Close Security Gaps with Continuous Threat Exposure Management

According to Gartner Research, “By 2026, organizations prioritizing… a continuous exposure management program will be 3x less likely to suffer from a breach.”

By Seemant Sehgal, CEO and Founder, BreachLock

CISOs, security leaders, and the SOC team have limited visibility to see everything connecting to company-owned assets and networks. They lack open-source intelligence and robust technology to discover and protect their systems, data, and assets proactively, continuously, and most importantly – effectively.

Meanwhile, as today’s advanced threat actors scan for easy-to-hack, low-hanging fruit vulnerabilities 24/7, CISOs are seeking a better way to minimize threat exposures to protect their assets, users, and data against unrelenting cyber-attacks and significant breach impacts.

To answer the call, an emerging solution that tackles the highest, most critical priorities at the first step in the attack chain has given security leaders a new weapon to manage their most critical threat exposures at the source. Leading analyst firm, Gartner Research, explains the solution: “By 2026, organizations prioritizing their security investments based on a continuous exposure management program will be 3x less likely to suffer from a breach.”

But exactly what does this entail?

With a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program, security teams can prevent their adversaries from achieving their objectives by reducing critical risks on exposed assets.

This holistic approach incorporates prevention and remediation to a) prevent a breach entirely, or b) significantly lower the impact if a breach does occur.

In his latest article in The Hacker News, Seemant Sehgal examines what CISOs are facing with non-stop threat exposures, and then explains how two foundational cornerstones for a world-class continuous threat exposure management program can work together for a CTEM program. Using Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS) and External Attack Surface Management (EASM) – security leaders can build the industry’s most sought-after recommendations for CTEM. Due to the combined power, defenders can proactively close critical security gaps fast on exposed security assets today.

Faster Threats, Weaker Controls, and Preventable Breaches

Despite investments in security technology and talent, current methods are falling short on risk reduction, threat exposures, and breach prevention in 2023.

While today’s methods for preventative cyber risk management are effective, they are slow to execute, resource-heavy, and prone to human error. Activities such as continuous vulnerability discovery, vulnerability identification, and patch management take time and experienced talent to get the jobs done correctly. When these routine activities are delayed or mishandled, the likelihood of a financially impactful security breach increases.

At the same time, threat actors can easily purchase initial footholds into high-value targets on the dark web, facilitated by ransomware-as-a-service and initial access brokers. They can also obtain user credentials online. These credentials are incredibly easy for threat actors to procure for targeted tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

Further exacerbating the risks, the cybersecurity skills gap and economic forces have left many SecOps and DevOps teams understaffed, under resourced, and alert fatigued.

Together, these forces have left the SOC with limited visibility, giving an unfair advantage to threat actors. This trend must be reversed.

Threat Exposures Are Increasing Attack Surfaces

External attackers caused 3 out of 4 reported breaches in 2022. These external attacks are fast, complex, and significant for today’s modern SOC. The defense strategy that organizations must have in place must be multi-faceted, as their networks, systems, and users are being attacked non-stop by external threat actors with malicious intent.

Vulnerabilities, security gaps and weak controls are collectively creating an ever-morphing attack surface where threat actors can prey upon easy-to-hack threat exposures. Traditionally, these issues fell into the vulnerability management function. However, as cyber criminals are out scanning for vulnerable attack surfaces to find weak controls, unpatched assets, and vulnerable systems, their TTPs have become incredibly accurate, lightning fast, and wickedly effective.

Security teams need better capabilities that enable accuracy, speed, and agility over their adversaries.

With that understanding, it’s mission-critical to prioritize the remediation of these critical security threat exposures, as most are preventable. When discovered quickly and promptly remediated, CISOs can effectively reduce the totality of their attack surface to stop the non-stop expansion from continuously growing at an exponential rate. Thus, organizations should incorporate a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program that runs around the clock.

Building a Proactive Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program

Enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) alike should consider implementing a CTEM program to simplify traditional vulnerability management and reduce the attack surface. By proactively addressing vulnerabilities and implementing effective risk management measures, organizations can enhance their security posture and mitigate the potential impact of breaches. CTEM offers a comprehensive approach that extends beyond vulnerability management, providing intelligence, context, and data to contextualize and validate discoveries.

