Threat Exposure Management: A Shift in Strategy

This is the third blog in a five-part series from TAG. Click here for the first blog, Introduction to Threat Exposure Management and its Outcomes. The second blog Threat Exposure Management: Continuous Monitoring and On-Going Assessment can be found here. 


In the ever-changing realm of cybersecurity, the initial thrill of successfully mitigating a breach attack was often short-lived. We would repair the breaches and celebrate, but these were temporary victories in an ongoing battle against evolving threats. Our approach resembled a patchwork, with each fix being a stopgap against the relentless emergence of new exploitable weaknesses. Attack Surface Management (ASM) broadened our perspective, allowing us to identify exposed vulnerabilities akin to hazards in a landscape. However, ASM was like a static map, unable to track the ever-shifting tactics of modern cyber-attacks. We were merely observers, bracing for the next unpredictable challenge.

The introduction of threat exposure management signifies a significant shift in strategy. Exposure management isn’t just a temporary solution but a comprehensive program to prepare defense systems for the next attack and improve cyber resilience. Its focus was not on merely reacting to threats but on proactively understanding and predicting the evolving cyber landscape. Leading the way is Cymulate and their exposure management platform. This blog explores the transition from running BAS and ASM in silos to a threat exposure management program that integrates exposure discovery with exposure validation. 


Establishing a Strong Foundation 

The first step is a thorough examination of the digital infrastructure. It scrutinizes every element, from regular network devices to unauthorized cloud services. This process resembles creating a detailed blueprint of our entire digital environment, identifying potential weak spots for cyber threats. 

ASM provides vigilant monitoring system in an exposure management program to identify new asset, changes to the existing attack surface, and understand their gaps. Exposure management combines traditional vulnerability scanning with the new ASM functionality to create a single inventory of assets, vulnerabilities, poor configurations and other exposures. 

Various threat intelligence sources are also integrated, gathering insights from the cyber world, and monitoring unusual activities within our systems. This intelligence network becomes a guide, leading to detection and proactive response to potential cyberattacks. 

Before jumping to remediation and mitigation, threat exposure management includes a validation step where offensive testing tools like BAS play a crucial role to: 

  • Validate controls and existing defenses that mitigate the threat
  • Validate the threat against the IT stack to understand potential impact
  • Validate attack paths to fully understand how the exposure could be exploited

With full visibility to the attack surface and validation of the exposures, threat exposure management programs can then focus remediation and mitigation on the biggest risks and with action that has the biggest reduction on risk.


Constructing The Fortress: The Threat Exposure Management Transition 

Transitioning from BAS and ASM to exposure management is a complex, multi-faceted process that requires a blend of technical acumen and strategic foresight. Each demands meticulous attention and expertise. The journey begins with a comprehensive assessment of the BAS and ASM capabilities. This involves delving deep into the outcomes of previous simulations and surface management strategies and dissecting them to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The goal is not just to pinpoint what’s lacking but also to understand the dynamics of how these tools interact with our cybersecurity landscape. A critical part of this phase is conducting a gap analysis. This isn’t just a superficial review; it requires a detailed examination of our security posture to uncover areas where BAS and ASM are not keeping pace with the evolving cyber threats. 

Once there is a clear understanding of the current state, the focus shifts to developing a robust exposure management strategy. This strategy formation is a meticulous process of defining precise objectives aligned with broader cybersecurity goals. It’s not just about selecting the right tools; it’s about crafting policies and procedures that seamlessly integrate exposure management into our existing cybersecurity framework. This step is crucial as it sets the foundation for approaching continuous monitoring, threat intelligence, and vulnerability management in an exposure-centric environment. 

The next phase revolves around infrastructure and resource planning. This is the nitty-gritty of determining the resources needed for implementing threat exposure management. It involves decisions about staffing, technology investments, and budget allocations. This phase demands a keen eye for detail as we select and acquire technology solutions that support exposure management functionalities and synergize with existing systems. 

Integrating BAS and ASM systems into an exposure management process is the most technically challenging part of the transition. It requires a strategic approach to ensure that exposure management tools can effectively leverage data and insights from existing systems. This step involves meticulous planning and precise execution to create a cohesive and interoperative security environment. 

Training and empowering our staff is critical to the success of threat exposure management. This phase goes beyond basic training; it involves in-depth sessions designed to equip teams with the skills to utilize exposure management tools effectively and interpret the insights they provide. This is where operations are transformed from passive technology users to proactive participants in our cybersecurity strategy. 

Pilot testing the exposure management implementation is where theory meets practice. Start small, applying exposure management in a controlled environment, carefully observing its effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments. The transition to threat exposure management is not a one-time event but an iterative process. Performance is continuously monitored, learning and adapting as the implementation is gradually expanded. 

The most ongoing aspect of this transition is the continuous monitoring and analysis. Utilizing exposure management tools, keep a vigilant eye on our organization’s digital landscape. This isn’t just about watching for threats; it’s about actively analyzing the data collected and turning information into actionable insights. Finally, establishing a feedback loop and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is essential for keeping our threat exposure management strategy relevant and effective. As the digital landscape evolves, so must our approach to managing and mitigating cyber threats. 

In essence, transitioning to threat exposure management is a journey that intertwines technical expertise with strategic planning. It requires a deep understanding of both the tools at our disposal and the ever-changing nature of cyber threats. By meticulously executing each step, we can effectively move from traditional BAS and ASM methodologies to a dynamic and proactive framework for threat exposure management, fortifying our cybersecurity defenses for the challenges ahead. 


Conclusion: A Call to Action 

We now face a choice: continue with temporary fixes or adopt threat exposure management for a more robust cybersecurity strategy. The time for makeshift solutions is over; the threat exposure management system is our path forward. We invite our fellow cybersecurity professionals to join us in this journey. With threat exposure management, we can navigate the unpredictable terrain of cyber threats and secure our digital future. This is just the beginning of the journey. We encourage the sharing of experiences and the cultivation of a community of security experts. Together, we can explore new frontiers in cybersecurity and ensure a safer digital environment for all. Until our next update, we wish you success and progress in your cybersecurity endeavors. 


About Tag  

TAG is a trusted next generation research and advisory company that utilizes an AI-powered SaaS platform to deliver on-demand insights, guidance, and recommendations to enterprise teams, government agencies, and commercial vendors in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and climate science/sustainability. 


To learn more about threat exposure management, read the full Threat Exposure Management eBook written by TAG’s senior Analysts.

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