Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities and misconfigurations across an organization’s attack surface to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. The prevalence of digital transformation and outsourcing in the current threat landscape means an organization’s attack vectors can easily increase by millions each day. This ever-growing number makes it hard to identify cyber threats and prioritize remediation before a data breach occurs.
Automated attack surface management software helps security teams stay on top of both an organization and its vendors in a centralized platform that can monitor and manage vulnerabilities and misconfigurations as they appear.
With many solutions offering attack surface management capabilities, you may need help choosing the best solution for your organization’s needs. This guide outlines the main considerations of effective attack surface management software and the best solutions currently on the market.
Already know what attack surface management software is? Skip ahead to our list of the top 10 attack surface management solutions.
What is Attack Surface Management Software?
Attack surface management (ASM) software is a set of automated security tools that monitor and manage external digital assets that contain, transmit, or process sensitive data. ASM software identifies misconfigurations and vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit for malicious purposes that result in data breaches or other serious security incidents. The vulnerability severity measuring aspect of ASM functionality could also support penetration testing efforts and related risk management dependencies.
Who Uses Attack Surface Management Software?
Any organization that deals with sensitive data should monitor and manage its attack surface vigilantly. Data security standards are mandated by privacy and protection laws, such as the GDPR, CCPA, and SHIELD Act. Organizations that suffer data breaches face non-compliance with these legal requirements. Harsh financial penalties and reputational damage follow shortly after.
Small businesses and large multinational organizations from all industries leveraging service providers can benefit from attack surface management software. Fast remediation is essential in industries with large amounts of confidential data. These types of data could include personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, intellectual property, or other confidential information.
- The healthcare sector manages protected health information (PHI). This data is highly valued on the dark web, with cybercriminals purchasing it to commit identity theft and insurance fraud. The vulnerability scanning features of attack surface management tools could detect risks threatening the safety of PHI.
Read about recent data breaches in the healthcare industry >
- Financial institutions must protect sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and bank account details. Financial data is also very profitable in cybercrime. Cybercriminals are always scanning financial entities for potential vulnerabilities to exploit.
Read about recent data breaches in the financial industry >
- Government bodies hold in-depth PII on citizens, protected records, and other highly classified information. Threat actors with political motivations, such as ransomware gangs, are likely to target government organizations in cyber attacks.
Learn how to communicate ASM to the Board >
Important Features of Attack Surface Management Software
Modern attack surface management software must offer the following five features to perform its role effectively:
- Step 1: Asset Discovery
- Step 2: Inventory and classification
- Step 3: Risk scoring and security ratings
- Step 4: Continuous security monitoring
- Step 5: Malicious asset and incident monitoring
For a concise overview of the attack surface reduction process, watch the video below.
1. Asset Discovery
The initial stage of any reputable attack surface management solution is the discovery of all Internet-facing digital assets that contain or process your sensitive data such as PII, PHI, and trade secrets. The collection of these assets make up your digital footprint.
These assets can be owned or operated by your organization, as well as third parties such as cloud providers, IaaS and SaaS, business partners, suppliers, or external contractors. The presence of Shadow IT - digital devices that haven’t been approved by security teams, makes the inventory stage of asset management very difficult.
2. Inventory and Classification
Following asset discovery, the digital asset inventory and classification (IT asset inventory) process begins.
During this step, assets are labeled and dispatched based on:
- Technical characteristics and properties;
- Business criticality;
- Compliance requirements;
3. Security Ratings and Risk Scoring
Security ratings and risk scoring quickly identify the security issues affecting IT assets, like web applications, and reveal whether they’re exposing information that could result in data breaches, data leaks, or other cyber attacks - insights that could indicate potential attack targets that need to be hardened.
When scanning for data leaks, be sure to implement processes for reducing false positives.
4. Continuous Security Monitoring
Continuous security monitoring is one of the most important features of an attack management solution. Sophisticated cyber attack techniques emerge daily and zero-day vulnerabilities pose a bigger threat the longer they go undiscovered and unpatched. Effective attack surface management software leverages automation technology to monitor your assets for newly discovered security vulnerabilities, weaknesses, misconfiguration, and compliance issues.
5. Malicious Asset and Incident Monitoring
The modern threat landscape is infamous for malicious or rogue assets deployed by cybercriminals. These cyber attacks expose sensitive data, which remains visible on the Internet long after its initial compromise. Left exposed, this data could be further exploited in a future attack.
A complete attack surface management solution scans the surface, deep, and dark web for known third-party data breaches to identify any leaked employee credentials before they are used to gain unauthorized access to your organization.
If you need some ideas for reducing your attack surface, this list of attack surface reduction examples will help.
Top 10 Attack Surface Management Solutions in 2023
- Complete attack surface monitoring of an organization and its vendors
- Real-time security posture alerts and reporting
- Streamlined remediation workflows
UpGuard offers continuous attack surface monitoring of an organization and its vendors. Paired with data leak detection capabilities, the platform offers complete attack surface protection against misconfigurations and vulnerabilities that could facilitate data breaches.
- Continuous attack surface monitoring; groups risks into six categories: website risks, email security, network security, phishing & malware, reputation risk, and brand protection
- An attack surface management platform securing entry points for on-premise and external assets
- Integrations with many cloud-based apps for improving workflow efficiency through a secure API
- Instant security posture ratings through trusted commercial, open-source and proprietary methods
- Detect end-of-life Microsoft Windows servers
- Discover all web-facing assets (including IoTs) by specifying IP address ranges.
