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What is Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)?

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"By 2026, organizations prioritizing their security investments based on a continuous exposure management program will be three times less likely to suffer from a breach." - Gartner

Gartner's prediction highlights the importance of adopting Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) for organizations aiming to stay ahead of the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. 

As introduced by Gartner in their July 2022 report, CTEM emphasizes a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that continuously identifies, assesses, and mitigates potential threats and vulnerabilities. This strategic shift can mean the difference between safeguarding valuable digital assets and facing significant risks for organizations that fail to adopt it.

In this article, we'll delve into the crucial elements of Continuous Threat Exposure Management and its vital role in today's dynamic business environment. Let’s explore how implementing CTEM can help your organization minimize the risk of data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.

What is Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)?

CTEM, or Continuous Threat Exposure Management, is an all-encompassing, forward-looking approach to cybersecurity that emphasizes the ongoing identification, evaluation, and mitigation of potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities. This method enables organizations to proactively address the rapidly changing cyber threat environment, safeguarding their valuable digital resources and minimizing the risk of cyber incidents.

By incorporating CTEM, businesses can avert potential data breaches, financial losses, and damage to their reputation, while ensuring they are always one step ahead of cyber adversaries.

CTEM Gartner

Why You Should Implement CTEM

Implementing Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) is important for several reasons:

  • Evolving cyber threats landscape

The cyber threat landscape is continuously evolving, with new threats and vulnerabilities emerging at an alarming rate. Implementing CTEM enables organizations to proactively identify, assess, and mitigate these risks, staying ahead of adversaries and reducing the likelihood of successful attacks.

  • Protecting critical assets and data

Organizations hold valuable digital assets, including sensitive customer data, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure. Implementing CTEM helps protect these assets by ensuring that potential vulnerabilities are detected and remediated before they can be exploited.

  • Regulatory compliance

Various industries are subject to strict regulations regarding data privacy and security. Implementing a CTEM program helps organizations maintain continuous compliance by demonstrating that they are taking a proactive approach to managing cyber risks and protecting sensitive data.

Data breaches and cyber attacks can result in significant financial losses, legal liabilities, and damage to an organization's reputation. Implementing CTEM helps minimize these risks by reducing the likelihood of successful attacks and ensuring that potential incidents are detected and addressed promptly.

  • Improving security posture and resilience

A robust CTEM program helps organizations develop a comprehensive understanding of their security posture, allowing them to prioritize resources and focus on the most critical threats and vulnerabilities. This results in a more resilient organization, better equipped to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber-attacks.

The Five Stages of a CTEM Program

five stages of continuous threat exposure management

1. Scoping

The scoping stage forms the foundation of the CTEM program. Security teams should engage with various stakeholders, including IT, legal, compliance, and business units, to understand their specific requirements and concerns. Key activities in this stage include:

  • Identifying critical assets, systems, and networks that need protection.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the CTEM program.
  • Assessing the organization's risk appetite and tolerance.
  • Considering various risk factors such as external attack surface, digital risk, supply chain security, cloud infrastructure, and deep and dark web exposure.

2. Discovery

The discovery stage involves creating a comprehensive inventory of the organization's assets and risk profiles. Security teams should focus on the following tasks:

  • Mapping assets, including hardware, software, networks, and data repositories.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and potential attack vectors.
  • Assessing the organization's current security posture and technology stack.
  • Evaluating the organization's risk exposure based on the previously defined risk appetite and tolerance.

3. Prioritization

In the prioritization stage, security teams identify and rank the threats that pose the highest risk to the organization. Key activities in this stage include:

  • Analyzing the likelihood and potential impact of each identified threat and vulnerability.
  • Evaluating the exploitability of vulnerabilities based on factors such as existing security controls, topology, and threat intelligence.
  • Prioritizing threats and vulnerabilities based on the level of risk they pose to the organization.
  • Aligning prioritization efforts with business objectives and resource constraints.

4. Validation

The validation stage involves assessing the organization's exposure and the effectiveness of existing security controls. Key tasks in this stage include:

  • Conducting controlled simulated or emulated attacks to validate exposure and the effectiveness of security controls.
  • Testing initial foothold gains, various attack paths, and lateral movements within the organization's environment.
  • Evaluating the organization's response and remediation capabilities in the face of a simulated attack.
  • Identifying areas of improvement and adjusting security controls and processes accordingly.

