Overcoming 4 Common Attack Surface Management Challenges For Enterprises

Enterprise Security

Enterprises have larger digital footprints than ever before, and this is creating a problem for security teams. Attack surface management has become more challenging than ever due to the complexity of the average enterprise’s approach to infrastructure.

Modern enterprises have fully embraced DevOps culture that emphasizes automation and fast delivery times. Combine this with a cloud-native approach, and security teams face a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

With this in mind, here are 4 common attack surface management challenges and how enterprises can overcome them.

Challenge 1 – Lack Of App Architecture Knowledge

Security teams are often left behind in the race to release code as quickly as possible. Security still operates on a waterfall basis which is incompatible with a DevOps pipeline. While some organizations have embraced DevSecOps, security is still an appendage that is viewed as an add-on instead of a central product feature.

The only way to solve this problem is to increase collaboration between developers and security teams. DevSecOps is a great starting point, but organizations must educate their developers in the DevSecOps basics. For instance, developers must understand what Zero Trust is and the implications it has for their code.

One way of achieving greater collaboration is to hold workshops between both sets of teams so that everyone is aligned. Pushing security as an organizational cornerstone is also a good way of bringing all technical teams on the same page and combating common cybersecurity threats.

Challenge 2 – Evaluating The Current Attack Surface

A common issue security teams have is conducting an audit of their company’s existing attack surface. Typically, this process takes more than 80 hours to complete. Given the cloud-native structure modern enterprises adopt, this timeline means audit conclusions might be irrelevant before security takes necessary measures.

One solution is to adopt a continuous evaluation process that keeps security updated about attack surface changes at all times. Automating this process is also a good idea since security teams cannot manually complete this complex task.

A good attack surface management solution will include some form of continuous monitoring that gives enterprise security teams a clear picture of existing threats. These solutions are a good alternative to the mixture of asset management, CSPM, and log management tools most security teams currently use to paint a picture of their attack surface.

Automation also helps security teams stay on top of patching cycles. As the number of assets grows, keeping pace with patch schedules is challenging. Automation is the best way forward to ensure enterprise assets are always updated.

Challenge 3- A Lack Of Visibility

Complexity in an enterprise’s attack surface leads to a huge problem: A lack of visibility into existing assets. Organizations cannot roll back complexity thanks to dependencies on existing processes, and security has to pick up the slack.

The issue is, most security teams do not know what they’re protecting and cannot measure the threats they face. The best way to mitigate this risk is to automate an asset audit, as described in the previous step. Another step enterprises can take is to integrate their attack surface management tool into a broader SOC platform.

This way, security teams will have visibility into the risks they face and can prioritize incident responses. Integrating various cybersecurity tool outputs into a single centralized platform is a good idea since this gives security teams all the visibility they need into critical issues.

Challenge 4 – Slow Security Investigations

Most enterprises lack a cohesive approach to attack surface management, and this is a problem. Aside from reducing visibility into critical issues, security teams face significant hurdles in conducting investigations into incidents.

When reviewing incidents, these teams rely on a web of complex security tools that do not offer a full picture of the incident. The result is an incomplete picture that does not offer a precedent for future investigations, thus requiring teams to redo work they’ve already completed. 

For instance, if a company suffers a pattern of attacks, security teams can review previous incident investigation reports and quickly mitigate risks. However, without detailed reports, teams must conduct initial investigative steps again, leading to duplicate work and lost time.

Incomplete reports also decreased visibility, with the attendant disadvantages as previously described. A dedicated attack surface management tool mitigates this risk more than anything else, and gives security teams the insights they need to protect valuable assets per established security frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK.

Attack Surfaces Need Constant Protection

Given the volume and complexity of threats modern enterprises face currently, attack surface management must be a critical priority. While companies can use individual security tools to replicate a dedicated attack surface management solution, this leads to a lack of visibility and coordination in responses.

Organizations must embrace attack surface management tools to deal with rising threats and empower their security teams.

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