Why You Need Both Attack Surface & Vulnerability Management

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Why You Need Both Attack Surface & Vulnerability Management

A Cybersecurity Ventures report from 2023 predicts that global spending on cybercrime will shoot up from $3 trillion in 2015 to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Thus, this shows the growing threat environment that companies must deal with. As such, businesses must implement robust security measures to safeguard their digital assets effectively against increasingly potent attacks. 

Attack surface management (ASM) and vulnerability management (VM) are critical components in every cybersecurity strategy. Nevertheless, these terms serve different yet complementary purposes in protecting a company’s defenses, even though they are used interchangeably. 

So, why is it crucial to integrate ASM and VM? Let’s look deeper into this topic to understand the importance of both these aspects for a resilient security posture.

What is Attack Surface Management (ASM) in Cybersecurity?

The process of regularly monitoring, recognizing, and addressing security risks on a business network is known as attack surface management in cybersecurity. The main goal of ASM is to minimize the attack surface so that hackers can’t easily get through network security.

For example, an ASM program scans for vulnerabilities like exposed services and outdated software. As such, updating software and configurations reduces potential entry points for hackers.

Here are some advantages of attack surface management: 

  • Enhanced Security Posture: ASM offers a full view of digital assets, helping security teams recognize weak spots and minimize attack risks.
  • Risk Reduction: ASM monitors and looks into vulnerabilities, reducing breach risks and securing sensitive data.
  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Acknowledging the attack surface helps prioritize important assets, optimizing security efforts.
  • Improved Visibility: ASM technologies make risk assessment and management easier by making all IT assets visible, even those that are concealed.

What is Vulnerability Management (VM)?

Vulnerability Management in cybersecurity is a continuous, proactive, and frequently automated activity that protects your computer systems, networks, and business applications from cyberattacks and data breaches.

For instance, a vulnerability management program routinely scans a company’s network for weak points, such as unpatched software or misconfigurations. It then automatically applies patches or recommends fixes to prevent potential exploits.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of the vulnerability management process:

  • Enhanced Security: Recognizes and prioritizes security flaws, enabling proactive protection of business data.
  • Immediate Vulnerability Fixes: Automates patching processes to quickly address new cybersecurity threats.
  • Operational Efficiency: Prioritizes critical security issues, simplifies remediation efforts, and saves resources.
  • Improved Visibility and Reporting: Offers actionable insights & tailored reports for better tracking & decision-making.

Key Differences Between Attack Surface & Vulnerability Management

Recognizing the differences between attack surface management and vulnerability management process is significant in order to execute an all-inclusive cybersecurity strategy. Further, they each address distinct aspects of threat mitigation, even though both aim to enhance security.

Now, let’s briefly explore the key differences between ASM and VM:

AspectAttack Surface ManagementVulnerability Management
ScopeIdentifies & manages all potential entry points for attackers, including hardware, software, and network assets.Focuses on specific weaknesses within existing infrastructure, applications, and systems.
ApproachProactive monitoring to anticipate potential attack avenues before exploitation.Reactive identification of vulnerabilities after discovery or exploitation.
StrategyReduces attack surface by minimizing potential entry points via techniques like asset discovery and access control.Reduces exposure to known vulnerabilities through prompt identification and patching.
FocusAcknowledges the entire attack surface, including external-facing assets, internal systems, cloud infrastructure, & third-party integrations.Primarily addresses vulnerabilities within existing infrastructure, applications, and systems.

Best Practices for Implementing Both Strategies

The first step in implementing attack surface management and vulnerability management is to fully comprehend and record all of the system’s resources, networks, and points of entry. After the surface is clear, give the following recommended practices top priority:

  • Continuous Asset Discovery:

Recognize and prioritize important assets, such as sensitive data and vital systems, to customize your security measures effectively. In addition, invest in strong security procedures to protect these assets from possible intrusions.

Conduct thorough evaluations to pinpoint weaknesses in your systems. This will help you address the weaknesses proactively to mitigate risks. Also, prioritize protecting digital defenses against potential vulnerabilities.

  • Continuous Monitoring:

Implement sophisticated monitoring systems to actively scan for suspicious activities or intrusions. This will, in turn, guarantee prompt detection and response. Moreover, continuous surveillance helps recognize and neutralize threats before they escalate.

