Exposure management in cyber security

Exposure management is an important part of any company's cyber security. Here we take a look at what it is and how you can improve it.

26-06-2023 - 6 minute read. Posted in: tips.

Exposure management in cyber security

Pretty much every business relies on technology - whether it's online or offline. Both can be exposed to cyber attacks. That's why it's important to have good exposure management, so you know how to properly handle the exposure of data and confidential information.

The important overview

To begin with, we need to understand what exposure management actually is. When you talk about exposure in cyber security, it's basically about what threats you may be exposed to in a cyber attack. This could be malware, compromised files or identity theft, for example.

A cyber exposure management plan can be developed by the IT department in your company, but you can also make use of the latest AI technologies. While you need to be careful about what information AI bases its knowledge on, it can go a long way in helping IT departments. AI can quickly scan systems and software for vulnerabilities so that IT can correct the possible entry point for the hacker.

When talking about exposure management, it's also essential to distinguish between exposure and vulnerability. In the cyber world, the two terms are used interchangeably, but you should distinguish between the two, especially when it comes to exposure management.

Vulnerability is about the different vulnerabilities you can experience in the software. These are also the ones that hackers exploit when committing cybercrime. The hacker gains direct access to a user or network by exploiting any vulnerabilities in the systems.

You can find an official list of vulnerabilities called CVE (Common Vulnerabilites and Exposure) - and these vulnerabilities are typical flaws in the software code.

  • For example, a hacker could launch a cyber attack or run malicious code through software vulnerabilities. This will spread malware that can, e.g., encrypt the files on the device under attack. Hackers often use SQL injections to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and software. If, for example, SaaS is affected, an entire company's network and data can be compromised - this applies not only to employees, but also to customer data and trust.

Exposure is about the areas within a company that are exploited by cybercriminals. Exposure gives hackers indirect access to systems - as opposed to vulnerability, which gives the hacker direct access. When talking about exposure, it is typically done through "layered" attacks. For example, the hacker starts by sending out phishing to employees and then gains access to systems when an employee falls into the phishing trap.

  • Another example would be an employee sending confidential information to the wrong recipient - either knowingly or unknowingly. Even if it's done by mistake, it's these mistakes that can lead to data leaks. And these leaks can lead to financial costs, reputational damage and harm to customers, partners and others involved in the business.

Vulnerability management

When you look at exposure management in cybersecurity, it's essentially an assessment of a company's attack surface. This is both the physical circumstances around sensitive personal data, but it's just as much the digital security. This is both software and access points in programs, etc.

With exposure management, a company can take the necessary measures to prevent hackers and cybercriminals from getting their hands on your data. Companies can mitigate cyber threats with exposure management, as well as fix any possible penetration points in the systems.

As companies move their data to cloud storage and generally use the internet for communication and various tasks, the cyber threat increases significantly. The more we use and rely on the internet, the more attack points hackers will have.

Businesses should consider their cyber security because once the damage is done, it's hard to recover - fixing a cyber attack costs time and money. You can implement vulnerability management to make it clear to all employees in a company how to manage vulnerabilities in the event of a cyber attack.

Effective and efficient exposure management can identify the biggest cybersecurity threats you face. By being aware of these, you can minimize the impact of the attack. The cyber world is constantly changing, so your exposure management needs to be up to date with the latest trends and threats.

What's it all about?

Exposure management is the process of securing data from being exposed. By having exposure management ensures that cybercriminals can't gain indirect access to files and data. You can see the entire attack surface with exposure management - with an overview of where the hacker can get through, you can secure the vulnerable points.

Be aware that exposure management is much more than an overview of the attack surface on traditional infrastructure. For example, companies can be hit in cloud storage, internal and external partners and various devices connected to the workplace.

Once a company has an overview of all potential attack surfaces and entry points to software and systems, they need to consider remediation of the potential data exposure. Such prioritization can be done based on a risk assessment, which assesses which systems are at the highest risk of being exposed and the impact a potential attack could have on them.

Reduce exposure

There are four basic elements to good exposure management:

  1. Understand the exposure. By understanding how exposure can happen, you'll have a better understanding of how to prevent it. You can be proactive in combating cyberattacks by having continuous testing - these are tests that try out a company's software and systems. If a whitehat hacker can penetrate, so can a malicious hacker.
  2. Prioritize cyber security. The cyber world is ever-changing, so the ways hackers can get to your data are also constantly changing. That's why it's important to prioritize your cybersecurity so you stay ahead of the curve and don't give hackers free rein in your software. That's why it's a good idea to have consistent exposure management checks and updates.
  3. Know how to react. If you know how to respond to potential cyber threats, you can react faster and more optimally. Documenting and recording how you respond will help others to follow suit - plus, you can also look back at how you responded and how you can optimize that response.
  4. Improving the exposure. Finally, it's important that you can improve your exposure management. By reviewing your risk assessment and incident plans, you can improve the handling of a potential exposure. It's important to review your plans often because, as mentioned, the cyber world is constantly changing. There are new methods and techniques to be aware of so you don't fall victim to a cyber attack.

By remembering the four basic elements of exposure management, you can improve and increase the chances of not falling victim to a cyber attack. Most importantly, document the incident plan and incident sequence so that you can look back at how you handled a situation at any time - and correct any mistakes you missed the first time around.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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