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Cosmos: Unleashing the Power of Perimeter Protection

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The world of cybersecurity is constantly changing, but there's one challenge that remains consistent: the race between those seeking to harm and those defending against them. Security teams are tirelessly working to fix vulnerabilities, patch weaknesses, and block attackers before they can strike. However, it's unfortunate that attackers have the upper hand, with ample time, tools, resources, and sheer numbers on their side.

In 2022 alone, the number of reported vulnerable exposures reached an all-time high of 26,448, with 4,135 of them classified as critical. That's a staggering 59% increase compared to the previous year. To put it into perspective, a new vulnerability is disclosed every 20 minutes on average. With these alarming figures, it's become increasingly important to continuously discover potential threats, validate their significance, and prioritize remediation efforts to minimize the window of vulnerability.

In this blog, we offer a preview of our latest report, Cosmos: Protecting the Perimeter. Download the full report for insights into:

  • The growing window of exploitability across attack surfaces
  • Why an offensive technology renaissance is not the answer
  • Six critical questions to developing a comprehensive, strategic plan
  • Lessons learned from 17,000 attack surface exposure data points
  • Calculating risk and potential business impact

By staying proactive, vigilant, and strategic, we can all stay one step ahead in the ongoing battle against cyber threats.

Increased Exploitability Across Attack Surfaces

When a software vulnerability becomes known to the public but remains unpatched, the clock starts ticking. Attackers have a chance to exploit the vulnerability before defenders and software vendors can fix it. In today's business environment, the scale of minimizing this window of opportunity is enormous. This is a critical concern for modern enterprises, as their attack surface is growing due to the increasing number of applications, third-party integrations, cloud usage, and expanding business operations. It's impossible to address every vulnerability, but organizations must prioritize minimizing the window of opportunity for vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to their business operations. Not all exposures are equal, so focus is crucial.

To add real-world context behind attackers' actions, we launched the groundbreaking 2022 SANS Survey Report: Inside the Minds & Methods of Modern Adversaries, where we delved deep into the minds and tactics of modern adversaries. With insights from over 300 expert ethical hackers specializing in external penetration testing, we uncovered a shocking reality.

Prepare to be alarmed: an astonishing 63% of these skilled individuals revealed that they can effortlessly identify a vulnerability in network perimeters in less than five hours. But that's not all. 74% of the respondents further admitted that, within the same timeframe, they could establish a firm foothold within a network through successful exploitation.

Do not underestimate the speed and proficiency of these adversaries. Arm yourself with knowledge and take proactive steps to protect your organization from their relentless attacks.

How Much Technology is Too Much?

The cybersecurity market is booming, with a renewed emphasis on prevention. While companies have focused on managed detection and response, they are now shifting their investments towards improving perimeter controls. This includes adopting offensive-focused services and technologies that align with the "think like an attacker" mindset. A few types of offensive security solutions on the rise:

  • Penetration Testing
  • External attack surface management
  • Breach and attack simulation

However, having too many solutions can be problematic for defenders. On average, organizations with 1,000 or more employees use 10 or more asset inventory systems, resulting in an overwhelming amount of time spent on triage and remediation. This not only enlarges the attack surface but also places a significant burden on vulnerability management teams, security operations centers (SOCs), and incident responders.

A Programmatic Approach to Defend Against Emerging Threats

In the ever-evolving landscape of offensive security technologies, it is crucial for security teams and leaders to adopt a comprehensive program that fortifies their security posture and attack surface – both internally and externally. While individual technologies are important, they are just pieces of a larger puzzle that must be integrated with well-planned processes executed by skilled professionals.

To truly understand how this programmatic approach works, we need to examine the key questions that must be answered. It is essential to recognize that this approach is ongoing, as attack surfaces change, new threats emerge, and numerous dynamic factors come into play. By confidently answering these six critical questions, an organization can successfully mitigate the threat of a disruptive breach. To learn more about the six critical questions we’ve identified that require a combination of people, processes, and technologies, download the report.

Six key components of attack surface protection

FIGURE 1 - Six key components of attack surface protection

Uncover What's Slipping Through the Cracks

To help our customers visualize business impacts when exposures are left to chance, we’ve analyzed data from our Cosmos solution – a fully managed service that combines attack surface management (ASM) and continuous expert-driven testing to enable organizations to focus on corrective actions to exposures that present danger to their operations. Our analysis of over 17,000 data points and 110+ billion automations provides compelling insights into the propensity for asset exploitation. In 2022, we found that on average, 1 out of every 425 publicly accessible assets is at risk. While our analysis is just the beginning, it sets the stage for discovering the real business impacts of these vulnerabilities. With this knowledge, organizations can take proactive steps to safeguard their valuable assets.

In our report, you will gain insights into:

  • Exposure categories with associated Cosmos findings percentages
  • Industry comparisons by severity and exposure distribution

Use this data to see how you stack up to industry peers that are using a mature attack surface management solution.

Secure Your Perimeter: Don't Leave Risk to Chance

There is no reason to leave perimeter risk to chance. Hackers will find a way in; it is just a matter of time. Discovering the potential impact of business risks and the associated costs of a breach can be a daunting task for industries. However, Looking Toward the Cosmos: Making the Case for Continuous Offensive Security, provides calculative methods to estimate these risks and impacts accurately.

The success of this method lies in leveraging two powerful reports - the annual Verizon DBIR report, which provides valuable data disclosure conversion percentages, and the Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach report, which offers insights into the cost per record. By combining these data points with our own critical and high exposure data, we create a foolproof recipe for uncovering the true business impact.

Neglecting to address these vulnerabilities is a risky game that organizations cannot afford to play. It leaves them vulnerable to adversaries who will inevitably triumph. By looking at the expected risk from a business impact perspective, organizations gain a strategic advantage. This approach allows them to make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively in order to fortify their defenses and protect their perimeter.

Gain the Upper Hand in the Battle Against Hackers

In the ever-changing world of cybersecurity, staying a step ahead of attackers is a tough challenge. Security teams must constantly patch vulnerabilities faster than hackers can exploit them. But by prioritizing offensive security strategies, you can gain the competitive advantage needed to swiftly identify and address vulnerabilities, protecting your critical assets and maintaining a powerful defense.

To help you in your quest for the best offensive security testing solution for your organization’s needs, we offer a definitive guide. This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions when selecting third-party vendors. Take action now to outpace, outmaneuver, and outsmart attackers, ensuring your organization is safe from even the most advanced modern hackers.

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About the author, Beth Robinson

Senior Content Writer

Beth Robinson is a Bishop Fox Senior Content Writer alumna. She joined Bishop Fox with nearly 20 years of experience focused on technical intelligence issues.

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