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10 min read

Maximizing Security with Managed Attack Surface Monitoring

May 26, 2023 10:01:02 AM

In today's digital world, organizations are constantly under threat of cyber attacks. With more advanced and sophisticated threats emerging every day, it is critical for businesses to stay ahead of the curve in terms of security measures. Managed Attack Surface Monitoring (MASM) is a security approach that is gaining significant popularity, as it promises enhanced visibility, control, and protection against cyber threats. This article will explore what managed attack surface monitoring is, its benefits, and best practices for implementing it to maximize security.

  1. Understanding Attack Surface Monitoring
  2. What is Attack Surface Monitoring?
  3. The Importance of Continuous Monitoring
  4. Key Components of an Effective Monitoring System
  5. Benefits of Managed Attack Surface Monitoring
  6. Implementing Managed Attack Surface Monitoring
  7. Best Practices
  8. Future Trends in Attack Surface Monitoring
  9. Conclusion

Understanding Attack Surface Monitoring

Before delving into managed attack surface monitoring, it is necessary to understand what attack surface monitoring is and why it matters. An attack surface refers to the various entry points or vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers or other malicious actors to access an organization's systems or data. Attack surface monitoring involves the continuous and proactive monitoring of an organization's complete IT infrastructure and external assets to identify and address any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.

What is Attack Surface Monitoring?

Attack surface monitoring involves a comprehensive scanning and surveillance of an organization's systems, networks, and external assets to identify potential attack vectors. It provides visibility into the various components of an organization's digital infrastructure that could be exploited by cybercriminals. This includes identifying vulnerabilities in systems and applications, misconfigurations, outdated software versions, rogue devices, and other potential attack vectors. Attack surface monitoring is necessary because attackers continuously search for vulnerabilities that they can leverage to carry out their attacks.

For example, an attacker might exploit a vulnerability in an organization's web application to gain access to sensitive data. Attack surface monitoring can help identify such vulnerabilities before they are exploited and enable organizations to take proactive measures to address them.

The Importance of Continuous Monitoring

One of the key characteristics of attack surface monitoring is that it is a continuous process. Organizations cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to cybersecurity, as attackers are always finding new ways to breach their defenses. By continuously monitoring their attack surface, organizations can ensure that they stay ahead of the curve and address vulnerabilities before they are exploited.

Continuous monitoring also helps organizations to comply with regulatory requirements. Many regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR require organizations to implement continuous monitoring of their IT infrastructure and external assets to ensure the security of sensitive data.

Are you aware of your organization’s external attack surface? Read our guide, “Understanding Your External Attack Surface,” for more information.

Key Components of an Effective Monitoring System

An effective attack surface monitoring system comprises various components. These include vulnerability assessments, network and application scanning, security information and event management (SIEM), deep, dark, and open web threat intelligence, and security analytics. Together, these components provide a comprehensive view of an organization's entire attack surface and enable proactive identification and remediation of vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability assessments involve the identification of vulnerabilities in an organization's systems and applications. This can be done using automated tools or manual testing. Network and application scanning involves the identification of open ports, services, and applications that could be exploited by attackers. SIEM enables the collection, analysis, and correlation of security event data from various sources to identify potential security incidents. Threat intelligence involves the collection and analysis of information about potential threats and attackers. Security analytics involves the use of machine learning and other advanced techniques to identify anomalous behavior and potential security incidents.

By integrating these components into an attack surface monitoring system, organizations can gain a comprehensive view of their IT infrastructure and identify and address vulnerabilities before they are exploited by attackers.

Benefits of Managed Attack Surface Monitoring

The use of managed attack surface monitoring offers organizations several benefits when it comes to cybersecurity. In today's digital age, where cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is essential to have a robust and reliable security system in place to safeguard sensitive data and intellectual property. Below are some of the most significant benefits of managed attack surface monitoring:

Improved Visibility and Control

Managed attack surface monitoring offers organizations enhanced visibility over their IT infrastructure and external assets. This helps identify any vulnerabilities that could be exploited, which in turn enables more effective risk management. By having a comprehensive view of their attack surface, organizations can identify potential security gaps and take necessary action to address them. Additionally, organizations also gain more control over their systems, as continuous monitoring allows them to keep track of any changes to their attack surface and take necessary action.

