Attack surface management (ASM) is becoming a vital tool for any organization that utilizes digital assets or is undergoing digital transformation. Whether it’s web applications, IoT devices, or endpoint entry points, every digital asset escalates an attack surface in complexity and size. This necessitates comprehensive attack surface management tools to safeguard IT assets and external assets across a threat landscape and as a critical component of proactive security management against new vulnerabilities.

In this blog, we’ll explore the critical features that define an effective attack surface management tool. Choosing a security tool that aligns with the intricate security demands of modern organizations is crucial. Cybersecurity measures like firewalls, security controls, supply chain resilience, and penetration testing should work in tandem with an attack surface management tool to secure a digital attack surface.

Explore UpGuard’s external attack surface management tool, BreachSight, here >

Top 5 Critical Features of Attack Surface Management Tools

The efficacy of an attack surface management solution is largely determined by its features, integration, and capabilities. The right ASM tool for an organization will help guide it toward a secure and resilient cybersecurity posture. Organizations should prioritize the following five critical features that form the backbone of a proficient attack surface management tool to identify that ASM tool. Collectively, they provide organizations with the necessary functionality to identify, assess, and mitigate digital threats in a proactive and positive manner.

1. Automated, Continuous Asset Discovery and Mapping

Automated and continuous discovery and mapping of digital assets is a fundamental feature of any ASM tool. This feature ensures that every component of an organization's IT infrastructure, such as servers, workstations, cloud instances, and IoT devices, is consistently monitored and cataloged.

Automation reduces human errors and oversights, while the continuous nature of this feature addresses the dynamic changes in the digital environment. A reliable ASM tool will detect new assets as they are added, track changes to existing ones, and identify when assets become redundant or are decommissioned—keeping an asset inventory up to date and fully protected against shadow IT and hackers.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard BreachSight features continuous security monitoring that provides real-time information about misconfiguration, helping your organization understand your comprehensive risk profile. Additional features include:

  • Incident and news feed: View all of the recent security incidents or just those related to you and your vendors, or even view news and incidents separately.
  • Risk Profile: Instantly understand your risk profile and drill down into individual risks shared across your infrastructure.
  • Domains & IPs: View the domains and IPs that belong to your organization and their corresponding cyber risks.
  • Asset Portfolios: Organize your domains and IP addresses into separate lists by different use cases. Once set up, you can control user access for each portfolio.

2. Advanced Vulnerability Detection and Assessment

An excellent ASM tool should excel in threat detection and evaluating vulnerabilities using advanced techniques. This means going beyond standard vulnerability databases and including advanced scanning for misconfigurations, exposed databases, and unprotected sensitive data. This risk management process should also utilize extensive risk assessments to identify malware, ransomware, unknown assets, or other potential vulnerabilities.

The tool should use heuristic and behavioral analysis to identify potential zero-day vulnerabilities and emerging cyber threats before an outside party can take advantage of them. Vulnerability scanning should not be static but adapt as new threats are discovered and the organization's infrastructure evolves or the attack surface changes, providing ongoing protection throughout an organization’s lifetime.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard BreachSight specializes in attack surface reduction. Reduce your organization’s attack surface by discovering exploitable vulnerabilities and permutations of your domains at risk of typosquatting with our extensive vulnerability management tools.

  • Vulnerabilities: Discover vulnerabilities across your attack vectors that may be exploitable in the software running on your websites.
  • Typosquatting: Prevent bait and switching, domain parking, imitators, phishing, and other typosquatting-related cyberattacks.

3. Prioritization and Risk Scoring Mechanisms

To ensure comprehensive security across an enterprise, it is crucial for an ASM tool to have advanced prioritization and risk-scoring features. These functionalities enable security teams to identify and address the most critical vulnerabilities that pose the highest risk to the organization.

The prioritization process should consider various factors, such as the asset's importance, the vulnerability's security risks, the likelihood of an exploit, and the potential impact on the business. Focusing on the most significant risks first allows resources to be allocated effectively and efficiently.

How UpGuard Can Help

Security ratings are at the forefront of UpGuard BreachSight. These ratings are a data-driven, objective, and dynamic measurement of an organization’s security ecosystem. Our security rating process is generated by analyzing trusted commercial, open-source, and proprietary threat intelligence feeds and non-intrusive data collection methods. Additional features include:

  • Your Security Rating: Updated multiple times a day, based on the analysis of each of your underlying domains and their security ratings
  • Domain Security Ratings: Explore the security posture of individual domains and drill into issues.

4. Real-Time Alerts and Notifications

Attack surface monitoring and quick action are crucial for ASM tools. To ensure immediate response to potential threats, ASM tools must have real-time alerts and notifications.

These alerts should provide detailed information about the nature of the threat. These internal or internet-facing assets may be affected, and recommended mitigation actions, like patching or updated configurations, may be taken. Customization options are also important, enabling organizations to set alert thresholds and parameters according to their risk appetite and security policies.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard BreachSight provides continuous security monitoring and custom notifications for incidents across your organization. Easily filter incidents by company, time, threat actor, threat actor location, or the data type exposed.

  • Custom notifications: UpGuard has a host of default notifications, allowing you to create and manage custom notifications. These can be used for in-app and email alerts or webhook triggers.

5. Customizable Reporting and Analytics

Finally, an ASM tool must provide comprehensive reporting and analytics features. Customizable reports are essential for different organizational stakeholders, ranging from technical teams requiring detailed analysis to executives needing high-level summaries.

The analytics should offer insights into trends, monitor the effectiveness of security measures over time, and assist in making strategic decisions. This functionality transforms raw data into actionable intelligence, constantly empowering companies to enhance their security posture.

How UpGuard Can Help

Reporting and dashboards are built right into the functionality of UpGuard BreachSight, helping your organization gain visibility into the security posture of your organization and third-party vendors. Our Reports Library makes accessing tailor-made reports for different providers in one centralized location easier and faster.

  • Executive Reporting: Use our prebuilt executive reporting suite to get insights inside the platform.
  • Custom Report Templates: Ensure consistency and standardization of your reports by creating and saving custom report templates.

Manage Your External Attack Surface with UpGuard

UpGuard BreachSight is the premier external attack surface management tool (EASM), integrating all of the critical features listed above in a user-friendly platform that enhances your organization’s security posture.

BreachSight helps you understand the risks impacting your external security posture and ensures your assets are constantly monitored and protected. View your organization’s cybersecurity at a glance and communicate internally about risks, vulnerabilities, or current security incidents. Other features include:

  • Data Leak Detection: Protect your brand, intellectual property, and customer data with timely detection of data leaks and avoid data breaches
  • Continuous Monitoring: Get real-time information and manage exposures, including domains, IPs, and employee credentials
  • Attack Surface Reduction: Reduce your attack surface by discovering exploitable vulnerabilities and domains at risk of typosquatting
  • Shared Security Profile: Eliminate having to answer security questionnaires by creating an UpGuard Shared Profile
  • Workflows and Waivers: Simplify and accelerate how you remediate issues, waive risks, and respond to security queries
  • Reporting and Insights: Access tailor-made reports for different stakeholders and view information about your external attack surface

Ready to see
UpGuard in action?