Background Half Wave
Application Security

What is exposure management?

Exposure management identifies, assesses, and addresses potential security risks that could lead to digital compromise. Effective exposure management reduces an organization's digital attack surface, making it more difficult for attackers to gain network access.

Key processes in exposure management

Exposure management involves the following four key processes:

1. Discovery

Organizations should assess their current vulnerability management and threat exposure practices to build a more comprehensive security strategy. Teams use various software tools to discover and inventory all externally facing applications and resources to get deeper insight.

2. Assessment

Teams must evaluate the inventory for existing and potential exposure risks. For example, a database without password protection or authentication represents an existing exposure risk. A secure solution that could be modified to ingest data from insecure sources represents a potential exposure risk. Implementing automated cybersecurity assessments help save time and resources.

3. Prioritization

Organizations enhance the prioritization of exposures by incorporating threat detection investigations. Existing exposures are priority, followed by high-risk potential points of compromise and then lower-risk exposure assets. Including the attacker’s perspective helps add insight into remediation priorities.

4. Action

Teams implement additional security controls to reduce exposure risk. They then test these controls to ensure that they are working as intended. Organizations should adopt exposure management into their overall cybersecurity approach to improve security posture.

These four processes are regularly repeated to identify, assess, and address emerging exposure risks.

Understanding exposures vs. vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities and exposures are often conflated. While similar, they aren't identical.

Exposures occur when application or network conditions create the potential for compromise. Vulnerabilities, meanwhile, are weaknesses in tools or technologies that attackers may actively exploit.

For example, known flaws in critical software are vulnerabilities that an update or patch can often mitigate. In contrast, databases or storage solutions left unprotected or easily accessible are exposures.

In practice, exposure management is the broad process of reducing an attack surface, while vulnerability management addresses known issues.