Attack Surface Management is a Critical Solution for Data Loss Prevention

Attack Surface Management is a Critical Solution for Data Loss Prevention
6 minute read

Digital transformation is redefining the business landscape, leading to more businesses shifting to ecommerce. It's not hard to see why; with the promise of self-service provisioning, greater flexibility, reduced costs, and a greater market reach, operating your business online seems like a no-brainer.

But there's a catch. Maintaining an online business opens the door to potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Threat actors may target your organization to steal customer data like credit card numbers and account credentials. When operating an online business, if you don't have a strong data loss prevention strategy, the vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity strategy could result in you being affected by external threats.

This post will discuss how to prevent data loss with attack surface management. 

Let's dive in.

What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to tools and processes implemented to ensure that sensitive/confidential data isn't lost, accessed, or misused by unauthorized persons. Sometimes referred to as data exfiltration or data extrusion these terms broadly refer to tools and measures organizations implement to protect against data loss and data leakage.

Where are Organizations Most Vulnerable to Data Loss

Organizations are usually vulnerable to data loss from both internal threats and external threats. Internal data loss events can result from an employee accidentally exposing sensitive data or intentional malfeasance by a disgruntled employee. On the other hand, external data loss events occur due to an organization having weak data loss prevention measures. 

The types of information found in a data leak include Personally Identifiable Information (PII), financial data, intellectual property, confidential business information, and more.

Building and Maintaining Data Loss Prevention Policies

Given the worsening state of the cybersecurity threat landscape, it is crucial that businesses implement robust data loss prevention strategies to protect themselves from data leakage or data loss events. 

A strong DLP program can help your organization: 

  • Establish universal data handling and remediation policies 
  • Educate employees on the best policies and procedures for handling company data
  • Monitor, detect and block data leakage across an organization's network, endpoint, and cloud
  • Monitor incoming emails and check for suspicious hyperlinks or phishing attacks

While these functions are an important step towards protecting your company from data leaks, an even better approach involves proactively analyzing all of your organization’s internet-facing assets to head-off potential threat actors before they have a chance to strike. This approach is called Attack Surface Management.

What is Attack Surface Management

Attack surface management (ASM) refers to the continuous discovery, monitoring, evaluation, prioritization, and remediation of the attack vectors within an organization's IT infrastructure. It is based on the understanding that you can't secure something you don't know about. As such, ASM aims to ensure your organization has a comprehensive and continuously updated inventory of all its internet-facing assets and the risks associated with them.

While attack surface management is similar to asset management and asset discovery in some ways, its key difference is that it approaches threat detection and vulnerability management from the attacker's perspective. Attack surface protection, therefore, enables organizations to identify and evaluate risks posed by known assets as well as unknown and rogue components.

Mapping Your Organization's Attack Surface

An attack surface refers to the interconnected networks that a threat actor can exploit during a cyber attack. Organizations could have different attack surfaces, including: 

  • Private attack surface: This includes applications, endpoints, infrastructure elements, cloud deployments, and IoT devices that are deployed inside the organization's network and aren't exposed to the public network. 
  • External attack surface: This constitutes an organization's digital assets that live outside their network and are exposed across the internet. 
  • Physical attack surface: An organization's physical attack surface includes assets and data generally accessible to its employees with physical access to secured devices, systems, and locations. 

To map your attack surface, you need to understand what data and systems are in your organization's scope. You will also need to identify critical assets that can be deemed high-risk and other assets that can be considered low-risk. With this information, you can create a comprehensive map of your organization's attack surface. 

You can employ different techniques for mapping your organization's attack surface, including asset discovery and vulnerability intelligence. Ensure you understand all areas of vulnerability to determine where threat actors are most likely to strike.

Securing Your Attack Surface

As businesses become more digitized, so do their attack surfaces, increasing the need for them to protect their external attack surface specifically. Attack surface protection helps safeguard your external attack surface to prevent threat actors from exploiting them.

5 Ways to Optimize Attack Surface Management to Prevent Data Loss

Data loss can not only tarnish an organization's reputation, subject it to numerous lawsuits, and drive away its customers, but it can also lead to heavy financial losses. In fact, according to IBM, the global average cost of a data breach is $4.54 million. 

Savvy security teams should be optimizing their attack surface management to understand potential vulnerabilities and thereby prevent data loss. Here's a look at some of the best practices to accomplish this goal:

1. Deploying Antivirus Software

One common way threat actors exploit an organization's security vulnerabilities is by using malicious software. For example, the threat actors send phishing emails to unsuspecting employees, tricking them into opening malicious links or attachments, consequently resulting in data theft. 

Deploying antivirus software can help protect your organization from information leakage and data breaches. Antivirus software scans files and programs entering your organization's network to detect, quarantine, and delete malicious software before it can affect and damage the IT assets and infrastructure that make up your organization's attack surface.

2. Investing in Proactive Threat Intelligence 

The growing threat of data breaches and other malicious activities from threat actors has highlighted the need for organizations to implement comprehensive, proactive, and effective ways of monitoring, analyzing, and responding to potential threats. 

Threat intelligence is designed to help enterprise security teams understand the external threat landscape in order to disrupt or mitigate a security threat. Cybersecurity service providers such as ZeroFox provide their customers with threat intelligence coverage that includes both targeted threat detection and global threat analysis to enable organizations to understand where they may be vulnerable. 

These managed threat intelligence services help organizational security teams identify and disrupt targeted impersonation and brand abuse attacks before threat actors defraud their clients.

Deploying Intrusion Detection Software (IDS)

As the number of access points increases, so do the attack surfaces. To make matters worse, the threat vectors are becoming increasingly complex. As such, it is essential to take adequate measures to ensure that malicious software doesn't breach your system or network in the first place. 

An intrusion detection software can help you with this. Enterprise security teams can deploy this software to monitor the network, detect any suspicious activity that could indicate a data breach or network intrusion, and alert the activities to SecOps teams, who can take further actions to prevent your network from being breached and your data getting stolen.

4. Leveraging Adversary Disruption Capabilities

Enterprise security teams need to go above and beyond conventional takedown processes to block and dismantle adversary attacks at the source. Adversary disruption is a comprehensive approach for remediating threats that eliminates identified threats and renders the threat actors' digital infrastructure irrelevant, thereby preventing subsequent cyberattacks across various vectors. 

With adversary disruption, security teams can directly address the external threat, working with an outside vendor like ZeroFox to take down the malicious content, site, or post. As such, it empowers security teams with a proactive approach to safeguarding their external attack surface against cyberattacks.

ZeroFox Can Help Your Online Retail Business Protect Against Data Loss

Don’t wait for a data loss event to significantly impact your business. ZeroFox can help you implement sound cybersecurity strategies that protect your external attack surface and guard against data loss. 

We offer comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, including attack surface monitoring, dark web monitoring, domain protection, brand protection, and more. With our cybersecurity solutions, you can secure your digital world, ensuring your business doesn't become a victim of a data loss event.

Request a demo to experience how our cybersecurity solution can help your business prevent data loss and other security issues.

Tags: Attack Surface ManagementData Breaches

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