Why External Attack Surface Management is Crucial in 2023

Once upon a time, gate-based cybersecurity methods were the most efficient way to protect an organization’s external attack surface.

The fact is, with companies constantly growing and expanding by the minute, it’s simply impossible to get security teams to analyze and sign off on each new asset or application prior to them going live.

In addition to that, most businesses are completely unaware of just how widespread their external attack surface really is. As a result, without the aid of External Attack Surface Management (EASM), there is an increased chance that a business’s external assets will become vulnerable at one point or another.

Today we uncover how External Attack Surface Management is essential in securing a company’s IT architecture and ensuring it doesn’t fall victim to cyber-attacks, becoming the latest cautionary tale for others in 2023.

Why External Attack Surface Management is the Future of Cybersecurity

Businesses, big and small, often manage large amounts of sensitive data and sometimes even funds. This makes them alluring to cyber criminals as they often focus on their targets, considering the greatest profitability.

And, from an online criminal’s perspective, the more external assets on offer, the greater the attack surface. A broad attack surface means there are more options for acquiring access to various environments and a higher chance that a breach will occur. In addition, smaller companies are vulnerable because they have smaller IT teams and less robust security management.

External Attack Surface Management allows for monitoring a company’s external entry points, which can be used to access things like data, sensitive information or complete systems.

An increasingly faced-paced way of doing business has resulted in many security challenges that conventional security monitoring methods just cannot keep up with, which EASM aims to address.

A shifting asset landscape is incredibly tricky to keep track of. However, a strong EASM program is set to become the solution for cybersecurity teams in 2023, particularly when it comes to the changing online security trends we’re witnessing.

Vulnerable Common Attack Surfaces

An attack surface involves a physical or digital interface that an attacker can try to gain access to in order to deploy an attack vector or gain sensitive information. To make matters worse, if this attack is successful and goes unnoticed, it is usually used as a point of entry for a chain of attacks.

Understanding and defining the attack surface area is key to protecting it. With the increased use of cloud environments, the entry points of publicly accessible web applications include known, unknown and rouge assets.

Known assets are those which IT teams are aware of and observe with extra care. These include:

  • Cloud storage
  • Third-party services
  • Middleware
  • DNS domains and subdomains
  • Server misconfigurations
  • Hosted apps
  • Web VPNs
  • Routers
  • Ports
  • Frameworks
  • Physical employee devices

Unknown assets are unavoidable and create weaknesses in the attack surface. They are unknown to the security team and are also referred to as shadow IT. Unknown assets can be made up of independently installed software by workers or even forgotten websites. Often, they are harder to discover, especially for growing companies that lack the right tools and processes.

They will occur when mistakes are made in IT software installation or code or can even result from an insecure supply chain.

Rogue assets are all those assets created by malicious actors. This includes malware, typo-squatted domains, websites or even mobile applications built to impersonate the target company.

The External Attack Surface Management Solution

There are some businesses that still rely on vulnerability scanning when it comes to baseline External Attack Surface Management. Unfortunately, this outdated type of assessment provides teams with results that expire quickly and, more often than not, do not paint a true picture of an organization’s sensitive data, digital assets and risks.

EASM is one of the key tools that help organizations identify all possible risks with internet-facing systems and assets. It does this through the following processes and technologies:

  • Asset discovery
  • Data classification
  • Analysis
  • Prioritization
  • Remediation
  • Complete data classification

This tool is also linked to the MIRE ATT&CK Framework — a resource that lists the most common and latest hacking methods that might endanger a company, helping them uncover weaknesses early.

Controlling the Attack Surface

One of the most effective ways to control an attack surface is by limiting the features that are made available to external users. So, for example, only authorized employees or registered customers should be able to access things like online demos or intranet modules that might expose code. In addition to that, content management and administration modules should have enforced access restrictions.