According to Gartner Research, a CTEM program is an integrated, dynamic approach to prioritizing remediation and mitigation of the most critical cyber risks while continually improving the security posture: “CTEM a set of processes and capabilities that allow enterprises to continually and consistently evaluate the accessibility, exposure and exploitability of an enterprise’s digital and physical assets.”

CTEM Is Engineered for DevSecOps

A CTEM program consists of five stages, each with a distinct purpose that must be repeated in every cycle: scoping, discovery, prioritization, validation, and mobilization.

These phases support the security team’s understanding of their cyberthreat landscape and help them take meaningful action. This is part of the mobilization stage of the CTEM program, where vulnerabilities and risks are prioritized by asset for rapid remediation and integrated workflows for DevSecOps.

Once established, a CTEM program can prevent incidents and breaches, accelerate risk reduction, and improve security maturity. It should encompass the following features and capabilities:

  • Automated asset discovery and vulnerability management
  • Continuous vulnerability assessment of threat exposures forming the attack surface
  • Security validation to remove false positives and ensure accuracy
  • Visibility to see the adversary’s perspective and potential attack paths
  • Prioritized remediation with integrated DevSecOps workflows

Combine EASM and PTaaS for Your CTEM Program

Build your CTEM program with BreachLock. We can enable your in-house DevSecOps teams with everything needed to measurably reduce risks 24/7/365. The result? Always-on Threat Exposure Management that enables, augments, and extends in-house team capabilities to stop threats at the external source before an expensive, impactful security breach occurs.

Figure: BreachLock’s PTaaS and EASM platforms combine to create a world-class CTEM program.

  1. First, teams can launch SET, BreachLock’s EASM platform, to “see external threats” in 1 hour or less for External Attack Surface Management. SET gives in-house teams the tools they need to remediate vulnerabilities and threat exposures fast for a significantly less penetrable attack surface. With SET, security teams can set the scope, discover, and quantify assets into a real-time asset inventory along with continuous asset discovery, vulnerability scanning, and threat monitoring of external attack surfaces.

SET offers a real-time, single pane of glass to see external threats and risks and prioritize them for remediation:

  • Scan the internet for known and unknown vulnerabilities exposed to the internet – and helps security teams respond fast to beat cyber criminals lurking on the internet looking for their next target.
  • Investigate each discovered asset and URL affected by each discovered vulnerability with context and data.
  • Continuously scan 24/7 for newly discovered assets, security vulnerabilities, weaknesses, misconfiguration, and compliance issues that your security team can remediate fast with accuracy and precision.

Check out BreachLock’s Founder and CEO Seemant Sehgal’s interview with Cybercrime Ventures and learn more about SET for EASM: [Video] See External Threats with SET, BreachLock’s New EASM Platform

  1. Second, security leaders can security validation and full stack pentesting services using BreachLock’s award-winning, analyst recognized Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS). With a cloud-native, secure platform, teams can work together with BreachLock’s in-house, certified penetration testers for security and compliance testing, vulnerability assessments, and security validation that scales with agility, flexibility, and continuity like never before.

With PTaaS, security leaders can start a penetration test in one business day:

  • Assess and validate security with proactive, continuous security testing that is accurate, efficient, and free of false positives.
  • Take the driver’s seat in the CTEM program by conducting penetration testing across full stack systems with BreachLock’s cloud-native penetration testing platform to secure cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid environments.
  • Conduct pentesting on schedule, with tools to conduct automated vulnerability scanning and assess vulnerabilities continuously to reduce threat exposures and eliminate the potential of a preventable security breach.

With the new evolution of CTEM that combines the power of PTaaS and EASM solutions, CISOs and security leaders can take a proactive, defense-in-depth stance against cyber-attacks that is proven and prioritized for success. These combined capabilities enable teams with robust programmatic capabilities that can significantly reduce cyber risks immediately while improving security outcomes over time.

Ready to see why PTaaS and EASM is the best combined approach to closing security gaps with a Continuous Threat Exposure Management program? Contact our security experts in CTEM and Penetration Testing Services for a discovery call today.

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