- Streamlined remediation workflows
- Cyber threat prioritization for efficient remediation management
- Continuous third-party attack surface monitoring; groups risks into six categories: website risks, email security, network security, phishing & malware, reputation risk, and brand protection
- Accelerated risk assessment process that automate security questionnaires.
- Vendor risk management tools for the mitigation of supply chain attacks
- Comprehensive vulnerability management for the entire IT ecosystem, including cloud services.
- Ability to track vendor remediation process
Who Uses UpGuard?
UpGuard is a cybersecurity platform that helps global organizations prevent data breaches, monitor third-party vendors, and improve their security posture. Using proprietary security ratings, world-class data leak detection capabilities, and powerful remediation workflows, we proactively identify security exposures for companies of all sizes.
Watch the video below for a quick tour of the UpGuard platform.
- Security ratings
- Attack surface analytics
- Continuous third-party monitoring
Bitsight allows organizations to detect vulnerabilities and misconfigurations affecting an organization and its vendors through its data and analytics platform.
- The solution’s dashboard provides context into an organization's attack surface and its vendors’ security postures
- The data and analytics platform continuously monitors for unknown vulnerabilities
Who Uses Bitsight?
Bitsight partners with 2,400+ companies worldwide.
- Third-party security ratings
- Cyber risk monitoring
- Dark web insights
Panorays evaluates vendors’ attack surfaces by analyzing externally available data.
- Continuously monitors third-party attack surface; groups security risks into three categories: Network & IT, Application, or Human
- Real-time alerting for any security changes/breaches
Who Uses Panorays?
Panorays partners with resellers, MSSPs, and technology to provide an automated third-party security platform that manages the inherent and residual risk, remediation, and ongoing monitoring.
- Third-party security ratings
- Cyber risk intelligence
- Hacker chatter monitoring
SecurityScorecard provides organizations insight into their vendors’ security postures through its cybersecurity ratings.
- Security ratings are based on ten groups of risk factors; network security, DNS health, patching cadence, endpoint security, IP reputation, application security, cubit score, and hacker chatter.
Who Uses SecurityScorecard?
Organizations use SecurityScorecard’s rating technology for self-monitoring, third-party risk management, board reporting, and cyber insurance underwriting.
- Continuous monitoring of inherent risk
- Risk scoring
- Real-time threat intelligence
CyberGRX allows organizations to manage third-party cyber risk and threats with data intelligence.
- CyberGRX provides visibility into an organization’s entire third-party cyber risk exposure by aggregating and analyzing data from multiple sources.
Who Uses CyberGRX?
CyberGRX provides security professionals, risk managers, and procurement managers with ongoing analysis of their vendor portfolio.
6. OneTrust Vendorpedia
- Third-party risk exchange
- Privacy, security and data governance platform
- Insights on vendors’ security controls, policies, and practices
Why OneTrust Vendorpedia?
OneTrust does not natively incorporate many of the critical breach vectors associated with an organization’s external-facing attack surfaces.
- Offers an AI engine via their Athena product enabling risk insights across privacy, security, and governance risks. Athena provides insights about a vendor’s internally managed security controls, policies, and practices.
Who Uses OneTrust Vendorpedia?
OneTrust Vendorpedia facilitates a community of shared vendor risk assessments from participating vendors for small and medium businesses and large enterprises.
- Continuous monitoring of an organization and its vendors
- IT profiling
- Security analytics
RiskRecon offers cybersecurity ratings and deep reporting capabilities to help businesses surface and manage cyber risks.
- The platform’s portal allows users to implement a baseline configuration to match risk structures being used to manage enterprise and third-party risk. Risks monitored to provide visibility into email security, application security, network filtering, and more.
Who Uses RiskRecon?
Organizations across a range of industries worldwide, including finance, insurance, healthcare, energy, and defense, use RiskRecon to minimize their risk.
8. Recorded Future
- Threat intelligence platform
- Delivers intelligence insights across six risk categories: brand, threat, third-party, SecOps, vulnerability, and geopolitical
- Evidence-based risk scoring
Why Recorded Future?
Recorded Future provides context surrounding vulnerabilities, enabling organizations to prioritize remediation.
- Recorded Future’s Vulnerability Intelligence module collects vital vulnerability data from a range of open, closed, and technical sources, assigning each vulnerability with a risk score in real time.
Who Uses Recorded Future?
Recorded Future provides machine-learning and human-based threat intelligence to its global customer base.
9. Digital Shadows
- Attack surface monitoring
- Vulnerability investigation
- Threat intelligence
Why Digital Shadows?
Digital Shadows Searchlight™ identifies vulnerabilities, allowing organizations to prioritize and patch their most critical identified risks.
- Digital Shadows’ SearchLight™ continuously identifies exploitable vulnerabilities across an organization’s public-facing infrastructure.
Who Uses Digital Shadows?
Digital Shadows provides security teams threat intelligence with focused digital risk insights.
- Asset discovery and monitoring
- Incident severity indicator
- CVE vulnerability detection
CybelAngel gains visibility into organizations’ attack surfaces.
- CybelAngel’s Asset Discovery & Monitoring solution identifies and helps secure vulnerable shadow assets.
Who Uses CybelAngel
CybelAngel provides its global enterprise clients with digital risk protection solutions.