Why Use Amass?

Why Use Amass?
4 minute read

In the contemporary digital landscape, organizations face a myriad of perpetual cyber threats. As organizations expand their digital footprints, their attack surface proportionally increases, offering cybercriminals more opportunities for exploitation. Attack Surface Management (ASM) is a proactive security approach that systematically identifies, assesses, and secures the ever-expanding points of potential exposure. Effective ASM requires detailed knowledge of one’s digital footprint and the solution for this is Amass, a powerful attack surface mapping framework.

Origins of Amass

Amass was created by Jeff Foley in 2017 as a simple command line utility to automate the reconnaissance process. Foley’s background in cybersecurity is deeply rooted in the defense industry where attack surface mapping and offensive capabilities are decades ahead of mainstream security practices. Motivated by the time-consuming and error prone nature of manual intelligence gathering, Jeff set out to create a tool that could reliably collect, track, and map attack surfaces. Initially shared with Jeff’s peers, Amass quickly caught the attention of the information security community, who encouraged him to release the tool as open source.

Today, Amass is managed by the Open Source Foundation for Application Security (OWASP). The OWASP foundation is a non-profit global initiative committed to promoting secure software practices through education, open source tools, and collaboration. As an OWASP flagship project, Amass is funded, actively maintained, and widely regarded as the most popular attack surface mapping solution.

Why Use Amass?

The notion of an “attack surface” is a core cybersecurity principle which emphasizes a system's potential points of exposure. These points make up an attack surface map, a blueprint that outlines the intersection between assets and the system's perimeter. This source of truth is useful for both defenders aiming to fortify and monitor their systems, and attackers seeking to surveil and exploit vulnerabilities. To preempt attacks, defenders are increasingly adopting an adversarial mindset, viewing their attack surfaces through the “attacker's lens.” Being aware of external cybersecurity threats and incorporating attack surface mapping has practical applications across various security domains.

Who Should Use Amass?

> Vulnerability Management

Attack surface management is an effective tool for enhancing patch efficacy. IT teams frequently encounter challenges in maintaining accurate asset inventories, potentially overlooking vulnerable devices. Because attack surfaces are dynamic, changing due to factors like organic growth, acquisitions, or misconfigurations, a consistent monitoring approach is crucial. Deploy Amass to continuously monitor digital footprints over time, enabling rapid detection and mitigation of exposed assets.

 > Security Assessments

Offensive security practitioners, such as penetration testers and red teams, test an organization's defenses by simulating attacks. A successful strategy relies on comprehensive network reconnaissance and attack surface mapping. These areas of offensive security being the underpinning of the Amass Project; providing practitioners a comprehensive list of targets prior to port scanning. In addition, valuable time can be saved by combining (amass + nmap).

 > Threat Intelligence & Threat Hunting

Threat hunters proactively search for signs of malicious activity within an organization. Attack surface mapping plays a crucial role in this process by identifying assets located in high-risk areas, helping threat hunters prioritize their efforts. When an organization’s potential targets have been identified, the information gathered by threat intelligence becomes more actionable and easier to prioritize.

 > Bug Bounty Hunting

Bug bounty programs offer monetary incentives to ethical hackers for finding and reporting vulnerabilities. Participants can gain a competitive edge in this time-sensitive field by effectively using Amass to quickly discover previously unknown assets.

Amass is continuously evolving through code contributions, features additions, and optimizations from an active global community. It has transitioned from a suite of command line utilities to a robust engine-driven framework that is well-suited for integration and scalability. Its storage components have been fundamentally rewritten to support open data standards like the Open Asset Model, a portable format designed for sharing attack surface information. With its innovative design and pioneering philosophy Amass stands at the forefront of attack surface mapping, making it a top choice for security professionals.

Why ZeroFox is Investing in Amass

At ZeroFox, we wholeheartedly endorse the principles and values championed by Amass. The expansive digital landscape calls for a proactive approach to cybersecurity, a philosophy embodied in Attack Surface Management (ASM); a method that diligently pinpoints, evaluates, and fortifies potential exposure avenues. Understanding the imperative of a thorough digital footprint comprehension, we've recognized Amass as the de facto solution, epitomizing the zenith of attack surface mapping frameworks. 

Our commitment to this vision led us to tackle the once fragmented data collection landscape, resulting in our pivotal role in pioneering the Open Asset Database. This innovation standardizes and centralizes data, making it easily integrable with the Open Asset Model. It also reaffirms our dedication not just to enhancing Amass but to uplifting the entire open source cybersecurity ecosystem. This shared commitment and vision illustrate ZeroFox's unwavering commitment to pushing the frontiers of digital protection and open collaboration.

Learn More and Download Amass

If this vision resonates with your ideals, please feel free to join the OWASP Amass Project. Your expertise and passion can be the catalyst that makes all the difference. To learn more about the Amass Project, join the community Discord Server.

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