Other steps that can be taken to curb the amount of entry points include:

  • Use obscure points
  • Enforce IP restrictions
  • Only collect the necessary data
  • Try to make any sensitive data anonymous
  • Secure admin modules on a completely isolated site
  • Restrict the type of files that can be uploaded by users to ensure secure uploads
  • Enforce cloud workload security to enhance cloud protection which helps against breaches

Staying a Step Ahead of Threat Actors in 2023

A decade ago, traditional online security strategies included providing substantial perimeter defenses through firewalls, antivirus software and internal networks. Back then, that type of cybersecurity method might have been enough to protect the assets of a business.

In today’s fast-paced online environment, threat actors don’t have to break through the perimeter thanks to externally hosted assets, leaving IT specialists with a major problem in ensuring the security of the external attack surface.

The truth is that every company, whether big or small, has an external attack surface made up of internet-facing assets. Assets such as operating systems, domain names, IoT devices, servers, security devices and public cloud servers make up common components of an external attack surface.  

Unless properly controlled, assets such as these, together with attack vectors, are what cybercriminals can use to steal sensitive data.

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is that they’re unaware of just how vast their attack surface is, which is why external attack surface management is crucial in the protection of a company’s assets in 2023.

Role of Auditing in Corporate Governance

Corporate governance is the performance of a board of directors and how they determine the company’s values.

Corporate governance is a method by which companies are managed and governed with the aim of enabling effective, entrepreneurial and responsible management.

The board of directors is responsible for governance. The shareholders are responsible for governance. They must appoint directors and auditors to ensure that the company has a good governance structure.

Corporate governance refers to the actions and decisions of a board of directors in determining the company’s values.

Benefits of corporate governance

Corporate success and economic growth are only possible through good corporate governance. Corporate governance is essential for investors to feel confident and for the company to be able raise capital efficiently. It reduces capital costs.

Corporate governance reduces capital costs. The stock price is a benefit. It provides the best incentive for owners and managers to reach goals that are in the best interest of shareholders and the company.

A strong corporate governance system can reduce corruption, mismanagement, and hazards. Corporate governance supports brand building and growth by ensuring that the company is managed according to the interests of all shareholders.

What role does auditing play in corporate governance?

Internal Auditing is an independent, objective consulting and assurance activity that adds value to a company’s operations. It helps companies achieve their goals by using a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of their risk management, control and governance systems.

Governing body: This is the entity responsible for the organization’s overall direction and control. In most cases, auditing serves two purposes. Auditors perform objective and impartial assessments of an organization’s governance structure, as well as the effectiveness of specific governance operations.

They also act as agents to modify, advise, or advocate for improvements in the organization’s governance and procedures. The board of directors and management of a company oversee and create processes that ensure effective governance. These efforts can be supported and enhanced by internal auditors. Auditors should be independent and may not interfere with the development of governance mechanisms.

Auditing is a key tool in effective organizational governance because it provides assurance on the organization’s risk management, control and governance processes.

The maturity of an organization’s governance and structure, as well as its role in the organization and qualifications of auditors will determine which capacity is most important for auditing.

The internal audit function is designed to assist companies with limited governance processes and structures. It provides advice and compares existing structures against regulations, and helps meet compliance requirements.

Auditors can focus on structured governance practices to determine if the company’s components work together, analyze the reporting transparency between its parts and the governance structure, and compare governance best practices.

Internal auditing focuses on governance activities and not just process audits. Internal auditors assess the organization’s governance structure and design. These auditors can assist companies by advising the board and executive management on important upgrades and changes to structure and design. They are not limited to ensuring that existing processes work. This is different from separate audits that provide objective assessments of specific governance actions.

Internal audits are based on data collected over a specific time period from different audit assignments. Internal auditors should be able to assess the accountability of key organizational governance elements and integrate assessments on risk management with critical controls.

These governance activity assessments may include the outcomes of specific board-level governance review work as well as governance issues arising from different audit assignments.

