With cybercriminals continuously improving their breach tactics, the tech industry can no longer solely rely on point-in-time cyber resilience evaluations like penetration testing. Point-in-time assessments now must be combined with continuous attack surface management for the most comprehensive awareness of data breach risks.
If you’re in the tech industry and in the market for an attack surface monitoring product, this post outlines the key features to look for to get the highest ROI from your ASM tool.
4 Must-Have Features in a Tech Company Attack Surface Management Tool in 2023
To address increasing attack vectors caused by digital transformation, many attack surface management solutions have been introduced to the cybersecurity market. Not all live up to their cyber attack resilience claim, which is often due to an absence of a key set of features critical for effective attack surface management.
To give your technology company the best chances of defending against evolving cyber threats and data breach tactics, make sure your chosen tech ASM tool includes the following set of features as a minimum.
1. Digital Asset Discovery
Keeping an up-to-date digital asset inventory isn't easy, especially when your attack surface is constantly expanding. The rate of attack surface expansion for tech companies is especially high, with new digital products and accompanying domains continuously being shipped. No matter how hardened you think, your internet-facing digital products are, if a hacker is determined enough, they will manipulate it into an attack vector.
Because every asset increases your digital risk, failure to acknowledge even a single IT asset in your ecosystem’s inventory could result in a large-scale data breach.
A tech company’s attack surface is the sum of all the potential vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit.
Some examples of digital assets contributing to a tech company’s attack surface include:
- Web Applications: Web pages, especially those with login portals, are vulnerable to a vast range of cyberattacks, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
- APIs: If unsecured, APIs could facilitate access to backend databases without requiring a username or password. The Optus data breach impacting 9.8 million customers was facilitated by an unsecured API.
- Cloud Storage and Services: Tech companies rely heavily on SaaS products and cloud storage solutions. Security misconfigurations in any of these products could facilitate unauthorized access by threat actors.
- Databases: Both SQL and NoSQL databases storing sensitive data are very likely cyber attack targets.
- Network Infrastructure: Infrastructures border-sensitive resources, making them one the first targets in a data breach campaign.
- Email Systems: Email is the most popular medium for phishing attacks and the entry point for most dangerous cyberattacks, including malware installation and ransomware attacks.
- Source Code Repositories: Once inside a network, hackers seek out an organization’s most sensitive resources. Few resources are as sensitive (and valuable) for a tech company as source codes. Stolen source codes are very valuable bargaining chips in ransomware attacks. Despite strong warnings from the FBI never to comply with ransom demands, tech companies are more likely to settle a ransom payment to prevent their source codes from being published on the dark web.
Learn how to defend against ransomware attacks >
- Employee Devices: Endpoints such as laptops and mobile are potential footholds in your private network. The explosion of the remote work revolution has resulted in a significant increase in endpoint security risks.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Devices: Tech companies often pride themselves in having a very innovative work culture powered by cutting-edge technology, like IoT devices. If not configured properly, IoT devices could be recruited into botnets to launch a type of devastating service-disrupting cyber attack known as a DDoS attack.
- Virtualization and Containerization Platforms: Deployment technologies like Docker and Kubernetes are also prone to IT security risks like misconfigurations. If exploited, these attack surface regions could facilitate privilege escalation, leading to source code compromise.
- Software Development Tools: IDEs and CI/CD environments are complex attack surface regions that could facilitate source code access if third-party services are compromised.
- Authentication Systems: Ironically, user authentication technologies like Single-Sign (SSO) and even Multi-Factor Authentication could be manipulated to achieve unauthorized network access.
- Domains: Every new domain created for a tech app expands your attack surface with new cyber risk and exploitation options.
- Shadow IT: Includes devices connected to your network without explicit approval from security teams. These devices are likely riddled with security risks because they’re not managed by application security programs.
- Third-Party Vendors - Service providers are commonly overlooked in risk management efforts, but if they have a poor security posture, they could become pathways to your sensitive resources if they’re targeted in a supply chain attack.
An ideal ASM product should be capable of identifying as many of these digital assets in your network as possible.
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard’s attack surface management solution can quickly identify all of the digital internet-facing assets within your network and its subsidiaries. To address the pain point of maintaining an up-to-date asset inventory in an expanding attack surface context, UpGuard allows you to specify the IP address range of your asset inventory. Whenever new assets are connected within this range, they automatically become acknowledged and monitored, reducing the likelihood of security gaps caused by unknown assets from Shadow IT.
