• Home
  • /Learn
  • /What Is Attack Surface Management (ASM)?
background image


What Is Attack Surface Management (ASM)?


An attack surface is a web of IT assets that hackers can leverage during a cyberattack. By managing your organization's attack surface, you can speed up your incident response, reduce the risk of successful attacks, and improve your organization's overall security posture.

Attack surface management (ASM) is a security practice that helps organizations identify, assess, and mitigate their attack surfaces. ASM is a proactive security measure that can help organizations avoid or minimize the impact of cyberattacks.

ASM can help organizations improve their overall security posture and reduce their risk of successful attacks when used as part of a comprehensive security program. Teams look at an organization's environment from an attacker's perspective, modelling possible attack pathways to the "crown jewels" and then addressing risks in line with the organization's risk tolerance.

Why is attack surface management important?

The fast-paced digital revolution has drastically changed the way enterprises function. For many, these changes entail adapting their historically solid histories and industry leadership to stay adaptable, agile, and flexible. This search for adaptability involves the addition of new hardware and software. It is crucial to remember that as new hardware and software get integrated into a network, an organization's attack surface, too, will adapt and expand over time. 

An organization's attack surface must be carefully monitored and assessed before a vulnerability is exploited. Compared to the restricted scope of vulnerability management, attack surface management incorporates the attacker's point of view to ensure organizations take a more holistic approach to cybersecurity operations. 

An attack surface is a vast area that hackers exploit to steal critical data or information. Protecting your attack surface is essential, especially since attack surfaces are evolving and shifting to the cloud. Businesses must gain total visibility over their attack surface through continuous and comprehensive surveillance to manage risks before attackers can exploit them. 

Limiting risk exposure

Organizations can limit their risk exposure and identify attack surfaces through vulnerability scanning, vulnerability assessments, and penetration tests. To further secure their environment, they should consider implementing an application security program that includes web application firewalls (WAFs), API security, and other modern cybersecurity solutions.

The control of external attack surfaces is a top priority for security teams, and senior leadership since the entirety of an organization's digital footprint forms its attack surface. They can be enormous, encompassing millions of signals, hundreds of thousands of assets, and the entire ecosystem of internet, cloud, and mobile apps. Defending the extended enterprise is a global concern as each organization's security perimeter spills more and more onto the internet.  

What are the benefits of attack surface management?

Attack surface management can help organizations in many ways, including:

  • Reducing the risk of successful attacks

  • Improving incident response times

  • Enhancing overall security posture

  • Identifying and addressing risks early

  • Helping organizations stay ahead of the curve

ASM can help organizations improve their overall security posture and reduce their risk of successful attacks when used as part of a comprehensive security program.

What Are the Primary Responsibilities of External Attack Surface Management? 

The formula for an effective external attack surface management is straightforward: attack surface observations combined with attack surface intelligence. Attack surface management must extend security teams and programs outside the firewall to handle all risks and exposures related to their online presence.   

However, it is impossible to extend security throughout the modern corporate attack surface without a precise, continually updated inventory of the known, unknown, and rogue digital assets (security intelligence). Security teams can only determine how and where an organization is vulnerable using customized security intelligence. 

Amid a spike in attack surfaces, intelligence teams must scour the entire company (and its extension), including partners, vendors, and online assets, to flag risks and take corrective measures before attackers can exploit them.


Final thoughts

Attack surface management is a continuous process of identifying, analyzing, and reducing an organization's attack surface. When done correctly, it can help improve an organization's overall security posture and reduce the risk of successful attacks.