Securing Modern Assets in the Digital Transformation Age

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In the era of digital transformation, where digital is now the business strategy for both growth and efficiency, the result is massive complexity within IT environments, which creates equally great challenges and security risks without the proper visibility into the full range of assets which comprise today’s modern attack surface. 

The challenges come on different fronts. From one side, employees are increasingly bringing their own personal devices to the workplace without security in mind, expanding the organization’s attack surface. On the other, organizations must be concerned about the security of third-party contractors and agencies that have access to data in their network. 

The business itself is tearing down the digital walls to make use of flexible working practices and capitalize on cost savings from cloud-based services. The convergence of modern IT assets and IoT and operational technology (OT) such as Industrial Control Systems - safety critical infrastructure never designed to be connected devices - adds a further layer of intricacy.

To complicate things even further, add DevOps and IT teams into the mix. These teams are releasing innovation to market sometimes on a daily basis, leveraging microservices and containers to deploy new software and often behind security teams’ purview. 

The result is an elastic attack surface that’s constantly evolving and creating a massive gap in an organization’s ability to truly understand its cyber risk at any given time. We call this the Cyber Exposure gap and clearly, the bigger the gap, the greater your risk.

Traditional Tools are Failing
As more organizations embrace public cloud, mobile and DevOps, the fundamental concept of an asset changes and radically impacts how security teams do their jobs. 

Traditional security tools that were designed for the world of traditional IT - desktops and servers in an on-premise world - don’t provide CISOs with accurate and complete visibility into the entire modern attack surface to deliver the insight needed to secure these dynamic assets. 

It has become increasingly easy to deploy changes at scale into environments, but many of the changes are short-lived. The traditional approach of scanning for vulnerabilities in production is no longer enough. Teams must be able to identify and mitigate exposures during the DevOps build cycle, and prior to deployment. 

While organizations tend to focus on the ‘threat of the week’, most of the attacks exploit unpatched systems or misconfigurations - basic security hygiene that every organization knows they need to do. 

Organizations need to stop chasing the latest headline-breaking threat and instead, implement a strategic and agile security program that proactively manages cyber risk across all modern assets. 

Cyber Exposure: A Modern Approach
The single most effective way to regain control of the constantly evolving elastic attack surface is to be able to identify and assess every asset across any computing platform with live visibility. This enables organizations to understand their true level of exposure and proactively manage and reduce cyber risk. Ultimately, organizations need to be able to answer three fundamental questions:

  • How secure are we?
  • How exposed are we?
  • What can we proactively do to reduce our exposure?

Cyber Exposure includes a few distinct stages:

  • Live discovery and vulnerability assessment capabilities that encompass all traditional and modern assets, from IT to Cloud to IoT, to provide the visibility needed to determine what assets are on the network and to what extent they are secure and exposed.
  • Once this information has been collected, it needs to be mapped to the business to determine what’s important, including the asset’s business use and criticality, along with other technical data including whether the vulnerability is currently being exploited. Understanding and analyzing all of these data points together will help determine the level of risk to prioritize remediation and determine the appropriate fix. 
  • Leveraging Cyber Exposure data to drive strategic discussions and investment decisions based on quantifying the risk in the context of the business and alongside other business risks. Quantifying exposure in business terms will help drive a more productive and actionable discussion with the rest of the C-suite and Board of Directors.

Organizations must utilize security technologies that can encompass all types of assets – from traditional endpoints to emerging technologies, that can illuminate even the deepest crevices of the infrastructure to get a true understanding of cyber risk. 

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