Ultimate guide to CAASM

Ultimate guide to CAASM

Today, security teams are burdened with many different security tools, such as network security tools, endpoint security tools, CSPM tools, IAM tools, and many more.

Though each of these tools solves a particular use case, it requires security teams to juggle between various tools, which is not only an inefficient way. Further, none of these solutions don’t give you complete visibility into your security issues. 

These point solutions are not connected with each other, thus security teams don’t have context into which issues to mitigate or remediate first. 

You cannot secure your organization unless you have visibility into all your cyber assets, not just endpoints or devices. 

CAASM solves this issue by giving you complete visibility into your IT environment. Moreover, it helps prioritize what issues to work on first based on the impact of potential breaches. 

CAASM solutions enable your security and IT teams to consolidate your existing point solutions and data into a unified view of the entire cyber asset universe.

According to Gartner, cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) is an emerging technology that provides security teams with continuous asset visibility and helps them solve vulnerability issues. 

What is CAASM?

To understand CAASM, we first need to understand:

  1. The definition of modern cyber assets
  2. What is an attack surface

So, let’s see what these are.

What is a cyber asset?

Any cyber asset that can give a cybercriminal an entry point in your IT infrastructure (also called as attack vector) act as an attack surface. 

These assets include all physical and software-defined components of an organization, for example, code repositories, SaaS applications, different instances running in your cloud environment, IAM policies, websites, software, licenses, etc.

Generally, you can classify your cyber assets into the following three types:

  • Known assets: All the assets that you already know about come under known assets. These assets were traditionally managed by security teams and visible to them by default. It includes all the assets in your asset inventory, such as websites, servers, and other dependent assets running on them.
  • Unknown assets: These assets are beyond the purview of security and IT teams. There will always be unknown assets that introduce flaws into the attack surface. This includes shadow IT or abandoned IT infrastructure that has developed without the knowledge of the IT security team. It is difficult to capture asset details of this type of assets for a growing business without the proper processes and tools.
  • Rogue assets: These include malicious infrastructure created by cyberattackers for their own benefit—for example, typosquatting domains, new websites, or mobile apps that impersonate your assets.

Apart from this, risks may originate from assets not directly under your control, for instance, assets of your partners or vendors.

Equifax is a credit monitoring company, and a vendor breach cost them $1.38 billion in 2017.

The hackers exploited a vulnerability in Apache Struts (an open-source platform used for building web apps) to get access to sensitive data (i.e., name, social security number, date of birth, address, driving license and verdict card number) of approximately 147 million users. 

Unlike traditional cybersecurity solutions, CAASM is not limited to just devices, servers, applications, endpoints, or users. This is because all of these can give hackers access to your systems, which brings us to our next point.

What is an attack surface?

The higher the number of assets you have, the larger your attack surface would be.

Now that we understand an attack surface and how it increases vulnerability, let’s learn more about attack surface management.

What is cyber assets attack surface management?

Attack surface management is the process of preventing and mitigating risks from all your cyber assets. It includes continuously detecting, monitoring, and managing all internet-connected internal and external assets for potential attack vectors, exposures, and risks.

Key Benefits of Implementing CAASM

CAASM solutions reduce the security complexity of organizations and simplify the implementation of security programs.

1. Get a real-time view of all your asset inventory

CAASM solutions help security teams to get a complete inventory of all internal and external cyber assets via API integrations with other tools already existing in the organization.

The number of cyber assets in a mid-size organization (employees size 200 – 1000) goes in tens of thousands, making it challenging to keep up with an up-to-date inventory.

CAASM is a complete, credible, up-to-date solution to build and track your asset inventory. It automates your asset inventory management and provides a centralized dashboard with every detail. 

Other tools have failed at this. 

  • Traditional solutions like spreadsheets are not enough for creating and maintaining modern asset inventory due to their fast-changing nature. The sheer volume of cyber assets in organizations today makes it impossible for these solutions to build an updated asset inventory.
  • Other issues with these traditional (often agent-based) tools are that they are not only difficult to deploy but are liable to many issues, like being disabled or can become corrupted. This will lead to inaccurate data.
  • Another problem is that they are point-in-time solutions, which means, they represent a snapshot of a particular time and miss transient assets information.

The reasons why it’s difficult to do with age-old tools made for on-prem world are:

  • As the attack surface is constantly changing due to the adoption of the remote work environment, security teams need to be aware of all the cyber assets in the organization to prevent data breaches. The number of assets changes very rapidly. So, it’s high time we need a real-time monitoring solution. 
  • These age-old tools are incapable of discovering shadow IT, for example, SaaS apps. Many companies now store their customers’, employees’, IP, and other sensitive data in SaaS applications. So, you also need an inventory of SaaS apps, not just devices. As we have seen in the above sections, the modern definition of cyber assets includes code repositories, mobile devices, etc.

