Here are the main challenges organizations face when trying to map and protect the external attack surface:
Distributed IT Ecosystems
Organizations no longer have a traditional, well-defined network perimeter. Today’s IT ecosystems include numerous endpoints and assets scattered across many locations and devices. The ecosystem can include a core network, regional offices, subsidiaries, third-party hosting providers, and business partners that are located beyond the organization’s firewalls.
In addition to the increasingly distributed nature of IT ecosystems, organizations also face critical risks posed by shadow IT, unauthorized use of IT systems, software, devices, services, and applications. Often, shadow IT can help improve employee productivity and also drive innovation. However, it also introduces critical security risks that may result in data leaks and potential compliance violations.
The main issue is not that employees use a certain tool. Rather, security issues occur because employees introduce these tools without informing the IT or security department. Shadow IT means security teams do not even know about compromised assets already being exploited by attackers. There is no visibility, no way to inventory all assets, and no way to ensure the security stack truly covers all components interacting with the IT ecosystem.
If the IT team is unaware of these tools, they cannot raise protections around them to ensure proper use and defend against attacks. They cannot patch to the latest secure version of software or monitor vulnerabilities. As a result, the organization is vulnerable to attacks.
Too Much Data from Automated Tools
Organizations often use multiple tools to monitor the attack surface. As a result, they spend extensive resources and time without achieving actionable visibility. These tools produce massive amounts of data that require constant maintenance and analysis. Too much data and too many alerts can end up draining resources. To truly be helpful, security tools need to employ prioritization and alert triage capabilities that offer actionable insights.
Related content: Read our guide to attack surface monitoring (coming soon)