NEW TECH SNAPSHOT: Can ‘CAASM’ help slow, perhaps reverse, attack surface expansion?

By Byron V. Acohido

Defending companies as they transition to cloud-first infrastructures has become a very big problem – but it’s certainly not an unsolvable one.

Related: How security teams can help drive business growth — by embracing complexity. 

The good news is that a long-overdue transition to a new attack surface and security paradigm is well underway, one built on a fresh set of cloud-native security frameworks and buttressed by software-defined security technologies.

It strikes me that the security systems we will need to carry us forward can be divided into two big buckets: those that help organizations closely monitor network traffic flying across increasingly cloud-native infrastructure and those that help them keep their critical system configurations in shipshape.

There’s a lot percolating in this second bucket, of late. A bevy of cybersecurity vendors have commenced delivering new services to help companies gain visibility into their cyber asset environment, and remediate security control and vulnerability gaps continuously. This is the long-run path to slowing the expansion of a modern attack surface.

“The challenge is that cyber assets are exploding out of control and security teams are having a hard time getting a grasp on what’s going on,” says Ekrang Zheng, founder and CEO of JupiterOne, a Morrisville, NC-based asset visibility platform. “But at the same time, because everything is now software-defined, we actually can approach this problem with a data-driven and an automation-driven mechanism.”

JupiterOne is in a group of cybersecurity vendors that are innovating new technology designed to help companies start doing what they should have done before racing off to migrate everything to the cloud. What happened was that digital transition shifted into high gear without anyone giving due consideration to the security gaps they were creating.

The need to start doing this is glaring; so the rise of specialized technology to get this done is a welcomed development.

Indeed, research firm Gartner very recently created yet another cybersecurity acronym for this emerging class of asset visibility platforms  and practices: cyber asset attack surface management, or CAASM. Gartner lists JupiterOne, Brinqa, AirTrack Software, Axonius, Panaseer and Sevco Security as leading suppliers of CAASM systems.

The common denominator among CAASM vendors is that they provide a centralized platform that can help companies attain meaningful, actionable visibility of their system configurations and vulnerability patching — across the breadth of their cloud-native, hybrid-cloud, and multi-cloud networks.

There’s really no longer any excuse for any organization to lack visibility into how their cyber assets are intermeshing, moment-to-moment, and whether this is occurring according to established best practices.

I’ve had a couple of deep discussions with JupiterOne about this. A drill-down is coming tomorrow in a news analysis column and podcast. Stay tuned.


Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

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