There’s one major between organizations that fall victim to a data breach and those that don’t - attack surface awareness. Even between those who have implemented an attack surface management solution and those who haven’t, the more successful the cybersecurity programs more likely to defend against a greater scope of cyber threats are those with greater attack surface visibility.

If you’re in the market for a cyber attack surface visibility tool, this post outlines the x top features and capabilities that will maximize the returns of your new cyber investment.

Learn how UpGuard streamlines attack surface management >

4 Top Features of the Best Attack Surface Visibility Software in 2024

The following set of features will help you achieve the most comprehensive attack surface coverage, addressing all possible data breach entry points.

1. Internal and External Attack Surface Coverage

Internal and external IT assets are prone to security vulnerabilities. A visibility tool that only supports external attack surface management will overlook security risks perforating your internal IT infrastructure, including cloud-based digital assets and on-premise assets.

Conventional attack surface management tools only focus on discovering cyber risk impacting external-facing assets - a threat intelligence discipline known as External Asset Attack Surface Management (EAASM). However, this approach fails to consider attack vectors stemming from internal digital attack surfaces, which there are plenty of.

For the best data breach protection, security teams must broaden their attack vector visibility to cover the entirety of an organization’s attack surface - internal and external. This approach is also known as Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management (CAASM), and it involves the continuous monitoring of internal and external endpoints and ecosystems, including:

  • APIs and tool integrations
  • Firewalls
  • Web applications
  • IoT devices
  • Internet-facing assets
  • SaaS products
  • Mobile apps
  • Access controls
  • Service providers
  • Software misconfiguration
  • IP addresses
  • Domains and Subdomains (including AWS S3 services)

It’s important to understand that comprehensive attack vector visibility doesn't negate the need for penetration tests. Even with the best vulnerability scanning solutions in place, unpredictable exposures, even unbeknownst to software providers, could still happen in digital apps (events known as zero days). Penetration tests are an invaluable aid to incident response teams as they stress test your cyber defenses from the fresh perspective of a threat actor.

Pen Tests reveal overlooked exposures, increasing your risk of suffering dangerous cyberattacks, such as malware and ransomware attacks.

Pen tests could also reveal your organization’s susceptibility to falling victim to social engineering and phishing attacks.

Learn how to design a simulated phishing test with ChatGPT >

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s attack surface management platform continuously monitors for security risks and potential attack vectors mapping from internal and external assets. By including risk assessment and remediation workflows, detected risks can instantly be pushed through vulnerability management lifecycles to mitigate threats impacting security posture health rapidly.

Watch this video for an overview of UpGuard’s Attack Surface Management (ASM) features.

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2. Dark Web Monitoring

Comprehensive attack surface visibility is more than just being aware of internal and external IT assets. One of the leading causes of data breaches is compromised credentials - usernames and passwords stolen in previous breaches and dumped on the dark web.

Your attack surface visibility tool should extend beyond the boundaries of the surface web to include internet regions known for hosting compromised credentials - dark web forums and marketplaces. This practice, known as data leak detection, continuously scans the dark web and even the surface web for listings matching predetermined keywords mapping internal credentials.

Learn about UpGuard’s data leak detection features >

When used in conjunction with other attack surface management features, data leak detection offers the most comprehensive protection against data breaches.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s data leak detection engine can help you quickly discover and shut down compromised credentials dumped on the dark web before they’re exploited by hackers. To help you have the greatest confidence in the validity of each detected leak, UpGuard security experts manually evaluate each detected leak to contextualize its occurrence, removing the risk of false positives.

Watch this video for a snapshot of UpGuard’s data leak detection features.

See UpGuard’s data leak detection tool in action >

3. Asset Inventory Tracking

Having complete visibility of internal and external attack surfaces sets the foundation for comprehensive asset inventory tracking. Asset discovery is a complicated and frustrating process because an organization's attack surface increases as new security tools, digital solutions, and vendor relationships are established.

The larger your attack surface, the more options hackers and cybercriminals have to gain access to your network.

To address the complication of attack surface expansion, an ideal visibility tool should offer real-time monitoring, preferably with features like IP address range monitoring to mitigate the threat of unknown assets and shadow IT devices.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s continuous attack surface monitoring engine automatically detects new domain mapping to your organization’s attack surface, helping you stay on top of your expanding attack surface.

By allowing users to specify IP monitoring ranges, UpGuard instantly acknowledged devices connected within these ranges as soon as they become active, mitigating unknown assets and shadow IT risks.

IP range specificaion for asset detection on the UpGuard platform.
IP range specificaion for asset detection on the UpGuard platform.

Take a self-guided tour of the UpGuard platform >

4. Continuous Monitoring

Continuous attack surface monitoring doesn’t just keep you aware of your growing asset inventory. This effort allows you to confirm your cyber risk management efforts to the evolving risk landscape.

To bridge the gap between digital asset awareness and emerging risk awareness, an attack surface visibility tool must include a cyber risk scoring mechanism formally known as security ratings.

Security ratings are objective, unbiased quantification of an organization’s security posture. Calculated through a consideration of multiple attack vector categories, security rating represents an organization’s posture through a score ranging from 0-950

The attack vector categories feeding UpGuard’s security ratings.
The attack vector categories feeding UpGuard’s security ratings.

Learn more about UpGuard’s security ratings >

When integrated with attack surface mounting, security ratings automate the process of security risk detection.

To illustrate this, consider the most common approach for discovering internal and external security risks - risk assessments.

When used alone, risk assessments fail to account for emerging cyber risks occurring between assessment schedules.

Point-in-time assessments along can't account for emerging risks between assessments.
Point-in-time assessments alone can't account for emerging risks between assessments.

However, when combined with security ratings, emerging risks between risk assessments are detected through declinations in an organization’s security posture. These events then trigger further and more detailed investigations through security questionnaires or impromptu risk assessments.

Combining point-in-time assessments and security ratings provides real-time attack surface awareness.
Combining point-in-time assessments and security ratings provides real-time attack surface awareness.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s security rating feature helps organizations track emerging risks impacting security postures, even between assessment schedules. By leveraging its security ratings engine in its risk remediation workflow, UpGuard allows users to gauge the potential impact of selected remediation tasks, helping security teams prioritize remediations with the most significant positive impact.

UpGuard projects the impact of selected remediation tasks.
UpGuard projects the impact of selected remediation tasks.

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