5. Mobilization

The final stage of a CTEM program, mobilization, focuses on operationalizing the findings and implementing necessary measures to mitigate identified threats and vulnerabilities. Key activities in this stage include:

  • Developing a defined process for addressing threats and vulnerabilities with minimal friction.
  • Streamlining communication and collaboration between security teams, IT, and other stakeholders to ensure timely and effective response to threats.
  • Merging security automation with IT process automation to maximize efficiency.
  • Establishing ongoing monitoring and improvement processes to track the effectiveness of implemented measures and make adjustments as needed.

Implementing Continuous Threat Exposure Management

To effectively implement a Continuous Threat Exposure Management strategy, organizations need to take several key steps:

1. Assemble a dedicated cybersecurity team

Form a specialized team responsible for threat intelligence, vulnerability assessment, and incident response. This team should include professionals with diverse skill sets, such as security analysts, ethical hackers, and incident responders, to address various aspects of the organization's cybersecurity needs.

2. Integrate threat intelligence and vulnerability assessments

Combine threat intelligence and vulnerability assessment efforts to create a holistic view of the organization's risk landscape. This integration allows for a more accurate prioritization of remediation efforts, ensuring that resources are allocated to the most pressing threats and vulnerabilities.

3. Develop a comprehensive incident response plan

Create and regularly update an incident response plan that outlines procedures for detecting, containing, and recovering from cyber incidents. This plan should be tailored to the organization's specific needs and include clear roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and steps for escalation and resolution.

4. Conduct regular security audits and assessments

Perform periodic security audits and assessments to identify potential weaknesses in the organization's security posture. This proactive approach helps to uncover vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by adversaries, allowing the organization to take corrective action promptly.

5. Implement continuous monitoring and improvement

Establish a continuous monitoring process to track the effectiveness of security controls and identify areas for improvement. This process should involve analyzing the latest threat intelligence, evaluating the organization's adherence to best practices, and adjusting security controls and processes as needed.

6. Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness

Promote a culture of cybersecurity awareness among all employees by providing regular training and resources. Educating employees about the latest threats, best practices, and their role in protecting the organization's digital assets is crucial for maintaining a strong security posture.

Resmo and Continuous Threat Exposure Management

According to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach report, 45% of data breaches are cloud based. (Discover more cloud security stats)

Resmo is a powerful and innovative solution that helps organizations strengthen their Continuous Threat Exposure Management efforts, particularly in the context of cloud environments. By providing organizations with the tools and insights necessary to monitor and protect their cloud assets, Resmo plays a crucial role in maintaining a robust security posture.

Gain visibility into cloud assets

Resmo enables organizations to gain a comprehensive view of their cloud assets, ensuring that all components are accounted for and monitored. This visibility is essential for organizations to understand their overall attack surface and prioritize their security efforts.

Automatic assessment of attack surfaces

Resmo automatically scans cloud assets for potential cyber risks and vulnerabilities, providing organizations with a continuous assessment of their attack surface. This proactive approach allows organizations to identify and address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, contributing to a more resilient security posture.

Understanding asset relationships

Resmo's powerful analytics capabilities help organizations understand the relationships between their cloud assets, providing insights into potential attack paths and dependencies. This information is vital for organizations to make informed decisions about resource allocation, risk mitigation, and overall security strategy.

Real-time notifications and monitoring

Resmo offers real-time notifications and monitoring capabilities, ensuring that organizations are always aware of changes in their cloud environments. By keeping organizations informed of potential risks and vulnerabilities, Resmo enables them to respond quickly and effectively to emerging threats.

By offering comprehensive visibility, automatic risk assessment, asset relationship analysis, and real-time monitoring, Resmo empowers organizations to continuously monitor their cyber assets and maintain a strong security posture. Organizations can effectively safeguard their valuable digital assets and achieve long-term success in an increasingly complex and interconnected digital landscape by integrating Resmo into their CTEM strategy.

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