January 12, 2023
Attackers have learned to quickly pivot to find the path of least resistance into your organization as fast as your security team builds a defense to combat current threats. The concept of threat exposure management combines attackers’ and defenders’ views to minimize your organization’s exposure to present and future threats. It is done by providing a richer, more contextual insight to help identify, prioritize, and manage unexpected risks or vulnerabilities. This approach differs from threat management since it responds to the ever-changing threat landscape, enabling you to build evidence-based security.
The first step is knowing your current risk posture. Comparing your organization against current industry standards, such as the Center for Internet Security or NIST framework, provides a baseline. Another avenue is having an independent review of your total IT environment and business for a comprehensive view. Risk identification is a continuous task as your environment changes. For example, moving to a
remote workforce can require new security controls to ensure your employee’s remote workplace is as secure as your office. Primary weak points include unsecured networks, increased use of legacy remote access methods, reliance on weak authentication mechanisms, and increasing remote access entry points.
If you depend on third-party providers for critical services, how secure is their environment? If you moved to cloud services, does your security team know how to monitor settings and configurations to ensure the security of sensitive data and services? Understanding the lines of demarcation between the vendor and your organization is critical to ensure you are covered in a security breach.
Although you may have identified security vulnerabilities in the first step, not all have the potential to turn into significant incidents such as data leaks or ransomware. Ranking the possibility of the risk occurring and the impact on your business allows you to focus on fixing the critical items. Sites such as the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency provide research articles on the latest known vulnerabilities and security alerts to help you determine priority. In addition, if you have a cyber insurance policy, review your coverage. If the policy covers the potential risk, you may want to reduce the ranking; however, you still need to consider the impact on your reputation and possible cancellation or increase in your insurance premium rates if you make a claim.
Implementing controls and countermeasures to reduce risks and vulnerabilities’ likelihood and impact. In addition, regularly confirm the controls are followed. Most organizations have processes for patching because patching is an essential contributor to ﬁxing vulnerabilities; however, it also needs to be supplemented with conﬁguration management and software upgrades to remediate vulnerabilities fully.
As the threats evolve, you must continuously monitor the environment for changes impacting your organization’s security posture. Spend time regularly reviewing business-critical functions and those areas seen as high risk by business leaders for new potential threat vectors and gaps in visibility or response capability. Also, be aware of targets against your specific industry and exchange ideas with other industry experts on what they see in the industry and actions taken to increase their security posture.
Cybersecurity threats are on the rise in 2023. Phishing remains the most widespread threat, especially for small and mid-sized businesses, accounting for 90% of all data breaches. Having a CISO and security analysts review your current environment and provide actionable recommendations can make sure your organization doesn’t become a ransomware statistic in 2023.