By Chris Ray

In the ever-changing realm of digital technology, organizations are witnessing an unprecedented expansion of their digital footprints. This expansion is not unique to large enterprises; small and medium-sized businesses SMBs are equally part of this rapid digital transformation. The challenge for all lies in managing and securing their sprawling digital ecosystem.

The proliferation of cloud services, the explosion of internet of things (IoT) devices, and the ever-growing complexity of IT infrastructure have created a vast and dynamic digital landscape. As assets multiply and diversify, they become harder to monitor and protect, leaving organizations vulnerable to cyberthreats and attacks. Attack surface management (ASM) solutions provide cyber defense through the continuous discovery of and insight into an organization’s attack surface.

In this blog, we’ll guide you through the essentials of implementing an ASM solution, offering insights applicable to a wide range of organizations. We’ll delve into how to prepare for a successful adoption, how to choose the right solution for your organization’s needs, and we’ll highlight common pitfalls and misconceptions to help you avoid potential complications. This comprehensive approach can streamline your journey towards effective ASM implementation, ensuring a smoother and more secure integration into your cybersecurity strategy.

How to Prepare for ASM Adoption

1. Conduct A Thorough Inventory of Digital Assets

ASM solutions provide an in-depth discovery of digital assets, including IPs, hostnames, domains, and social media profiles. However, prior to investing in an ASM tool, it’s valuable to conduct a more general pre-ASM inventory. This preliminary step will uncover gaps in your security framework and establish a baseline for comparison. It’s an essential exercise for understanding the current state of your digital asset management.

In doing this, you not only highlight the areas needing immediate attention, but you also set a reference point to gauge the impact and value of ASM later. This initial evaluation is crucial when it comes time to decide on whether to renew your current ASM services or look for a different solution, as it offers clear insights into whether the current ASM tool is delivering tangible benefits in terms of security enhancement and resource allocation.

2. Set Clear Objectives for ASM Implementation

Implementing an ASM solution should be guided by well-defined objectives. It’s essential to establish what you aim to achieve with an ASM solution, whether it’s enhancing visibility over the attack surface, reducing the number of vulnerabilities, or improving the response time to security incidents.

These objectives must align with the broader goals of the organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Clear objectives help in prioritizing tasks and allocating resources efficiently. They also provide a framework for evaluating the success of the ASM solution implementation, allowing for adjustments and improvements in the strategy over time.

3. Engage Stakeholders Across Departments

Successful adoption of an ASM solution requires engaging and collaborating with stakeholders across various departments. This includes IT and security teams as well as operations, human resources, and legal—departments that interact with IT systems and influence the organization’s security posture.

Effective communication and collaboration among these teams can foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness throughout the organization. Engaging stakeholders early in the process helps in understanding their needs, addressing their concerns, and ensuring their cooperation in implementing and maintaining ASM practices. This holistic approach is key to ensuring that ASM is viewed not just as a “techy solution to a technical problem,” but as an integral part of the organization’s overall risk management strategy.

By addressing these key areas in the preparatory phase, organizations can lay a strong foundation for a successful ASM solution adoption. This process ensures that the implementation aligns with the organization’s cybersecurity strategy and involves all relevant stakeholders, leading to a more resilient and secure digital environment.

Key Considerations for SMBs vs. Large Enterprises

When considering the adoption of any technology, it’s important to recognize that an organization’s needs and available resources vary significantly based on its size of business. SMBs and large enterprises have distinct challenges and priorities that influence their approach to ASM.

SMBs

  • Look for cost-effective, scalable solutions: SMBs operate with limited budgets, particularly for cybersecurity. Therefore, when adopting an ASM solution, it’s essential for SMBs to focus on solutions that are cost-effective. This means looking for solutions that offer essential features without unnecessary extras that inflate costs. Additionally, the ideal ASM tool for an SMB should meet its current needs and also be capable of scaling as the business grows. Scalability should be seamless, allowing the business to expand its ASM capabilities without significant overhauls or investments.
  • Prioritize ease of use and minimal maintenance: SMBs typically have smaller IT teams, sometimes with limited specialized cybersecurity expertise. Hence, ease of use becomes a crucial factor in ASM adoption. Tools that are user-friendly and require minimal technical skill to operate can be highly beneficial. Moreover, solutions that demand minimal maintenance are preferable, as they reduce the strain on the IT staff. Automated updates, straightforward integrations, and user-friendly interfaces can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of an ASM strategy for an SMB environment.

Large Enterprises

  • Look for scalable, flexible solutions that provide comprehensive coverage: For large enterprises, scalability is also a key consideration. These organizations are large to begin with and often grow continuously, so the ASM solution must be able to scale accordingly, handling an increasing number of assets without degradation in performance. Solutions should also be flexible and provide comprehensive coverage. Large enterprises should look for ASM solutions that offer extensive coverage across various domains, including on-premises, cloud, and mobile environments. The ability to cover the entire spectrum of digital assets ensures that the enterprise can effectively identify and manage vulnerabilities and threats across its vast and diverse attack surface.
  • Prioritize products that offer robust integration capabilities: Large enterprises often have complex IT environments with various legacy systems, cloud services, and other technologies. For effective ASM in such environments, it’s crucial to seek solutions that offer robust integration capabilities. These solutions must be able to integrate seamlessly with a wide range of existing systems and tools. This integration ensures that the ASM tool can provide comprehensive visibility and management of the attack surface, capturing the nuances and complexities of a large enterprise’s digital environment.

Common Challenges and Missteps to Avoid

Adopting an ASM solution comes with its own set of challenges and potential missteps, some of which are commonly overlooked. Understanding these pitfalls is crucial for a successful ASM implementation.

1. Underestimating the Complexity of the Organization’s Digital Assets

One of the most frequent mistakes is underestimating the complexity and diversity of the organization’s digital assets. This includes websites, APIs, cloud services, and remote devices. Organizations often fail to fully comprehend the scale and intricacy of their digital footprint, leading to gaps in their ASM strategy. A comprehensive understanding of these assets is critical for effective monitoring and protection. Without it, significant vulnerabilities may remain undetected and unaddressed.

2. Overlooking the Need for Continuous Updates and Maintenance

Another common oversight is neglecting the fluid nature of ASM. Attack surfaces are not static; they evolve constantly as new technologies are adopted and as existing systems are updated or decommissioned. Consequently, ASM is not a one-time activity but requires ongoing updates and maintenance. Organizations sometimes overlook this need for continual vigilance, leading to outdated security postures and increased risk exposure.

3. Failing to Align ASM Strategies with Business Objectives

Perhaps the most serious strategic misstep is the failure to align ASM efforts with broader business objectives. ASM solutions should not operate in a vacuum but rather be an integral part of the organization’s overall risk management and business strategy. This means ASM initiatives should support and be informed by the organization’s goals, level of risk tolerance, and operational requirements. A misalignment here can result in wasted resources, efforts that do not effectively mitigate risk, or even initiatives that inadvertently hinder business operations.

Recognizing and addressing these common challenges and missteps can significantly enhance the effectiveness of an organization’s ASM strategy, ensuring that it protects against threats and aligns with and supports the organization’s broader business goals.

Next Steps

To learn more, take a look at GigaOm’s ASM Key Criteria and Radar reports. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the market, outline the criteria you’ll want to consider in a purchase decision, and evaluate how a number of vendors perform against those decision criteria.

If you’re not yet a GigaOm subscriber, you can access the research using a free trial.

The post Best Practices for Implementing an ASM Solution appeared first on Gigaom.

Read more here:: gigaom.com/feed/