The job of cybersecurity within the company is never complete. Even protecting all the most valuable assets with the security points, having layers that consist of multiple protective tools, and employing teams that consist of the most talented individuals in the field don’t make for perfect security.
Slip-ups happen during long hours at the desk and dealing with heavy workloads. Firewalls can go down in the middle of the night — exposing major weaknesses for threat actors to exploit.
An unsuspected employee might fall for the social engineering attack and allow access to online criminals (just like in the case of Twilio, Cisco, GoDaddy, and countless others). New hacking methods that catch security off guard can compromise the entire network.
Businesses grow, and when they do, they add even more software to their already complex infrastructures.
Security has to keep up with both the dynamic nature of the day-to-day happenings in the company and be prepared to protect it as it scales.
How can you manage the chaos and prevent breaches at the same time?
To keep up with the constant changes, organizations use an AI-powered program called Threat Exposure Management.
Here, we discuss the steps it follows to maintain cybersecurity hygiene.
1 Scoping the Exposure
The primary phase of a program is to determine the exposure of the most valuable assets of the company.
To start with, businesses have to provide information on which data and features within the architecture are high-risk and sensitive.
That is — what is critical for the company to function without interrupting work and where is the private data that has to be protected against breaches?
Security then maps the external attack surface (anything that can be accessed on the internet) and concludes as to the risks that are likely to lead to successful hacking attempts on the network.
2 Discovering Vulnerabilities
After security collects the data on what requires special attention and protection for the safe and continual work of the company, it’s necessary to investigate whether there are flaws that need patching up.
To discover such weaknesses, all the assets are mapped. This includes the entire infrastructure and private data that’s circling within it, applications, and more.
After the mapping, everything is analyzed to discover whether the existing tools and software have any misconfigurations or potentially high-risk vulnerabilities.
This step is repeated in each and every Threat and Exposure Management cycle to be in tune with the latest updates of the MITRE ATT&CK Framework.
The MITRE is a comprehensive library of the latest methods and techniques which have led to successful exploits and hacking threats.
3 Prioritizing Risks
Most companies will have vulnerabilities, but not all flaws have the potential to turn into major incidents such as data leaks or ransomware.
Therefore, ranking the risks from low to high is important to separate critical flaws that require patching up ASAP. Low-risk issues can be taken care of later as they don’t pose an immediate threat. Known flaws are mitigated automatically.
Information still aids security analysis to apply top to bottom approach and mitigate advanced threats that represent a major risk for the company.
Context matters as well. What may be the major weakness for the security of one organization might not pose a great threat to another. All businesses have unique infrastructure as well as security measures that they’ve applied to protect them.
Threat Exposure Management utilizes machine learning to continually learn about the company and its most important assets as well as determine if there is a shift in the posture that might put them at risk.
4 Validation of Security
To ensure that all the security tools are working properly, it’s necessary to put them to the test with tools such as Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS).
Capabilities of the BAS tool include launching simulated attacks in a safe environment. The results of the testing shed light on the vulnerabilities that the tool has been able to exploit.
Also, it pinpoints which protective software is not working properly and needs to be reconfigured.
What exactly is evaluated?
In previous steps, the tools have identified certain parts of the internal and external attack surface that are exposed to hackers.
The critical points are put to the test for security to confirm where there’s a need for further action — such as additional employee training or adding new tools.
What’s more, versatile tools such as BAS are used to determine how far can the threat actor laterally move once it is in the organization.
5 Mobilization of Threats
The final step refers to taking necessary measures that improve and strengthen security.
The patching up of flaws and configurations of tools is performed manually by the IT team.
They make informed decisions based on the data that has been collected in the four steps before the mobilization.
After the issues are taken care of and the flaws are patched, the entire process repeats from step one — scoping.
Repetition is Key
In a nutshell, Threat Exposure Management is an automated program that improves security with continual scoping, discovery, prioritization, validation, and mobilization.
With every cycle, it knows more about the attack surface and security posture of an organization.
Automated discovery and remediation run in the background at all times. This enables IT teams to detect and mitigate any high-risk issues in time — before they allow expensive and time-consuming breaches within the company.
The program is also of great aid for security teams because it continually diagnoses the attack surface. With it, it points to the exact issue and helps them prioritize the tasks that can save the company from major issues.
Considering that the attack surface can change in minutes and with it leave a gaping wound in the security (if unpatched), continual management is the key to keeping a security posture straight.