Many companies use the Internet, cloud systems, and a variety of applications and network devices for their operations. They increase productivity and make routine tasks more efficient. However, they can also give cyberattackers points of entry into a company’s IT infrastructure. Cybersecurity professionals have to reckon with this and devise means to tackle the security risks while ensuring businesses continue to benefit from their digital assets. This exercise is called exposure management and is a crucial cybersecurity practice.
Exposure Management Explained
Exposure management in cybersecurity is the act of detecting, analyzing, and addressing the exposed parts of the digital assets in a company’s IT infrastructure. This is a proactive cybersecurity approach that businesses take because they recognize that some core components of their computer network are exposed and can be exploited by cybercriminals. This exercise aims to reduce the attack surface area and make it increasingly difficult for unauthorized parties to infiltrate the system.
Cybersecurity professionals reduce the attack surface by identifying weak points and fortifying them with passwords, firewalls, encryption, and other effective online security measures. They also conduct risk assessments to gauge the likelihood of hackers gaining inadvertent access to the system.
An exposure in a computer network is similar to a vulnerability but they are not the same thing. Exposure is a condition or attribute of a software component in a computer network that makes it possible for cyber attackers to gain access to the system. Meanwhile, a vulnerability is a weakness in a computer network that hackers can knowingly exploit to infiltrate said network.
Businesses conduct exposure management to minimize these conditions and reconfigure their digital assets to keep bad actors out. On the other hand, they manage vulnerabilities by scanning their IT infrastructure to identify them and apply patches to stop them from being exploited.
Exposure Management Best Practices
The exposure management process can significantly reduce a company’s cybersecurity risks if done properly. So, here are some best practices to follow:
- Identify the exposed parts of the network
This is the first thing a company should do when managing their exposure. They can do this by making a list of the digital assets in their IT infrastructure and assessing their level of exposure. This includes cloud servers, routers, databases, company-issued computers, software programs, and other network devices.
- Profile potential attackers
Companies should profile the kind of people likely to target their systems. This will help them determine the motives for their attacks and predict their attack behavior. An understanding of their motives and attack behavior will help companies prepare and deploy adequate security tools and strategies to deal with the exposures.
- Test defense systems
It is best for companies to regularly test their defense systems to gauge their effectiveness against real-world cyber threats. Part of the test should be a simulation of cyber attacks that are similar to the ones that will likely come from the potential attackers profiled as discussed above.
- Upgrade security measures
Cybercriminals regularly upgrade their attacks, so companies have to continuously bolster their security systems to match these emerging threats.
Exposure management is a proactive cybersecurity process that reduces the risks companies face when they use digital tools for their business operations. The process involves identifying and understanding attack surfaces so companies can develop strategies and plans to reduce exposure to cyber attackers. Part of these plans include reconfiguring digital assets, deploying new software tools, installing firewalls, optimizing current processes, and training staff to detect and avoid security incidents.