Attack Surface Area Metrics that Every CISO Should Track

Attack Surface Area Metrics that Every CISO Should Track

Enterprises are exploring opportunities to enhance the security of the globally dispersed workforce. Additionally, CISOs also have to manage the increasing attack surface areas.

Cybercriminals exploit the attack surface areas to infiltrate the business network. Businesses are adopting a digital-first approach globally to get a competitive edge.

It has increased the number of potential entry points malicious actors can use. Once they gain access to the business network, they move laterally to accomplish their malicious goals.

Robust cybersecurity strategies will mitigate the risk of increasing attack surface areas.

The SecOps teams must monitor and set Attack surface area metrics to understand the potential risk.

The best attack surface management strategy will enable organizations to reduce the risk. This security strategy should consider the attack surface scope and attack vectors. It should also consider the existing attack plans used by the hackers.

Getting valuable insights will help organizations to prioritize their efforts to secure attack surface areas of critical assets.

Security decision-makers can select a proactive attack surface management to reduce the risk. Selecting the right tools to ensure the approach efficiently strengthens security. In this article, let’s explore the attack surface area metrics every CISO should monitor.

How and why should businesses keep track of the attack surface metrics? 

Businesses need to get Attack Surface Intelligence to strengthen network security. Various tools in the market allow businesses to monitor and measure exposure levels.

Organizations need attack surface intelligence reports to align their cybersecurity approach. Monitoring the potential threats that might lead to a full-blown attack helps to reduce the risk. Organizations that want to strengthen their cybersecurity need attack surface intelligence tools.

The following are the benefits of getting attack surface intelligence insights:

  • Get a holistic view of the entire assets in the attack surface areas
  • Monitor the recently added or discovered assets and maintain an updated asset inventory.
  • Flag all potentially exposed assets. Attack surface area metrics will also help to determine the criticality of exposure.
  • It helps to keep an entire digital risk profile with the criticality of the exposure to allow prioritization.

Attack Surface Metrics to Monitor

Attack Surface Metrics to Monitor

Monitoring attack surface metrics helps security teams to track the exposed network areas. It will also allow businesses to measure the success of the attack surface management strategies. Moreover, these metrics help to make strategic data-driven changes to reduce cyber risk.

Following are a few attack surface metrics CISOs and SecOps teams should monitor:

  • Total number of assets

Digital transformation efforts have accelerated across all industries. It has led to a constant stream of ever-evolving IT assets. Following are the IT assets that can introduce security risks to the IT infrastructure:

  1. Cloud applications,
  2. Internet of Things (IoT),
  3. Third-party code libraries,
  4. Development and staging domains,
  5. Virtual Private Network (VPN) endpoints,

Monitoring all the assets is the key to determining usage patterns and irregularities. It will also help to get valuable insights into the internet-facing infrastructure. Understanding the total number of assets allows CISOs to monitor their infrastructure size. Furthermore, it helps to make more informed digital transformation decisions.

  • Recently added or discovered assets

Besides monitoring the total number of assets, businesses must track newly discovered IT assets. Tracking newly discovered assets should be a crucial attack surface area metric that CISOs must monitor.

Enterprises use multiple applications, domains, and data sets to operate. Hackers are constantly on the prowl to scan IPs and open ports of such assets.

Businesses today add new applications to their IT infrastructure. Even one new asset can expose the entire business network to significant risks. Hackers can use this vulnerable exposure as an entry point to critical infrastructure. Identifying newly discovered assets in the business network will help to detect potentially vulnerable exposures.

SecOps teams should categorize the Newly discovered assets. They should tag them to determine their location and ownership. SecOps teams need to execute tests to understand if the asset holds a risk or not.

Monitoring newly discovered assets is crucial during a full-blown security incident. If a security incident occurs in a large and complex IT environment, it can be challenging.

SecOps teams might find it difficult to identify the entry points of the intrusion and start the mitigation process. Understanding the number of assets added daily will help to streamline the evaluation process. It is an efficient way to minimize the data pools that the SecOps teams need to examine.

  • Total number of exposed assets

Another important attack surface metric that CISOs need to monitor is accurate inventory. Considering all assets have an equal contribution to the attack surface area can mislead.

Protecting all assets can be challenging as the digital landscape constantly increases. Hence, it is crucial to understand how many assets have potential exposure to risk. Businesses can enforce the right security controls based on the exposed device risk.

Monitoring the number of exposed assets is essential to reduce the attack surface area. Small targets are challenging to infiltrate. Businesses need to make all the entry points to the business network more challenging to compromise.

This attack surface area metric enables tracking the increase in the attack surface. Business leaders can make strategic decisions based on security risks.

  • MTTA (Mean Time to Action)

Monitoring the Mean Time to Identification as an attack surface area metric is good. However, it is only effective if the SecOps teams act on the data real-time.

Many controls go beyond the security team’s control. MTTA is a surface attack area metric within the SecOps team’s control.

Suppose the organization takes nearly 24 hours to discover an asset but takes three weeks to take action. Such organizations have a resourcing problem.

Monitoring this attack surface metric is critical to calculating the operational efficiency of the security teams. This metric will allow making strategic headcount or tools decisions to enhance security.

Also Read: Why CISOs Need a New Approach to Enhance Attack Surface Visibility

  • MTTR (Mean Time to Remediation) 

There will always be a few issues that the IT teams have to mitigate. It is because no system is entirely secure from multiple threats.

One of the significant ways to minimize the risks to the attack surface area is to restrict the time frame that attackers can exploit. The following three factors are the core of a successful security strategy:

  1. Quick and effective vulnerability management
  2. Efficient security operations
  3. Real-time incident response and remediation.

If the MTTR is high, the SecOps teams still expose a potential entry point for hackers to enter the network. Businesses must monitor their average turnaround time between the asset discovered on the network perimeter and remediated.

CISOs can consider and set these attack surface area metrics to monitor the efficiency of their security posture.

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