Attack Surface Management: How to Cope in 2023

Hiral Rana
Published 05/26/2023
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Attack Surface Management in 2023In the constantly evolving world of cybersecurity, attackers are always looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit.

While cybersecurity technology continues to advance, so do the methods of cyberattacks.

According to research, cyber crimes are forecasted to cost organizations an estimated $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 worldwide.

Because of this, it has become imperative for organizations to adopt effective cybersecurity strategies.

One crucial strategy that any organization can adopt to fight against emerging cybersecurity threats is Attack Surface Management.

In fact, Attack Surface Management (ASM) has now become a critical aspect of cybersecurity for organizations all over the world.

With new technologies and changes in the threat landscape, protecting your digital assets in 2023 demands a more proactive and comprehensive approach to attack surface management.

In this article, we’ll explore the primary reasons behind the changing landscape of attack surface management and how to cope with it in 2023.

What is Attack Surface?

An attack surface refers to collecting all possible entry points or attack vectors within an organization’s network that cybercriminals could exploit.

These entry points include hardware, software, network devices, applications, services, personnel, and business processes.

By effectively managing the attack surface, organizations can strengthen their overall cybersecurity posture and reduce the likelihood of successful cyberattacks.

What is Attack Surface Management?

In simplest terms, attack surface management is a process that helps to identify, analyze, and reduce the potential avenues of a cyberattack on an organization’s network.

The goal of ASM is to evaluate the potential impact of an attack and prioritize remediation efforts to reduce the organization’s overall risk exposure and improve its security posture.

In a nutshell, ASM is an essential component of any organization’s cybersecurity program, which can help to ensure that the organization can quickly detect and respond to potential cyberattacks.



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Key Changes in Threat Landscape

The threat landscape is rapidly evolving. And with 2023 already underway, it is critical for organizations to adapt new attack surface management strategies to keep up with the changing threat landscape.

But to do so, organizations must get familiar with the new changes in the threat landscape before they can cope with them.

Here are some of the key changes in the threat landscape that organizations need to be aware of:

Rapidly Advancing Technology

As new technologies continue to emerge, the attack surface keeps on expanding, making room for new vulnerabilities to be born within an organization’s network. This includes the increasing use of IoT devices, cloud services, and artificial intelligence applications.

Unfortunately, attackers can easily exploit these technologies to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s systems and networks.

For this reason, organizations must continually monitor and manage their attack surface to defend their network against these emerging cyber threats.

Rise of Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work, increasing the number of endpoints that need to be secured and managed.

While managing the attack surface for remote workers can be extremely challenging, it is essential for organizations to protect their networks from rising cyberattacks.

Therefore, organizations must figure out ways to ensure that their remote workers have the necessary security controls and access controls in place to protect sensitive data and assets.

Increased Sophistication in Cyberattacks

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, using advanced techniques like social engineering, malware, and zero-day exploits to bypass security measures.

This has made it more challenging for organizations to detect and respond to attacks.

To overcome this, organizations must stay informed about emerging cyber threats and implement necessary security measures to eliminate the risk of such sophisticated cyberattacks.

Increased Regulations

The arrival of new regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), etc. have imposed strict data protection requirements in recent years.

Ultimately, these new regulations have forced organizations to adopt a more proactive approach to attack surface management. Neglecting to do so can lead to non-compliance with these mandatory regulations, resulting in significant fines and reputational damage.

Organizations must get on top of their attack surface management practices by staying compliant with these regulations.

How to Cope with the New Threat Landscape with ASM?

As you have just learned, the threat landscape has evolved rapidly since the COVID-19 pandemic. And coping with emerging cyber threats is not easy for organizations.

But, here are some strategies you can consider applying to protect your organization against emerging cyberattacks that are growing around the world.

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Entry Points

One effective way to reduce an organization’s attack surface is to eliminate unnecessary entry points. This usually includes closing unused ports and services, restricting remote access to only authorized users, and minimizing the number of internet-facing assets.

By reducing the number of potential entry points, organizations can reduce attack surface area and make it extremely difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access.

2. Segment your Network

Segmenting your network is another strategy that can help reduce the attack surface.

By dividing your network into smaller, isolated segments, you can limit the potential impact of a successful attack.

For example, if an attacker gains access to one network segment, they cannot move laterally and access other parts of the network.

Besides, network segmentation can also help enforce access control policies and reduce the risk of insider threats.

3. Adopt Zero-Trust Model

The Zero Trust model is a cybersecurity approach that assumes that no user or device can be trusted by default, and access to resources is granted only after authentication and authorization.

With a Zero Trust model, every request for access to sensitive data or resources is verified, regardless of whether it comes from inside or outside the organization.

By assuming that every user and device is a potential threat, the Zero Trust model can help reduce the attack surface and prevent unauthorized access.

4. Use Third-Party Solutions

Apart from the Zero Trust model, organizations can also consider leveraging third-party cybersecurity solutions like CAASM to supplement their attack surface management efforts.

Now, what is CAASM? — It’s one of the emerging cybersecurity solutions that help organizations in identifying, assessing, and remediating cybersecurity risks associated with their cyber assets.

The goal of CAASM is to reduce the attack surface area of an organization’s network so that cybercriminals cannot gain unauthorized access to its cyber assets.

By using such third-party solutions, organizations can identify potential vulnerabilities and mitigate potential cybersecurity risks before they can be exploited by hackers.

5. Provide Cybersecurity Training

In any organization, employees are often the first line of defense against potential cyber attacks.

That’s why organizations must take necessary steps to make their employees become aware of the latest threats and best practices for avoiding them.

By providing ongoing training, organizations can help employees to learn about the latest threats and how to avoid them, reducing the likelihood of successful attacks.

Cybersecurity training can cover topics such as phishing, social engineering, and password hygiene, which should be tailored to the specific needs of your organization.

Protect Your Digital Assets with Attack Surface Management

Attack surface management has become an essential part of an organization’s cybersecurity program.

By implementing attack surface management best practices, organizations can deal with the evolving threat landscape, reduce their attack surface, and mitigate the risk of successful cyberattacks.

That being said, it’s important to know that attack surface management is a shared responsibility that requires collaboration between all stakeholders, including employees, IT teams, and management.

But, by working together and adopting a proactive cybersecurity approach, organizations can remain one step ahead of emerging cyber threats.


Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.