2. Quick answers to your security questions

CAASM tools automatically discover cyber assets and provide a unified view of all the assets. They consolidate data of assets from different tools, allowing you to query across all data sources. 

Furthermore, CAASM tools enable organizations to ask questions that extend various data sources. Security and IT teams can work with the same data set by integrating data from several sources into a single consolidated view.

It helps you get answer of questions like with single pane of glass: 

  • What are your most risky cyber assets?
  • What accounts in your cloud environment are most vulnerable?
  • How a potential vulnerability can be exploited to cause damage to other assets
  • Total count of known and unknown cyber assets in your organization
  • Blast radius for vulnerable cyber assets 

You can plan how to respond to a security breach incident with these questions. 

3. Eliminate screen and alerts fatigue

CAASM platforms eliminate the hassle of going through multiple security tools. They consolidate data from different sources into one centralized dashboard and reduce the effort and attention required to see information in multiple tools. 

The CAASM tool is your single source of truth for all the information you need to understand your organization’s security and compliance posture. 

CAASM solves the challenges of too many tools, too many alerts, and too little time. 

Currently, security teams face the problem of multiple sources of risks from various security tools. Hence it is difficult to prioritize these risks due to a lack of context. 

According to an IBM survey, approx 60% of companies have more than 30 security tools–a huge number.

Furthermore, in the same survey, 37% of the respondents said they have too many security solutions and technologies for cybersecurity.

CAASM solutions solve this problem by giving you deep insights into risks organization-wide. This is unlike other point solutions like CSPM, CIEM, CWPP, and CNAPP, which give you insights into risks only within their individual scope.

The data is presented graphically for quick visualization. So, it’s easy to find exact security issues in your environment and answer security and compliance questions.

Our own CAASM tool, Scrut, eliminates screen fatigue, as you are not required to check multiple tools. 

4. Improve incident response time with context

CAASM tools help you with risk-based vulnerability management and incident response. They help you solve security issues based on context and business impact. 

A CAASM platform solves the problem of lack of context in siloed security solutions. In short, with a CAASM platform, you know what to fix first.

A CAASM platform provides context that helps you quickly zero down incidents’ causes and their impact. This helps prioritize the response by solving the issues faster.

For instance, in case of any incident, you get information about

  • What systems are affected?
  • Who are the users of those systems?
  • How many other users are affected?

The above information helps you understand the incident’s impact and how to resolve it faster.

With all risk information in a single dashboard, acting on vulnerabilities and incidents is efficient due to the full context of the incident.

A CAASM solution also helps security teams prioritize what issues to resolve first based on the potential damage they can cause.

Let’s see how it works with the example of Scrut. With Scrut, you can continuously monitor your cyber asset landscape for issues affecting critical business assets and infrastructure.

Scrut allows you to concentrate on the issues that are important to you. Therefore, remediation becomes easy.

Scrut provides you with a single pane of glass for all the risks. These risks come with a status that helps you prioritize what to work on first.

Status

  • Danger – Most critical issues. Work on these first. 
  • Warning – After working on the issues marked as danger, next, you can work on these. 
  • Low – These risks should be worked on last.
  • Ignored – You can override any status to ignore.
  • Compliant – Everything is fine.

5. Continuous Compliance

CAASM tools continuously collect evidence from your cyber assets and help you understand the compliance posture against different frameworks, such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, CCPA, GDPR, and more. 

If there are any issues, for example, misconfigurations in your AWS account, it will notify you as we have seen above. Then, you can do remediation. 

With continuous security monitoring, you don’t just remain compliant in a point of time, but compliance is a by-product of your strong security posture. 

Key features of CAASM tools

We have listed the best CAASM tools in the industry. Most of the tools share these features: (//link to CAASM vendors once published)

1. Asset data discovery

CAASM solves the issues of asset data discovery. Otherwise, you are required to aggregate data from many sources manually, which is very time consuming. 

CAASM tools give full visibility of your organization’s asset universe and discover all asset data. They integrate with 3rd party tools to discover assets across your distributed environment, regardless of where they reside. 

CAASM solution helps you to efficiently manage all the internal and external assets and acts as a single source of truth for asset data. By discovering and consolidating all of your cyber assets continuously, CAASM automatically creates a complete and up-to-date asset inventory. 

