ASM: what is it, where to use it, and how can it prevent cyber attacks?

Attack Surface Management (ASM) is one of the main strategies in cybersecurity and helps organisations identify and monitor possible threats.

Apr 11, 2022

As cybercrime rises worldwide, with ransomware costing more to companies, both in terms of monetary value but also concerning reputation costs, all tools are essential in the fight against these online criminal organisations.  

One emerging technology used to identify internet and attacker-exposed IT assets is called Attack Surface Management, or ASM for short. The main idea is that it uses an external attacker's perspective to evaluate and monitor vulnerable IT assets in a company.

Some 70% of attacks are made by external threat actors, according to Verizon's Data Breach Investigation Report. This is why ASM has become one of the main priorities for security experts. 

To better understand what ASM is, it's important to know that an attack surface is the group of all the hardware, software, cloud assets, SaaS and other types of assets that are accessible via the internet and, therefore, that a criminal could use to try and breach security to steal or attack sensitive data. 

An attack surface, and therefore its analysis, is different from an attack vector, which are the tools and methods that the criminals may use to invade a system. So while a surface could be software or cloud assets, a vector would be something like phishing tactics or malware that the hacker uses to access a company's software.


Where can you use ASM?


This cybersecurity tactic can be used in tandem with several other protection tools and methods to help your company protect data. There are several use cases for ASM, including assessing M&A and subsidiary risks, which is absolutely necessary for ever-growing companies, but also securing cloud migrations in several scenarios and, of course, preventing ransomware attacks. 

Like many other techniques, it should complement other security devices your IT teams bring. All sensitive data must be protected through cryptography so that even if tools like ASM fail to prevent a hacker attack, criminals won't get access to information.

What are the advantages of ASM?


ASM brings a critical external perspective to your cybersecurity management. The idea is to look for your vulnerabilities the same way a cybercriminal would.

It saves time and is more productive by focusing on assets that could be weaponised. With that, security teams can reduce the attack surface, securing top assets. And since ASM is an ongoing practice, and the monitoring happens continuously, it's helpful in predicting and preventing cyber threats. 

Nowadays, there are several ASM solutions with automated discovery options, an authentic attacker's perspective for better evaluation, and several other options that will help your company protect assets and monitor threats in an easy and cost-effective way.

The key is to know what you need, choose a tool that works for your company and keep your data encrypted, always - it is the best solution for worst-case scenarios.