Organizations invest significant time and money to implement a diverse array of security tools in an effort to reduce the likelihood or impact of a successful cyberattack but fail to reduce their exposure to risk. Siloed tools generate pretty reports and drive activity for security teams that provide a façade of security but don’t fundamentally improve security due to a lack of correlation and prioritization. Gartner addressed these issues in a July report—stressing the importance of a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program.
The simple fact is that existing security tools and strategies are not delivering the necessary outcomes. The attack surface that security teams must protect is getting more complex, while the threat landscape continues to expand and threat actors continue to adapt. Adding more tools without implementing a more effective overall strategy just increases the noise. That is why Gartner estimates that by 2026, organizations that prioritize their investments to build a CTEM program will be three times less likely to suffer a breach.
Many vendors have scrambled onto the bandwagon—claiming to be a CTEM solution or an exposure management platform while only actually addressing one or two facets of a Continuous Threat Exposure Management program. To clarify what CTEM is and what it takes to execute an effective CTEM program, we published an eBook: Prevent Checkmate with Continuous Threat Exposure Management.
Continuous Threat Exposure Management
So, what is CTEM, and how is it different?
The foundation of cybersecurity was built on the concept of prevention. Organizations deployed tools along the network perimeter to keep malicious code and threat actors out while keeping applications and data inside safe. Preventative tools can be marginally successful, but attacks can slip through the cracks. There are too many factors to consider and there is simply no such thing as impenetrable security.
In recent years, there has been a shift to a mentality of “assumed breach” with a focus on detection and response. The basic premise is that prevention can never defend against 100% of threats, and it is virtually inevitable that attacks will get into the environment. With that in mind, a strategy of recognizing malicious activity as quickly as possible and taking immediate action to mitigate or remediate it makes sense.
Gartner emphasized that the primary goal of cybersecurity is to reduce risk, but that preventative tools and detection and response solutions are not keeping pace with digital transformation and the expanding attack surface. It is infeasible—bordering on Quixotic—to try and fix or remediate everything, so Gartner introduced CTEM as an integrated approach to prioritize and focus on the most important risks to continually refine and improve security posture.
Rebranding and Duct Tape are Not Enough
Gartner emphasizes that CTEM is a program—not a tool—and cautions against vendors rebranding legacy tools and marketing themselves as exposure management platforms. Tools like risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM), digital risk protection service (DRPS), external attack surface management (EASM), breach and attack simulation (BAS), and others can be valuable components of a CTEM program, but they are not CTEM “platforms” in and of themselves. On the contrary, each represents one of the siloed approaches that CTEM is specifically designed to overcome and solve for.
It reminds me of the meme that goes around every couple of years that shows all of the gadgets and functions that have been replaced by the smartphone. While it’s possible to replicate the capabilities on a rudimentary level by bundling a phone, GPS, camera, eReader, MP3 player, alarm clock, calculator, stopwatch, calendar, and other tools, they would be no match for the simplicity and elegance of how those functions are integrated into the smartphone.
Similar logic applies to a CTEM program on some level. Buying or packaging the various tools that already fail to deliver the desired outcome and slapping a “CTEM” label on it won’t change anything. Implementing an effective Continuous Threat Exposure Management program takes more than just changing the verbiage on your marketing collateral or bundling a few crudely integrated tools together with duct tape and chewing gum and calling it a platform.
What is crucial for an effective CTEM program is being able to seamlessly correlate the data and telemetry from all of those tools. The goal is to harness the investment you’ve already made in infrastructure management tools and security controls to provide the decision intelligence necessary to prioritize remediation efforts and significantly reduce your exposure to material risk.
Download our CTEM eBook—Prevent Checkmate with Continuous Threat Exposure Management. After you read through it, let’s connect and talk about how Epiphany can jump start your CTEM program and help you reduce risk, reduce cost, and reduce friction.