2. Attack Surface Reduction
The primary objective should be to reduce your organization’s attack surface. The more compressed your tech attack surface is, the fewer exploitation options cybercriminals have.
After inventorizing all of your assets, your security teams will have a sense of your cyber risk baseline. Should this baseline exceed your risk appetite, the most efficient security control to implement is to remove all unnecessarily exposed assets from your network, a process known as attack surface reduction.
In the technology industry, the two most common candidates for attack surface reduction in the technology industry are:
- Unmaintained web pages - Web pages no longer receiving security updates.
- End-of-life web server software - Web server software that will no longer be updated with new security patches or bug fixes.
An ideal ASM tool can discover such critical attack surface reduction candidates and include workflows for removing them from your threat landscape.
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard’s attack surface management tool instantly identifies reduction opportunities for critical attack vectors commonly facilitating breaches in the tech industry, such as unmaintained web pages and end-of-life web server software.
Watch the video below to learn how easy attack surface reduction is with UpGuard.
3. Continuous Monitoring
Attack surface management is an ongoing effort. Your ASM tool must be capable of meaning the health of your security posture in real-time. Cybersecurity is achieved through a “Security Ratings” security tool .
Security ratings are unbiased quantifications of an organization’s security posture based on a score ranging from 0-950, calculated by considering a set of commonly exploited attack vectors. They help security teams instantly understand the level of cyber threat resilience internally and for each of their third-party vendor.
Because of the speed with which cyber threat resilience can be communicated with security ratings, according to Gartner, this feature will be as ubiquitous as credit scores when evaluating the cybersecurity health of an organization.
Cybersecurity ratings will become as important as credit ratings when assessing the risk of existing and new business relationships …these services will become a precondition for business relationships and part of the standard of due care for providers and procurers of services. Additionally, the services will have expanded their scope to assess other areas, such as cyber insurance, due diligence for M&A, and even as a raw metric for internal security programs.
A security rating feature opens up advanced risk management optimization options, like the prioritization of critical security vulnerabilities and remediation impact tracking/.
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard’s attack surface management product includes a security rating feature producing accurate security posture insights based on an evaluation of six categories of risk: 1) website security, 2) network security, 3) email security, 4) phishing & malware risk, 5) brand & reputation risk, and 6) questionnaire risks.
UpGuard’s security rating feature also measures vendor security postures to simplify external attack surface management and projected security posture impacts for selected risks, helping you prioritize remediation tasks with the greatest benefits.
4. Integration with other Risk Management Processes
Attack surface management isn’t a standalone cybersecurity program. Its workflows naturally seep into other vulnerability management strategies, supporting the mitigation of discovered risks in related risk management disciplines.
This harmonious relationship is most apparent in the Vendor Risk Management lifecycle.
The supporting roles of attack surface management in each stage of the VRM lifecycle are as follows:
- Due Diligence: Security ratings offer a window into the cybersecurity standards of a prospective vendor through a passive assessment of their public digital asset security configurations. This capability supports the establishment of secure mergers that don’t exceed your risk appetite.
- Risk Assessments: An ASM product evaluates responses and provides a criticality rating for all their associated security risks.
- Remediation Planning: An ASM product supports efficient remediation planning by projecting potential security posture improvements for selected risks.
- Ongoing Monitoring: An ASM product continuously monitors the security postures of all vendors to provide real-time awareness of third-party data breach susceptibility.
- Threat Discovery: Thanks to the efforts of an ASM product, security teams are instantly notified of new security risk exposures in the vendor network and internally, providing comprehensive threat intelligence.
Ideally, to support the principle ASM objective of keeping the attack surface minimal, all of these associated processes should be included in a single product rather than integrating multiple separate solutions.
How UpGuard Can Help
The UpGuard platform combines the complete scope of risk management workflows in a single intuitive product. From internal cyber risk management to Vendor Risk Management, it can all be done on the UpGuard platform with capabilities like
- Attack surface management,
- Risk Assessment management,
- Remediation management,
- Data leak detection,
- Regulatory compliance tracking.
Watch the video below for an overview of the UpGuard platform.