Welcome back to our exploration of Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM).
In Part 1, we discussed what CTEM is and why we need it.
In Part 2, we focus on the process's cornerstone: scoping.
In Part 3, we delved into the core of the process: discovery.
Today, next step is tthe crucial phase of Prioritization within the CTEM framework.
Understanding the Significance of Prioritization
Once an organization has identified its digital assets the Scoping and Discovery phases, the next critical step is Prioritization.
Imagine that an average organization has hundreds of internet-faced assets: domains, IP addresses, and subdomains. These assets cover all digital operations mail, cloud apps, websites, mobile app backend, VPN services and more.
Let's think about these 4 pieces of information related to prioritization:
- There will be a lot of information related to these assets: technologies, ports, services, and any attack vectors.
- Also as you can imagine, the risk of assets can change according to an organization's business processes.
- And, there will be vulnerabilities that an attacker can exploit if it is not today, it can be tomorrow.
- Last but not least, human resources are finite, and security teams must prioritize their efforts.
So we are close to understanding why prioritization is the key. The main question is where we should protect first.
The Purpose of Prioritization
Taking into account all these factors, it is evident that prioritization is crucial in CTEM.
The primary purpose of prioritization is to create a task list to reduce risk efficiency.
This enables organizations to optimally allocate their resources, ensuring effective utilization.
Prioritization helps organizations determine which assets are most critical and need the highest level of protection. It involves evaluating the potential impact of a cyberattack on each asset and assigning a level of priority based on its importance to the organization.
The Process of Prioritization in CTEM
Prioritization in CTEM is an ongoing process that involves continually assessing, ranking, and selecting which assets require immediate attention based on their potential risk exposure.
This step involves evaluating and ranking the identified threats based on their severity, potential impact on the business, and the level of risk they pose.
- Urgency: Assessing the urgency of addressing a particular threat is fundamental. Some vulnerabilities or exposures may require immediate attention to mitigate potential damage.
- Security: The level of security a threat compromises is a crucial consideration. Prioritization involves evaluating the potential impact on the organization's overall security posture.
- Availability of Compensating Controls: It is crucial to assess the presence of any existing compensating controls and their effectiveness. This helps in assessing the feasibility of mitigating a threat and reducing its potential impact.
- Tolerance for Residual Attack Surface: The residual attack surface refers to the vulnerable portion of an organization's assets that remains even after implementing security measures. It represents the exposed areas or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. Organizations differ in their tolerance for residual attack surface. Prioritization aligns with the organization's risk appetite, ensuring that efforts are directed towards areas with lower tolerance.
Tools and Techniques:
- Automated Risk Scoring: Leveraging automated tools (in security for everyone we have severity scoring for vulnerabilites and planning to add progressive risk scoring system in 2024 Q2) streamlines the prioritization process. These tools assign scores based on predefined criteria, ensuring a swift and data-driven approach to prioritizing threats.
- Integration of Threat Intelligence: Real-time threat intelligence integration aids in staying abreast of emerging threats. This ensures that prioritization is dynamic, adjusting to the evolving threat landscape.
- Continuous Monitoring: Prioritization is an ongoing process. Continuous monitoring allows for regular reassessment, ensuring that priorities are adjusted based on the changing dynamics of cyber threats.
Challenges and Considerations:
- Resource Allocation: Allocating resources effectively is a constant challenge. Striking a balance between addressing immediate high-priority threats and implementing proactive measures for long-term security is essential. That is why security for everyone uses an AI-based approach to prioritize threats.
- Dynamic Nature of Threats: The threat landscape is dynamic, with new vulnerabilities emerging regularly. Prioritization strategies need to be adaptable to address evolving threats effectively.
In essence, prioritization within the CTEM program is a strategic exercise, aligning the organization's efforts with the ever-changing threat landscape. It's a dynamic and ongoing process that ensures resources are channeled where they matter the most, fortifying the organization against the exposures that could have the most significant impact.
Stay tuned for more insights as we continue our exploration of the CTEM program in the upcoming blog posts. Your commitment to understanding and implementing robust cybersecurity practices is commendable.