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The Imperative of Proactive Cyber Exposure Management: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Sep 19, 2023



In an age where cybersecurity threats are not just a technology problem but a critical business issue, proactive exposure management is no longer optional; it’s essential. As digital transformation surges and companies engage with an ever-expanding network of third-party vendors, the cyber risk landscape becomes increasingly complex. Recent studies and analyses, including CyCognito’s State of External Exposure Management Report, provide alarming insights into the prevalence of vulnerabilities, especially in web applications. So, how can organizations step up their game to protect their digital ecosystems?


Why Exposure Management is a Business Imperative


By 2026, 70% of boards will include at least one member with cybersecurity expertise. Business leaders are progressively integrating cybersecurity into the overall risk management strategy. For organizations to effectively navigate this intricate landscape, a proactive exposure management program becomes pivotal.


Key Components for Understanding Exposure


Visibility Across the Digital Ecosystem: Understanding the attack surface is the first step. This extends from on-premises systems to cloud environments and even to third-party vendors.


Real-time Monitoring and Scanning: A recent study indicated that an organization's attack surface fluctuates by as much as 10% each month. Real-time monitoring ensures up-to-date data, letting you respond to new risks as they occur.


Vulnerability Assessment: Assets like web applications are often the weakest link. The study found that 70% of web applications had severe security gaps.


Holistic Approach: Beyond Your Organization


Ignoring third-party risks is a luxury businesses can no longer afford. About 73% of organizations have faced major disruptions due to third-party issues within the last three years. Vendor assessment is thus not just advisable but essential.


Best Practices in Exposure Management


Implement Robust Controls


Risk Prioritization: With comprehensive visibility, focus on areas where the risk is most concentrated.


Cross-Functional Exposure Response Team: Include not just the IT team but also legal, HR, and procurement departments to manage risks better.


Regular Measurement and Benchmarking: Utilize metrics and compare your security posture with industry standards.


Proactive Measures for Effective Management


Continuous Monitoring: Don’t wait for scheduled audits; keep track of your cyber health all the time.


Regular Patching Cadence: The speed at which you patch vulnerabilities directly affects your exposure risk.


Network Segmentation: If infiltrated, hackers will find it challenging to cause widespread damage within segmented networks.


Vendor Monitoring: Extend continuous monitoring to third-party vendors who are part of your digital ecosystem.


Employee Cyber Awareness: Insiders are still a significant source of risk.


Addressing Web Application Vulnerabilities


According to CyCognito's report, web apps typically make up about 22% of the attack surface. Protecting these apps with Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and encrypted connections like HTTPS becomes critical.


Tailoring Threat Prioritization


Relying solely on Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores can be misleading. Organizations should use contextual information about affected assets and threat actors' activities for more nuanced prioritization.


Conclusion


The digital transformation journey expands the threat landscape, requiring a dynamic and proactive approach to cyber exposure management. By applying robust controls, engaging a cross-functional team, and adopting an inclusive risk management approach that includes third-party vendors, organizations can significantly mitigate cyber risks. The strategy should be ever-evolving, using real-time data and analysis to adapt and improve over time.


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