With the recent shift to the cloud, the assets, and subsequently the attack surface, are constantly changing. 

Some CAASM solutions, like Scrut, go one step further and consolidate and normalize asset data across distributed, multi-cloud environments. 

Having complete visibility of your assets is important because each of these assets can give attackers an entry point into your organization. You cannot just create the inventory once and update it monthly; you need to update it in real time, as the asset data quickly changes.

In short, CAASM gives you a centralized view of all cloud entities to identify critical business assets, and prioritize risks across your public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

2. Attack surface management 

CAASM tools help you in tracking your cyber attack surface with an interactive visual asset map. (See the screenshot below of Scrut CAASM)

You can maintain a single view of your attack surface area by ingesting data from your existing security tools, controls, and databases.

With increasing cyber assets, your threat landscape is bound to grow due to factors like distributed work environment, cloud technology, SaaS sprawl, etc.

CAASM tools continuously identify, map, and analyze ever-spreading attack surfaces to prevent attackers from accessing sensitive information. Basically, CAASM solutions are helping you with minimizing your risk exposure. 

In Gartner‘s terms, every organization needs to have visibility into any deficiencies in security hygiene to maintain a strong security posture.  

3. Derive meaningful contextual insights

Generally, all attacks take place in a similar manner.  The attacker(s) find a vulnerable system that security teams ignore because it is not a very critical asset. Once attackers get into your systems via these vulnerable systems, they can quickly escalate their privileges via connected systems till they reach something of high value. 

To sum up, data breaches can happen because security teams lack context around how these ‘not very critical assets’ are connected to other assets—some of which might lead the attacker to critical assets. 

CAASM tools help you derive meaningful contextual insights between cyber assets. A cyber asset attack surface management tool stores your organization’s cyber asset data—and the relationship data between those assets. This data helps you to gain deeper security insights based on contextual knowledge.

The data is presented in a graphical manner for quick visualization. So, it’s easy to find exact security issues in your environment, and answer security and compliance questions.

Scrut CAASM

Scrut offers easy-to-understand (visual) reports that make it easy for security teams

There are so many critical issues you can’t resolve all at once. CAASM solutions help security teams identify and prioritize critical risks. You can continuously monitor your cyber asset landscape for business-critical assets and infrastructure issues. 

Take a look at this screenshot from Scrut. It allows you to concentrate on the issues that are important to you.

4. Compliance assessment & auditing 

Companies must follow specific regulations and compliances to operate in different geographies based on their industries. 

CAASM tools give complete visibility across your organization’s assets, such as code repos, networks, users, devices, and more. This helps your IT and security teams to pinpoint the issues and proactively address them to avoid any data breaches. 

The platform provides alerts based on data-driven rules to help you identify problems and monitor compliance drift in your environment. 

Furthermore, it enables you to stay in continuous compliance with different security and privacy frameworks, like SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.

CAASM helps automate your compliance processes in the following ways: 

  • Helps you with building and automating robust policies, procedures, and controls, which are inline with your compliance requirements.
  • CAASM helps monitor and spot gaps in your compliance posture. So, you can quickly remediate and pass audits in one attempt. 
  • Collects evidence from different sources to ensure that you’re compliant with these frameworks.

See how Scrut makes getting and staying compliant a breeze. 

How does CAASM work? 

The foundation of CAASM is risk observability. But just knowing what assets you have is not enough. Unless you know how different assets are related to each other, it is extremely difficult to completely eliminate potential security threats. 

A CAASM platform collects and analyzes data from cloud service providers, IAM policies, code repos, security controls, SaaS apps, vulnerability findings, and more to help you get a complete view of your cyber assets. 

Not all the CAASM tools are created equal. Though we can’t talk about every tool’s detailed working capabilities, the basic structure is as follows. 

Scrut connects to your existing cloud and on-premises data sources using agentless connectors.

  • Asset discovery: Scrut CAASM solution integrates with third-party tools to identify assets across your distributive environment. The platform assists you in discovering and consolidating all of your cyber assets.
  • Risk identification: It identifies critical assets that are highly risky, thus helping you prioritize those risks. With risk assessments, you can check the severity of the risks and mitigates them before they become a threat to your organization.
  • Implementing controls: Scrut CAASM implements the required security and compliance controls once essential assets are visible.
  • Creating mitigation tasks: After that Scrut CAASM helps you to create, assign, and track mitigation tasks from start to end.

Getting Started with CAASM

A general aversion to implementing new security technologies is not uncommon among teams already coping with an abundance of security measures.

However, CAASM is not just another security tool. Its true benefit is in the company-wide security insights it delivers. 

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