Security

Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) and the Importance of Security Audits

Home

>

Blog

>

Security

>

Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) and the Importance of Security Audits

Published: 2024/06/06

5 min read

Cybersecurity has been facing challenges over the past few months. Multiple high-profile attacks have occurred, including ALPHV’s breach of MGM Resorts International, resulting in extensive data theft and significant disruption to business operations. MGM has estimated the damage costs to be around $100 million USD. Furthermore, DP World, a ports operator in Australia, suffered from a severe ransomware attack. This attack caused a disturbance in 40% of the container trade in the country for several days. Additionally, a group of cybercriminals took advantage of a zero-day vulnerability in the GoAnywhere secure file transfer tool, leading to breaches that affected more than 130 organizations.

That is just the tip of the iceberg as numerous security breaches, ransomware attacks, and other exploits occurred last month. The 2024 Cyber Security Report provides several examples of such incidents, and the conclusion is clear – cybersecurity must be an essential aspect of every organization. The 2024 Thales Data Threat Report confirms what cybersecurity experts fear the most, with 93% of IT professionals believing security threats are increasing in volume or severity, a significant rise from 47% last year.

According to Gartner, what’s needed to counter such cybersecurity menaces is a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program, which, according to the research and consulting firm from Stamford, is the second most important strategic technology trend for 2024 (right after AI). “By 2026, organizations that prioritize their security investments based on a continuous exposure management program will be three times less likely to suffer a breach,” reads a quote from Gartner.

What is Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)?

CTEM is a comprehensive cybersecurity program that continuously monitors and manages an organization’s exposure to various threats. It doesn’t just identify vulnerabilities in your system; it uses a combination of techniques to simulate real-world attacks, assess your security posture continuously, and prioritize potential threats, ensuring you are always prepared to face any security challenges and keep your sensitive information safe.

Five crucial elements of CTEM

The process of continuous threat exposure management involves several key steps. To prevent vulnerabilities or potential threats from slipping through unnoticed and potentially harming the organization, these steps must be executed sequentially.

Element No. 1: Scope

Organizations must identify all vulnerable entry points and assets, also known as the “attack surface.” This should include more than traditional devices and applications, including intangible elements like online code repositories, corporate social media accounts, and integrated supply chain systems.

For organizations planning to implement their first CTEM initiative, they can start by considering two areas: the external attack surface and the SaaS security posture. The external attack surface has a relatively narrow scope but a growing ecosystem of tools. On the other hand, the SaaS security posture has become increasingly important due to the rise of remote workers, resulting in more critical business data being hosted on SaaS.

Element No. 2: Develop

This phase focuses on identifying visible and hidden assets, vulnerabilities, misconfiguration and other risks. One of the first challenges encountered when building a CTEM program is the confusion between scoping and discovery. Simply discovering assets and vulnerabilities in large quantities is not a sign of success in and of itself. Instead, it is more valuable to accurately scope the project based on business risk and potential impact, so that the program is concentrated on addressing the most critical areas of concern.

Element No. 3: Prioritize

Achieving perfect security isn’t the main objective when taking this step. Instead, this phase underlines the need to prioritize several elements that will protect a company from cyber threats: the urgency of the peril, the severity of the security risk, the existence of alternative safeguards, and how much attack surface you can realistically eliminate, thus lowering the thread level. By pinpointing the most crucial business assets, you can develop a targeted treatment plan that addresses your security needs.

Element No. 4: Validate

The next step focuses on thoroughly inspecting potential security flaws and confirming possible vulnerabilities to confirm what weaknesses could be exploited by the attacker. Then you need to prepare a response plan to address any incoming issues and determining a defense plan. More on this particular element of CTEM can be found later in this article.

Element No. 5: Mobilize

The final step in achieving success is to implement CTEM. This step is the most crucial one, and it requires stakeholders to promote a culture of change while reducing obstacles to approvals, implementation processes, or mitigation deployments. All departments must be onboard and fully mobilized to follow CTEM in every phase.

The importance of security audit process in CTEM

The above-mentioned fourth element of CTEM focuses on pinpointing the vulnerabilities and assessing risks, thus ensuring compliance with regulations. Such an endeavor would not be possible without security audits.

Cybersecurity audits assess an organization’s defenses against cyber threats in a comprehensive manner. What are the phases of a security audit?

Phase one: Set security policies to define objectives, standards, and guidelines.

Phase two: Recognize, evaluate, and reduce potential threats to the company’s resources.

Phase three: Ensure all regulatory requirements, industry standards, and internal policies are complied with.

Phase four: Educate employees on best practices, policies, and procedures to enhance their awareness of security threats.

Phase five: Deploy tools to monitor and analyze network traffic, system logs, and data.

Phase six: Develop and execute a secure IT infrastructure architecture for your organization, encompassing networks, servers, and applications.

For a comprehensive assessment of a company’s security status and actionable recommendations for improvement, it is crucial to select the right team of security professionals. With an approach tailored to your specific requirements, a dedicated security team offers customized solutions that meet your security needs and budgetary constraints. Thanks to conducting comprehensive risk assessments, these security experts will enable your company to stay ahead of potential threats and safeguard your valuable assets.

 


Data security in genAI webinar

You need to stay prepared

According to Aleksandr Yampolskiy, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SecurityScorecard, the cybersecurity industry is anticipated to witness unprecedented data breaches in 2024. 2023 saw a significant increase in global data breaches compared to previous years, with a 72% hike in data compromises, surpassing the highest number recorded in 2022.

Phishing attempts have evolved significantly. It was easier to spot phishing in the past because the text was often written in a different language, had grammatical errors, or seemed out of context. However, even then, some people still fell victim to such attacks. Nowadays, phishing attacks are much more sophisticated. They involve a series of planned steps and are carried out with anticipation several steps ahead. Attackers may use AI to analyze correspondence to understand the context and determine who is responsible for what within an organization. This information is then used to establish credibility when launching an attack. AI may also generate texts that mimic the nature and style of correspondence typically used by the other individuals in our organization, adding a layer of false trustworthiness to the attack. This is not something from a movie –it is happening on a daily basis. IBM believes that the rise of AI will encourage cybercriminals to invest in developing cost-effective tools to attack AI technologies. Adhering to Continuous Threat Exposure Management and conducting comprehensive security audits seems more critical than ever before.

Secure your organization with the help of experienced professionals who can perform security audits in accordance with the highest security standards in order to prevent cyber threats and breaches. If you would like more information about the best security practices, please use this form to contact our team.

About the authorWojciech Kozak

Software Delivery Director

A Software Delivery Director with over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry who has spent the past 15 years working with the largest Polish TELCO Operators. Wojtek combines a technical background in application development services with wide business knowledge, especially in regards to the telecommunication industry. His extensive experience and passion enable him to effectively manage development teams that implement ambitious projects with high quality.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter

Most popular posts