For example, if a new application is added to the network, managed attack surface monitoring can detect it and alert the security team. This enables them to assess the application's security posture and take necessary steps to ensure that it is secure and does not pose a risk to the organization's overall security posture.

Proactive Threat Detection and Mitigation

By scanning for potential vulnerabilities in real-time, managed attack surface monitoring can proactively detect and respond to cyber threats. This includes identifying unknown threats and zero-day vulnerabilities that other security solutions may miss. It allows organizations to mitigate potential damage from attacks before they can cause significant harm.

For instance, if a hacker tries to exploit a vulnerability in the system, managed attack surface monitoring can detect the attack and alert the security team. The team can then take necessary action to mitigate the attack, such as blocking the attacker's IP address or isolating the affected system from the network.

Streamlined Security Operations

Managed attack surface monitoring systems can also streamline security operations by reducing the number of false positives. This helps reduce the workload of security teams and allows them to focus on critical security tasks. Additionally, continuous monitoring also helps reduce incident response times, allowing security teams to respond to threats faster and more effectively.

For example, if a security alert is triggered, managed attack surface monitoring can provide the security team with detailed information about the alert, including the severity of the threat, the affected system, and the recommended course of action. This helps the team respond to the threat quickly and effectively, without wasting time on false positives.

Enhanced Compliance and Reporting

Managed attack surface monitoring can also help organizations remain compliant with industry regulations and standards. It provides ongoing attestation that the organization's systems are secure and that the appropriate measures are in place to protect sensitive data. Additionally, it can produce detailed compliance reports that can be used for audits and other regulatory purposes.

For instance, if an organization needs to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), managed attack surface monitoring can help ensure that the organization's systems are secure and that the appropriate controls are in place to protect cardholder data. It can also produce compliance reports that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the standard during audits.

In conclusion, managed attack surface monitoring is an essential tool for organizations looking to enhance their cybersecurity posture. It offers improved visibility and control, proactive threat detection and mitigation, streamlined security operations, and enhanced compliance and reporting. By investing in a managed attack surface monitoring solution, organizations can safeguard their sensitive data and intellectual property from cyber threats and ensure that they remain compliant with industry regulations and standards.

Implementing Managed Attack Surface Monitoring

Implementing managed attack surface monitoring requires careful planning and execution. Attack surface monitoring is the process of identifying and monitoring all the ways an attacker could gain access to your organization's sensitive data or systems. This includes identifying vulnerabilities in your network, web applications, and cloud infrastructure.

Below are some of the key steps involved in implementing managed attack surface monitoring:

Assessing Your Current Security Posture

Before implementing managed attack surface monitoring, it is essential to assess your organization's current security posture. This includes identifying any gaps in your security defenses and establishing a baseline for your current attack surface. A thorough security assessment will help you identify the areas that require the most attention and ensure that you select the appropriate managed security service provider.

The security assessment should include a review of your organization's policies, procedures, and technical controls. It should also include vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to identify any weaknesses in your network and applications.

Selecting the Right Managed Security Service Provider

When selecting a managed security service provider for attack surface monitoring, it is essential to consider their experience, expertise, and track record of success. The provider should have a deep understanding of your organization's specific security needs and offer tailored solutions to address them.

You should also consider the provider's ability to integrate with your existing security solutions. The provider should be able to work seamlessly with your security team and provide real-time alerts and reports.

It is also important to consider the provider's compliance with industry standards and regulations, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.

Integrating Managed Monitoring into Your Security Strategy

Integration with existing security solutions is critical to the success of managed attack surface monitoring. It should be integrated with the organization's SIEM, threat intelligence, and other security analytics tools to provide comprehensive protection against cyber threats.

The managed security service provider should work closely with your security team to ensure that the monitoring solution is configured correctly and that alerts are properly prioritized. The provider should also provide regular reports and recommendations for improving your organization's security posture.

It is important to remember that managed attack surface monitoring is not a one-time event. It requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure that your organization's security defenses remain effective against evolving cyber threats.

By following these steps and working with a trusted managed security service provider, you can implement effective attack surface monitoring to protect your organization's sensitive data and systems.

