM program to monitor and assess threats continuously?

In a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program, a variety of technologies and tools are employed to continuously monitor and assess threats. These typically include advanced threat detection systems, which use algorithms to detect anomalies and potential threats in real-time. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are also crucial, aggregating and analyzing log data from various sources within the organization to identify suspicious activities. Vulnerability assessment tools are used to regularly scan the IT environment for known vulnerabilities, while penetration testing tools simulate cyber-attacks to identify weaknesses. Furthermore, configuration management tools ensure that systems are configured correctly and consistently, minimizing security gaps. Together, these technologies provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s threat landscape, enabling proactive management and mitigation of risks.

Can you provide examples of how CTEM has successfully reduced breaches in real-world scenarios?

Although specific company names and details are often kept confidential due to security and privacy concerns, there have been notable instances where adopting a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) approach has significantly reduced breaches. Similarly, a tech company faced with frequent attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in its software development process implemented CTEM to continuously monitor its codebase and deployment environments. This allowed for immediate identification and remediation of security flaws, thereby preventing several potentially catastrophic breaches. These examples illustrate the effectiveness of CTEM in dynamically adapting to the threat landscape and significantly mitigating the risk of security breaches.

What are the common challenges organizations face when implementing a CTEM program, and how can they be overcome?

Implementing a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program comes with its set of challenges, including integration complexity, resource allocation, and staff training. The integration of CTEM processes and tools into existing IT and security infrastructures can be complex, requiring careful planning and execution to ensure compatibility and minimize disruptions. Organizations can overcome this by conducting thorough needs assessments and choosing solutions that offer flexibility and scalability.

Allocating sufficient resources, both financial and human, to a CTEM program is another common hurdle. Overcoming this involves securing executive support by demonstrating the long-term cost benefits of reducing security breaches through proactive management. Lastly, staff may require training to effectively use new CTEM tools and to adopt a more proactive security mindset. Addressing this challenge involves providing comprehensive training programs and promoting a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the organization. By acknowledging and proactively addressing these challenges, organizations can effectively implement a CTEM program and strengthen their cybersecurity posture.

Batya Steinherz

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