  • Response Planning:

Develop comprehensive incident response protocols to address security breaches and mitigate their consequences quickly. As such, this will allow you to efficiently contain breaches and secure defenses against future attacks.

As a result, organizations can improve their security posture and successfully mitigate cyber risks by applying these best practices in both attack surface and vulnerability management. 

How Attack Surface and Vulnerability Management Work Together?

Organizations need both Attack Surface Management and Vulnerability Management in order to build a robust cybersecurity posture that is capable of managing & mitigating IT security risks. Here’s how they work together:

  • Holistic View with ASM

ASM provides a comprehensive overview of an organization’s internet-facing assets. As such, it plays a significant role in helping to manage cyber risks effectively. Thus, it can recognize every possible entry point that attackers might exploit, thereby ensuring nothing is overlooked.

  • Precision of Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability scanning is excellent at identifying and fixing internal cybersecurity problems, even if it could miss third-party vulnerabilities. Hence, this accuracy is essential for internal IT security and compliance needs.

With that being said, it is essential to check if your company must comply with regulatory standards. This is because of the fact that ASM, vulnerability management, and sometimes penetration testing are mandated by law.  For instance, according to a recent Gartner report, 60% of organizations will implement cybersecurity risk as a prime determinant for the purpose of executing third-party transactions by 2025. 

Stephane Nappo, Global Chief Information Security Officer, aptly stated, “Cybersecurity is much more than a matter of IT.” As such, these words underscore the significance of a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, combining both external as well as internal threat management.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: Together, ASM and VM are complementing procedures that offer a thorough security plan. While VM assists in locating and fixing vulnerabilities within the attack surface, ASM helps to reduce the attack surface.

How ResilientX can help with ASM and VM?

ResilientX is a Unified Exposure Management Platform that Unifies Attack Surface, Web, Network Security Testing, Cloud Security Automation and Third-Party Risk Management

Now, let’s explore why ResilientX is best from the rest:

  • ASM Features:
  • External IPs and Hosts: Identify and secure every external entry point.
  • Services and Ports: Discover and secure active services and open ports.
  • Potential Vulnerabilities: Proactively pinpoint and address security flaws.
  • VM Features:
  • Comprehensive Vulnerability Management: Identify, assess, and mitigate network vulnerabilities.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: Seamlessly integrate ASM insights, scan for vulnerabilities, and fortify defenses.
  • Protect Against Cyber Threats: Equip your business with resources to manage security challenges and safeguard against diverse threats.

Stay ahead of the curve with ResilientX – your partner in resilience, security, and peace of mind. 

Final Thoughts 

A strong cybersecurity posture requires the integration of Attack Surface Management and Vulnerability Management. They work together to provide comprehensive protection against internal and external threats. Organizations are guaranteed to be able to proactively manage risks and promptly address threats by using this all-encompassing approach. Additionally, implementing best practices like ongoing monitoring and efficient reaction planning reinforces defenses even more. Thus, investing in comprehensive security measures is imperative with the rising cost of cybercrime.

Check out a demo of ResilientX today to see how it can enhance your organization’s security strategy and safeguard your digital assets. Get started now!

Frequently Asked Question

1. What is Attack Surface Management?

Attack surface management involves identifying and understanding all points of potential vulnerability within a system or organization’s digital presence to mitigate risks effectively.

2. What is Vulnerability Management in cybersecurity?

Vulnerability management in cybersecurity is the practice of proactively identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating vulnerabilities in software, hardware, and network infrastructures to enhance overall security posture.

3. Why is Attack Surface Management Important?

Attack surface management is crucial because it helps organizations comprehensively assess and monitor potential entry points for cyber threats, allowing them to proactively defend against attacks and minimize security breaches.

4. Why is Vulnerability Management Necessary?

Vulnerability management is essential as it enables organizations to regularly scan and address weaknesses in their systems, reducing the likelihood of exploitation by malicious actors and maintaining the integrity of sensitive data.

5. How Do Attack Surface and Vulnerability Management Differ?

Attack surface management focuses on understanding the scope of potential attack vectors, while vulnerability management concentrates on identifying and addressing specific weaknesses within those vectors, collectively providing a robust defense strategy against cyber threats.

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