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EASM: What It Is and How It Can Be Useful

Pallavi Vishwakarma
July 2, 2023

The external attack surface has been growing rapidly in recent years, driven by a range of factors including the increased use of cloud services, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

One of the main drivers of the growth in the external attack surface is the adoption of cloud services. While cloud computing offers many benefits, it also introduces new security risks. With data and applications stored in the cloud, attackers have more opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to an organization's digital assets.

What is EASM?

External attack surface management (EASM) is a security practice that involves identifying and managing the digital assets and properties that an organization owns or controls, which could be exploited by external attackers to gain unauthorized access or disrupt its operations. The goal of EASM is to reduce an organization's attack surface, which is the total sum of all the vulnerabilities and threats in its digital footprint.

How you can implement EASM in your organization?

So for better understanding, we have listed a few steps that you can follow to manage your external attack surface:

          1. Discovery: 

The first step in EASM is to discover all the assets and digital properties that an organization owns or controls. This includes websites, mobile applications, cloud infrastructure, social media accounts, and other digital assets. This can be done using automated tools that scan the internet for the organization's digital footprint.

          2. Enumeration: 

Once the digital assets and properties have been discovered, the next step is to enumerate all the ways that an attacker could potentially gain unauthorized access to them. This includes identifying open ports, unsecured APIs, misconfigured servers, and other vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the organization's digital infrastructure.

          3. Prioritization: 

Once the vulnerabilities and weaknesses have been identified, the next step is to prioritize them based on their potential impact on the organization and the likelihood of exploitation. This involves assessing the criticality of each asset, as well as the potential impact of a successful attack.

          4. Remediation: 

Once the vulnerabilities and weaknesses have been prioritized, the next step is to take action to mitigate them. This includes patching software, removing unnecessary services, implementing access controls, and other measures to reduce the organization's attack surface.

          5. Monitoring: 

The final step in EASM is ongoing monitoring and assessment of the organization's digital footprint. This involves using automated tools to scan for new vulnerabilities and threats, as well as monitoring the organization's digital assets for signs of compromise.

How EASM helps organizations?

External attack surface management (EASM) can help organizations in several ways, including:

  • Reducing the risk of successful attacks: By identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities and threats in an organization's digital footprint, EASM can help reduce the likelihood of successful attacks. By reducing an organization's attack surface, it becomes more difficult for attackers to find and exploit weaknesses in the organization's infrastructure.
  • Improving security posture: EASM can help organizations improve their overall security posture by identifying weaknesses in their digital infrastructure and taking steps to address them. This can help organizations prevent attacks and minimize the impact of successful attacks.
  • Enhancing compliance: EASM can help organizations meet compliance requirements by identifying and addressing vulnerabilities that could result in data breaches or other security incidents. This can help organizations avoid fines, legal liabilities, and other penalties associated with noncompliance.
  • Reducing costs: By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and threats in their digital footprint, EASM can help organizations avoid the costs associated with security incidents. This includes the costs of responding to incidents, recovering from data breaches, and addressing legal and regulatory compliance issues.
  • Strengthening customer trust: EASM can help organizations strengthen customer trust by demonstrating their commitment to protecting customer data and maintaining the security of their digital assets. This can help organizations maintain their reputation and avoid the negative consequences of a security breach.

Final thoughts

Overall, the rise of the external attack surface presents a significant challenge for organizations seeking to maintain the security of their digital assets. To address this challenge, organizations need to adopt a proactive approach to security, including regular vulnerability assessments, threat monitoring, and incident response planning. By taking these steps, organizations can better protect themselves from the evolving threat landscape and maintain the security of their digital assets.

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