The modern attack surface is ever-expanding. Organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the incredible scale of changes in their IT environment, while the expansion of cloud adoption has enabled businesses to move faster than ever before. However, this also implies that the attack surface is available to attackers and cybercriminals. For global organizations, there is a continuous risk of shadow IT introduction.
Discovering how to adapt to evolving business needs, complex technology landscapes and expanding attack surfaces is extremely important in the current scenario. This blog explores Gartner’s Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) process and how it can be used to address these challenges.
How Continuous Threat Exposure Management Can Help Improve Cyber Resilience
A CTEM program enables organizations to continually monitor, assess and mitigate security risks through improvement plans and actionable security posture remediation. According to the program, the five steps that an organization can execute to adopt this framework are:
Importance Of Continuous Attack Surface Management
Attack surface management (ASM) is an important risk reduction process and can help facilitate scoping, discovery and prioritization in CTEM. Let’s delve into how ASM supports these initial phases.
An organization can decide what the scope of its attack surface is. For instance, an organization can limit the scope by geographical focus or include dark web exposures as an add-on.
In this step, organizations should continuously discover assets that belong to the organization. Besides this, they need to identify vulnerabilities that impact these assets or any breaches that are already materialized on the dark web.
Assessing the likelihood of exploitation for each exposure. Organizations can leverage technology and human expertise to verify vulnerabilities and provide contextual information for effective remediation prioritization.
While ASM is an approach CISOs can introduce by integrating already available initiatives and solutions within their security operations, there are specialized solutions available in the market that can seamlessly help with scoping, discovery and prioritization.
Importance Of Continuous Security Validation
Security validation of prioritized exposures is a critical step to achieving cyber resilience. CISOs can rely on internal penetration testing and vulnerability management teams to help them validate the discovered vulnerabilities.
The quality of validation of these threats is extremely important as it ensures the focus remains on the most critical risks and there is enough evidence to support accurate remediation recommendations. In order to scale internal security validation initiatives, CISOs can choose one or more solutions available in the market.
These solutions may include:
1. Automated penetration testing.
2. Penetration testing as a service.
3. Red teaming as service.
4. Breach attack simulations.
It is important to note that all of the above capabilities should be deployed with a focus on production assets. This is why a fine balance between the use of automation and human expertise is crucial to reduce the risk of a self-inflicted incident or disruption.
Importance Of Mobilization To Achieve Sustainable Cyber Resilience
One of the crucial aspects of effective mobilization in the CTEM program is to prioritize accurate recommendations. This involves obtaining high-quality security testing results that offer precise and actionable recommendations.
Organizations should strive for reliable insights that guide them toward effective risk reduction. By utilizing comprehensive security testing methodologies, thorough assessments can identify vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and potential exposures with precision. The resulting recommendations should be specific, practical and tailored to the organization’s unique environment. This ensures that remediation efforts are focused and impactful, ultimately strengthening the overall security posture.
Fostering collaboration with security testing vendors is vital during the mobilization stage. Organizations should diligently select vendors that offer comprehensive support and assistance throughout the remediation process. This collaborative approach ensures the effective implementation of recommended security measures. Dependable vendor support can prove instrumental in tackling challenges and complexities that may arise during the remediation phase.
By closely collaborating with vendors, organizations can optimize the advantages of a robust CTEM program, effectively overcoming common hurdles associated with subpar testing results and inadequate support.
Placing a strong emphasis on accurate recommendations and reliable vendor support can further help organizations enhance their capacity to address security vulnerabilities and mitigate risks. This proactive approach reinforces the overall strength of their security framework and bolsters the efficacy of the CTEM program.
Moreover, once remediation measures have been executed, it becomes equally imperative to assess the effectiveness of these measures in mitigating exposures. Traditional security testing methods, such as penetration testing, can present significant challenges in this regard.
Like the validation step, the mobilization step requires human experts to remediate critical threat exposures in the CTEM program. When in-house security analysts and DevOps engineers are in high demand, organizations can also leverage extended services to support internal initiatives, such as PTaaS and other managed security services, to assist in guided remediation activities.
Other mechanisms that support the mobilization step are already active in many security programs, including monitoring KPIs for continuous improvement, routine retesting, regular compliance audits and more. These existing activities can supplement an emerging CTEM program as findings can be integrated in real time to refresh the intelligence and prioritization of threat exposures on the attack surface.
By embracing advanced testing approaches, fostering collaboration with vendors and integrating these solutions into existing workflows, organizations can expedite the retesting and validation of remediation efforts. This streamlined mobilization process can enhance the overall effectiveness of the CTEM program, fortifying the organization’s security posture and enabling efficient risk mitigation.
Achieving Success With CTEM
The successful implementation of a CTEM program can be crucial for organizations seeking to enhance their cyber resilience. By effectively scoping the attack surface, continuously discovering vulnerabilities and exposures and prioritizing them based on their likelihood of exploitation, organizations can proactively identify and address security risks.
CISOs can choose to build out their CTEM programs using existing in-house capabilities, or they can further scale internal teams using external solutions. In both cases, the benefits a continuous threat exposure management program can provide are significant.