Want to learn more about how security providers use the intelligence cycle to protect their clients? Check out our guide, “Understanding the Intelligence Cycle.”

Best Practices for Maximizing Security

Below are some best practices for maximizing security with managed attack surface monitoring:

Regularly Update and Patch Systems

Updating and patching systems is critical to ensuring that they remain secure. It is essential to regularly update software and firmware to address known vulnerabilities and ensure that your systems are protected against the latest threats.

Implement Strong Access Controls

Implementing strong access controls is essential in preventing unauthorized access to your systems and data. This includes implementing password policies, multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and other access controls that limit access to authorized users only.

Train Employees on Security Awareness

Employees are often the weakest link in an organization's security defense. It is essential to train employees on security awareness and best practices to minimize the risk of human error and prevent attackers from exploiting them.

Conduct Regular Security Audits and Assessments

Finally, conducting regular security audits and assessments is critical to ensuring that your organization's attack surface remains secure. This includes conducting penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and other security audits to identify potential risks and address them proactively.

For more tips on maximizing security, download our guide, “Protecting Your Organization From Cyber Threats,” here.

Future Trends in Attack Surface Monitoring

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, attack surface monitoring is also undergoing significant advancements to keep pace with emerging threats and challenges. Several key technologies, methodologies, and trends are shaping the future of attack surface monitoring, offering organizations enhanced capabilities to detect and mitigate potential vulnerabilities. Let's explore some of these trends:

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Machine learning and AI are revolutionizing attack surface monitoring by enabling more intelligent and automated threat detection. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and detect anomalies that may indicate potential security risks. Machine learning algorithms can continuously learn from new data to improve accuracy and efficiency, assisting security teams in proactively monitoring and securing their attack surfaces.

Automation and Orchestration:

Automation plays a crucial role in streamlining attack surface monitoring processes. By automating tasks such as asset discovery, vulnerability scanning, and threat intelligence integration, organizations can achieve more efficient and consistent monitoring practices. Automated workflows and orchestration allow for faster identification and response to potential threats, minimizing the risk of security breaches.

Integration with Threat Intelligence:

Integrating attack surface monitoring with threat intelligence feeds provides organizations with valuable contextual information about potential risks. By leveraging external threat intelligence sources, organizations can enhance their understanding of emerging threats, vulnerabilities, and attack techniques. This integration enables proactive monitoring, threat hunting, and faster incident response, ultimately strengthening the security posture of the attack surface.

Continuous Monitoring and Real-time Alerts:

Traditional periodic assessments are gradually being replaced by continuous monitoring strategies. Continuous monitoring involves real-time or near-real-time visibility into the attack surface, allowing organizations to detect and respond to threats promptly. Real-time alerts and notifications enable security teams to take immediate action, mitigating risks and reducing the potential impact of security incidents.

Expanded Scope of Attack Surface:

With the rapid adoption of cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT), and interconnected systems, the attack surface of organizations is expanding significantly. Future trends in attack surface monitoring will encompass a broader scope, covering not only traditional IT infrastructure but also cloud environments, third-party integrations, mobile applications, and connected devices. This comprehensive approach ensures that no potential vulnerabilities go unnoticed, regardless of the digital assets involved.

Advanced Visualization and Reporting:

To improve the effectiveness of attack surface monitoring, advanced visualization techniques and intuitive reporting are gaining prominence. Visual representations of the attack surface, network maps, and interactive dashboards provide security teams with clear insights into their digital landscape. These visualizations facilitate better decision-making, identify trends, and communicate security posture effectively to stakeholders.

By leveraging these emerging technologies and methodologies, organizations can proactively identify vulnerabilities, respond to threats efficiently, and enhance their overall cybersecurity posture. Staying informed about these trends and adopting relevant solutions will be crucial to maintaining robust attack surface monitoring practices in the evolving threat landscape.


Managed attack surface monitoring is an effective approach to securing an organization's digital infrastructure. By providing enhanced visibility, control, and proactive protection against cyber threats, it offers organizations a comprehensive security solution. However, implementing managed attack surface monitoring requires careful planning and execution, as well as adherence to best practices for maximizing security. By following these best practices, organizations can ensure that their attack surface remains secure and protected against potential cyber threats.

Topics: Blog

Written by Editorial Team