Randori named leader in Attack Surface Management in GigaOm ASM Radar Report

March 23, 2023

Attack Surface Visibility: Prioritizing The Risk From An Attacker’s Perspective

By: Randori Blog

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Attack surface visibility has never been more important in today’s climate of ever-increasing cyberattacks. A thorough ASM strategy will visualize your attack surface from an attacker’s perspective in order to stay ahead of potential threats. 

What is Attack Surface Visibility?

Cyber threat actors can manipulate an organization’s digital attack vectors, which are the potential pathways for accessing private or proprietary information, to increase its attack surface.  Attack surface management, otherwise known as ASM, is a major focus for the multibillion-dollar cybersecurity industry. ASM teams approach their management of an organization’s attack surface from either the external or internal perspective, though external attack surface management is beginning to show the greatest advantage against cyber attacks.

An External View of The Attack Surface

Attack Surface Visibility is an integral aspect when it comes to external Attack Surface Management. At its essence, Attack Surface Visibility can be simplified as an awareness of the entirety of an organization’s digital attack surface as seen by an outside cybersecurity threat. The ability to map and visualize the entire attack surface is so crucial to properly securing digital assets, especially considering that most organizations are not aware of the extent of their attack surface. Unknown attack vectors, and other digital assets, are unsecured assets. They are prime targets for cybersecurity threat actors to use in order to breach even the most robust security perimeter. 

Put metaphorically, an organization’s security perimeter is like the wall of a fortress. Every inch of the wall, and all of its entrances, windows, crevices, and cracks, is the fortress’ attack surface. If there is a weakness that the fortress doesn’t know about, an attacking enemy can exploit that weakness without the fortress’ guards even noticing. However, if the guards thoroughly and systematically map out the entirety of their outside wall, no potential weakness will go unseen and unprotected. 

This is the goal of Attack Surface Visibility: continuous and systematic mapping of the security perimeter of your organization from an external perspective so that no aspect of the attack surface goes unsecured.

Expanding The Attack Surface

Attack surface visibility starts by expanding an organization’s attack surface to include all of its digital assets, secure or insecure, known or unknown, beyond typical attack vectors or previously identified threats. To visualize the attack surface from the perspective of a cybersecurity threat, it’s important for Attack Surface Management teams to include their entire digital ecosystem, including cloud assets, hardware and software, third-party vendors, and all organizational networks, devices, and personnel. 

Benefits of Attack Surface Visibility

In a world where the threat of cyberattacks is increasingly common and where the effects of a data breach are exponentially devastating, it’s more important than ever to have a complete and robust cybersecurity posture. The cybersecurity world is constantly striving to stay one step ahead of the enemy, and the most effective way to ensure the safety of an organization’s digital assets is to view them through the eye of the attacker. 

In this way, the external attack surface visibility is the first step in creating an impenetrable cybersecurity perimeter. Attack surface management teams approach a digital ecosystem with the same fine-tooth scrutiny that a cyber threat would. They expose the weakness, creating a complete picture of the attack surface. Without this complete picture, attack vectors will go unnoticed, creating easy points of entry for cybersecurity threats.

Mapping the Attack Surface From The Outside-In

Fully mapping the external attack surface is not an easy task. Every time an organization makes changes to its digital assets, such as increasing its dependence on cloud storage, expanding its remote workforce, or updating software, applications, or devices, it expands its attack surface. There are several key aspects of successfully mapping the external attack surface for optimal visibility, but the most important is how thorough the mapping is and that it is continuous.

Asset Discovery

In order to successfully and thoroughly visualize the attack surface, an ASM team should be continuously monitoring an organization’s constantly growing digital ecosystem, including assets that have been forgotten about or are inactive. External attack surface management teams devote a lot of time and ingenuity to creating systems that discover all the digital assets in the organization’s digital ecosystem, including inactive files, outdated software, and hidden assets. Asset discovery is a crucial step in mapping attack surface visibility that needs to be repeated often.

Continuously Monitored

The other crucial aspect of full attack surface visibility is continuous monitoring. As an organization grows, shifts, or updates, new weaknesses are naturally created. An attack surface management team needs to continuously monitor the security perimeters and all digital assets for new attack vectors or other potential weaknesses. Cybersecurity teams can achieve complete assurance that they have fully mapped their attack surface only by implementing systematic and automated monitoring.

Know Your Attack Surface

Attack surface visibility is crucial to maintaining the security of an organization’s digital ecosystem, and thus, its livelihood, viability, and reputation. A thoroughly mapped attack surface should be a priority to your IT and security teams, if not, there will be attack vectors that slip through unnoticed and unsecured. Do you worry that you haven’t fully visualized your attack surface? Randori’s attack surface management teams can help. Let us give you the peace of mind that comes with proper attack surface visibility.

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