Internal auditors are the board’s catalysts. They can best serve by providing objective, independent information and evaluation. They can help the board learn about culture, tone and ethics, transparency, and how to interact with each other.

Modern internal auditing relies on an organization’s structure to detect, respond to, and manage the various strategic, financial, or compliance risks.

Hire Skilled Analytics For Corporate Governance Auditing

A Corporate Governance Audit can be a helpful approach to ensuring that a company has followed all applicable laws. It also ensures that adequate internal control systems, policies and procedures have been in place to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

Healthcare Benefits Management Platform Trends

Collective Health, founded in 2013, offers employers a way to knit together various health benefits – medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, and other specialized offerings — on a single technology platform. Among its new investors is Health Care Service Corporation, a major seller of Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans, as an investor and business partner. HCSC’S self-insured employer clients will be able to opt-in to use Collective Health’s systems, giving them a complete view into what they pay for health care.

Collective Health Raises $280M in Funding

According to researcher CB Insights, globally, investors put $31.6 billion into healthcare ventures in the first quarter, a record high. The average size of digital-health deals jumped 45% from last year to about $46 million in the quarter, data from investment firm Rock Health show. Collective Health’s recent investments bring its total fundraising to about $720 million.

Health care “needs to become like anything else that you buy for the enterprise: a primary data driven-decision,” Ali Diab, Collective Health’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Benefit leaders, finance leaders, and executives have not had the ability to make truly data-driven decisions in terms of what kind of health care they procure for their populations, and they need to be able to do that.”

Employers using Collective Health still rely on insurance carriers to contract with networks of medical providers. But the company takes over some functions that traditional health plan administrators perform, like claims processing and customer service. Collective Health also analyzes claims data to recommend treatment options to members.

The San Francisco-based company has more than 500 employees and serves about 300,000 members across more than 55 companies, Diab said. Customers typically have at least 1,000 employees and are self-insured. They pay the medical costs for their health plans directly and rely on insurance carriers only for administrative functions like contracting with doctors. Collective charges clients a per-employee-per-month fee for its service. Customers include Live Nation, Pinterest, and Red Bull.

HCSC, a 16 million-member insurer that operates Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, was searching for technology that would improve the experience of both clients and their plan members.

“Health care is rather fragmented today, so we were looking to eliminate the fragmentation and really try to make giant steps in terms of technological improvement in the minds of our members and employers,” said Kevin Cassidy, HCSC’s chief growth officer.

The deal with the insurer will accelerate Collective Health’s reach with large employers, said Mohamad Makhzoumi, who leads the Global Healthcare Investing practice at venture firm New Enterprise Associates, Inc.

NEA first invested in Collective in 2014. Diab had no customers or even a beta product at the time – simply “a really nice slide deck,” Makhzoumi said. Even with hundreds of thousands of members now, Makhzoumi said the challenge ahead for Collective Health is whether it can reach a scale needed to get the attention of the largest companies in the market.

Digital health startups can have trouble gaining traction with larger companies in the $4.2 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, he said. “It’s kind of like, wake me up when you have a million lives,” he said, adding that he believes Collective Health will get there. Today one company can use up to 20-30 digital solutions, and even this number is not always able to satisfy all the company’s needs and employees. We will not talk about the loss of time between switching applications and searching for information there. We support Collective Health’s approach that all data should be available from a single source. This approach allows you to save resources significantly, plus users are more willing to use such solutions since they do not need to remember a bunch of passwords and constantly log into different systems. The one-stop-shop solution is the most popular digital solution among enterprises. A multifunctional service unites all tools and resources in one place and provides access to workflow programs, task scheduler, video conferencing platform, staff training, and many other possibilities depending on the company’s needs. One of the main advantages of such a resource is user access to internal resources and tools from any device or anywhere globally, necessary for modern realities.

If your company already uses a dozen applications, think of a comprehensive tool like a custom OMNI portal. The solutions will take your business to the next level and open doors to new opportunities.