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The Growing Importance of CAASM in Company Cybersecurity Strategy

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The recent years’ events, including the proliferation of ransomware, the pandemic, and political tensions, have fast-tracked the development of both offensive and defensive tools in the cyber domain. Cybersecurity concepts that were nascent a few years ago are now being refined, demonstrating the practical benefits of modern digital risk management strategies.

Gartner analysts have highlighted the expansion of the attack surface as a significant risk for corporate cyber environments in the upcoming years. The most vulnerable entities include IoT devices, cloud apps, open-source systems, and complex software supply chains.

There is an increasing demand for concepts like Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management (CAASM), External Attack Surface Management (EASM), and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) in corporate security frameworks. This trend is also documented in Gartner’s “hype” chart.

Let’s discuss the concept of CAASM, which is centered on identifying and managing all digital assets within an organization, whether they are internal or external. This approach aims to provide a comprehensive view and control over the organization’s cyber environment, enhancing security measures and management practices.

What Is CAASM

CAASM assists IT departments in achieving end-to-end visibility of a company’s cyber assets. This strategy creates a fuller understanding of the actual state of the infrastructure, enabling the security team to respond promptly to existing threats and potential future ones.

CAASM-based products and solutions integrate with a broad array of data sources and security tools. CAASM gathers and aggregates data and analyzes perimeter traffic, providing a continuous, multi-dimensional view of the entire attack surface.

Having access to current asset data enables information security officers to visualize the infrastructure and address security gaps promptly. They can prioritize the protection of assets and develop a unified perspective on the organization’s actual security posture. This sets the stage for proactive risk management strategies.

Exploring CAASM’s Core Functions

The CAASM approach equips security professionals with a variety of tools necessary for effectively managing an organization’s attack surface and addressing risks.

  • Asset Discovery
    • A lack of visibility into all of an organization’s assets heightens the risk of cyberattacks. Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management products automatically detect and catalog every component of a company’s digital infrastructure, encompassing local, cloud, and various remote systems, including shadow IT.
    • A company employing CAASM gains a clear overview of all its deployed web applications, servers, network devices, and cloud services. CAASM facilitates a comprehensive inventory of the devices, applications, networks, and users constituting the company’s attack surface.
  • Vulnerability Detection
    • It is important to understand the risks each asset poses, such as missing the latest security updates or opportunities to access sensitive data. CAASM systems integrate asset data, helping security teams identify misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and other risks. The analysis considers software versions, patches, and configurations that hackers could exploit to launch an attack.
  • Risk Prioritization
    • CAASM systems evaluate how critical detected vulnerabilities are, helping prioritize and reduce the most substantial risks. Suppose the developers at a company are using an open-source library that has a known Log4Shell vulnerability. In such a scenario, CAASM will assist IT specialists in identifying all assets impacted by this vulnerability. It will also help prioritize this issue among other risks and communicate the relevant risk information to the information security department.
  • Integration With Security Tools
    • Broad visibility into infrastructure components is realized by integrating CAASM solutions with existing cyber defense tools, including:
      • Active Directory monitoring and protection solutions
      • Vulnerability scanners
      • Endpoint Protection Platforms (ERP)
      • Software Bill of Material (SBOM)
      • External Attack Surface Management (EASM)
  • Continuous Monitoring
    • CAASM products continuously monitor an organization’s attack surface for changes and new vulnerabilities, covering hardware, software, and data, both on-premises and in the cloud. For example, should new cloud storage be deployed without adequate access controls, CAASM will spot the insecure configuration and alert the security team. This real-time visibility significantly narrows the window of opportunity for potential attacks.
  • Mitigation and Remediation
    • CAASM platforms offer insights and recommendations on ways to remedy identified vulnerabilities, asset misconfigurations, and issues with security tools. For example, these actions can involve automated virtual patch deployment, configuration tweaks, or other measures designed to reduce the organization’s attack surface.
  • Reporting and Analytics
    • The advanced reporting and analytics features of CAASM products enable a company to track its infrastructure security status over time, assess the success of its security initiatives, and demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • CAASM vs. Other Surface Management Tools
    • Let’s explore the main differences between CAASM and similar strategies. Using a table, we will compare them side-by-side, focusing on External Attack Surface Management and Cloud Security Posture Management systems.
  • CAASM vs. EASM vs. CSPM
  CAASM EASM CSPM
Product Focus

Covers all cyber assets including on-prem, cloud, remote systems, and IoT devices.

Focuses on external resources like public apps, cloud services, servers, and third-party elements.

Targets cloud infrastructure, settings, and security policy compliance.

Threat Management

Manages internal and external threats, integrates with EASM tools for external data.

Addresses threats from external sources or attackers.

Fixes misconfigurations and compliance issues in cloud environments.

Visibility

A comprehensive view of the attack surface includes assets, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities.

Views external attack surface from an attacker’s perspective.

Continuous monitoring of cloud security status.

Integration

Integrates with diverse data sources and security tools to detect and prioritize weak points.

Uses scanning, reconnaissance, and threat analysis to assess external risks.

Integrates via APIs with cloud service tools for security policy assessment and monitoring.

Attack Surface Management

Controls and reduces attack surface through continuous vulnerability detection and monitoring.

Manages the external attack surface by identifying exploitable software and network elements.

Improves cloud security through the identification and resolution of misconfigurations and compliance risks.

Objectives

Aims to improve overall security by timely addressing risks across all assets.

Seeks to reduce the risk of data breaches by minimizing external attack surface.

Aims to improve cloud security according to best practices and standards.

As you can see, CAASM is a universal security information system that encompasses and continuously protects all the company’s digital assets against both external and internal threats. Integrating CAASM-based products enhances data sharing, effectively complementing EASM and other tools aimed at overseeing the company’s assets.

Measuring the Success of CAASM Adoption

You can assess the effectiveness of CAASM after its integration into the company’s cyber defense system by monitoring various indicators. Let’s identify the main factors that will help you make this evaluation.

  • Asset Coverage
    • The primary measure of CAASM’s effectiveness lies in how comprehensively it covers the organization’s assets. This includes servers, devices, applications, databases, networks, and cloud resources. The broader the range of assets CAASM can monitor, the more accurately it can map the potential attack surface, leading to more effective threat protection.
  • Mean Time to Inventory
    • The Mean Time to Inventory (MTTI) metric shows how quickly new assets are identified and added to CAASM. A quicker discovery process suggests a proactive strategy in spotting and handling assets.
  • Vulnerability Mitigation Speed
    • The vulnerability detection and remediation rates reflect the percentage of identified vulnerabilities resolved within a specific timeframe. Swiftly addressing issues signifies a more efficient strategy in minimizing security risks.
  • Incident Detection and Response Time
    • Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) shows how quickly a security incident is noticed, while Mean Time to Respond (MTTR) tracks the time taken to respond and recover. Lower MTTD and MTTR indicate that CAASM is performing more efficiently within the company.
  • Compliance
    • This metric reflects the share of assets adhering to industry standards and regulatory requirements. The greater this percentage, the more efficiently assets are managed, leading to a decreased chance of security incidents.
  • Cost Savings and ROI
    • Reducing business downtime, cutting incident response expenses, avoiding regulatory penalties, and more – all reflect the effectiveness of CAASM implementation and contribute to its ROI in the long run.

Conclusion

CAASM is beneficial for mature organizations with complex and dynamic infrastructures. Continuous monitoring of all assets, including shadow IT, enables the timely adaptation of protection measures against existing and emerging threats, making CAASM a valuable component of a company’s cybersecurity strategy.

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