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Think Like an Attacker: The Importance of ASM in SaaS Cloud Security

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July 13, 2022

Cyber attackers are crawling the Internet constantly, looking for any vulnerabilities to exploit within organizations’ Internet-facing and cloud assets. Organizations and their security teams implement cloud data protection solutions, but unknown — and unsecured — assets remain. How can companies prevent and protect from attacks in a comprehensive way?

They need to think like an attacker.

The “think like an attacker” perspective is a unique but essential point of view; it’s important for organizations to secure not only the assets they know about, but to secure the unknown ones as well, as those are some of the most vulnerable assets. In fact, a recent study from Enterprise Strategy Group found that 69% of organizations have experienced at least one cyber-attack that started by exploiting an unknown, unmanaged, or poorly managed internet-facing asset.

Let’s explore why it is so important for companies to incorporate cloud data protection into their security stacks and how attack surface management (ASM) helps organizations think like an attacker to secure their assets.

Why do companies need cloud data protection?

Attackers are crawling the Internet and the cloud constantly, looking for any vulnerabilities to exploit — and the more they crawl, the more sophisticated their methods become. Think about the Internet and cloud as a large apartment building. Any external threat will be scoping out the building looking for open doors or windows. It’s impossible to keep track of ensuring all doors and windows remain locked shut since so many people inside have access to opening or closing a number of different openings. This leaves a lot of unknown gaps for an attacker to perform a successful intrusion.

On the Internet and in the cloud, attackers are similarly relentless in their search for vulnerabilities to be exploited and gain access to your company’s data. And, just like all the individuals with the ability to open and close doors and windows, your company has numerous employees with the ability to create or resolve vulnerabilities, making it very difficult for security teams to be completely aware of every asset and those who access it.

Why is the cloud high-risk?

It’s no secret to security professionals that moving to the cloud has many benefits for organizations. With those benefits, however, also comes reduced visibility into network operations and increased risk of misconfigurations and accidentally exposed assets.

With the recent trend towards digital transformation, assets are no longer solely static IP addresses. Cloud adoption has led to more assets in the ephemeral IP space, which is increasingly challenging to manage and keep a running inventory.

It’s essential for companies to implement cloud data protection solutions that not only secure the vulnerabilities that they are aware of, but also think like an attacker to identify vulnerabilities from the outside. By staying on top of asset developments, security teams can integrate new discoveries into their existing cloud security stack and implement policies to better protect their cloud data moving forward.

Cloud data protection best practices

Every company and security team is different, with intricate nuances within each of their cloud environments dictated by company priority and resources. There are some cloud data protection best practices, however, that are important for every organization regardless of cloud space details.

Know your current state of cloud security

Understanding the existing state of cloud environments will help create future controls or policies for the organization, reducing rogue cloud assets or misconfigurations. Conducting ongoing asset discovery to better understand your cloud data and network in sanctioned or unsanctioned environments.

Establish data protection policies

It’s essential for organizations of any size and industry to establish cloud data protection policies and procedures that are not only followed by security teams but every department throughout the company. Developing and distributing these policies helps foster a culture of data security company-wide, increasing the responsibility of the numerous individuals with access into cloud environments.

Apply strategies to unknown assets

Vulnerability management and cloud data protection policies are critical first steps, but they only achieve the maximum benefit if they are applied not only to the assets your team is aware of, but also to unknown assets. As the cloud becomes increasingly complex and common cloud misconfiguration mistakes create more vulnerabilities, it is essential for security teams to turn their unknown assets into known assets to perform the highest level of protection.

Enter: SaaS cloud security with Attack Surface Management

The most effective way to transform unknown assets into known assets is with cloud asset discovery through Attack Surface Management (ASM). Cloud asset discovery should be a continuous process to keep current with the dynamic assets. This is especially important for rogue cloud assets spun up by business functions, leaving misconfigurations on the organization’s Internet edge.

Censys ASM provides the essential attacker-centric view of your cloud environment, identifying and prioritizing the vulnerabilities that are most likely to be exploited. When it comes to cloud security protection, many organizations utilize cloud-specific security tools such as Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB). These solutions are often successful, but incomplete in terms of the breadth of what they protect. At Censys, we worked with Forrester to support a Fortune 100 prospect who felt confident that their company was only using nine different cloud accounts. After complementing the existing cloud security stack with ASM, we revealed they had data in 23 different accounts.

Censys partners with organizations to proactively minimize the attack surface gap by continuously discovering unknown assets and surfacing the most critical risks, empowering security teams with the tools and time needed to protect what’s truly important. Censys ASM is designed to integrate seamlessly into your existing security stack, transforming unknown assets into known assets and prioritizing them according to the attacker perspective.

Make SaaS cloud security a top priority with Censys ASM

For security and IT teams, SaaS cloud security needs to become a top priority when it comes to protecting high-security company assets and data. With the growing complexity of the cloud, many critical assets are unknown even to security teams, leaving them more vulnerable and easily exploited by attackers. Censys ASM provides an attacker-centric view of cloud data protection, turning unknown assets into known assets for more comprehensive security. To see the attacker view of your cloud and Internet assets in real-time, schedule a demo with Censys.

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