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Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
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Corey Noles, Editor

What is attack surface management? 

Attack Surface Management (ASM) is a cybersecurity strategy aiming to identify, assess, and secure all external digital assets accessible from the internet. In a world where digital footprints expand daily, ASM monitors and mitigates the risks associated with these evolving attack vectors. By continuously identifying exposed data, unsecured servers, misconfigured cloud services, and other vulnerabilities, it minimizes the ‘surface’ that attackers can exploit. ASM solutions also help organizations adhere to security compliance regulations. This proactive approach is crucial in today’s digital landscape to safeguard the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of an organization’s information systems. Remember, in cybersecurity, your defenses are only as strong as your weakest point; ASM ensures there are as few weak points as possible.

Based on our evaluation of 20 titles, the best IT attack surface management software solutions are: 

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We picked our recommendations with you in mind.

First, we evaluated 17 of the leading attack surface management solutions available on the market today. We used vendor demos, technical documentation, and user reviews from customers like you to compile our research.

We then narrowed our selections to the platforms that best addressed the most common concerns among attack surface management users. These factors include estimated total cost, breadth and depth of functionality, technical complexity, scalability, detection accuracy, and remediation assistance.

As the market changes, we reevaluate our choices so you always receive the best insight for your purchasing decision.

Our picks for the best attack surface management software 

UpGuard – Best for third-party risk management


Pros

  • Extensive features for security management
  • Continuous real-time monitoring
  • Third-party risk management
  • Comprehensive reporting

Cons

  • False positives reported
  • Limited API functionality
  • Customization limitations
  • Cybersecurity posture: UpGuard offers a complete, 360-degree view of an organization’s cybersecurity posture. It collects broad data sets, assessing them for risks and providing users with a Cyber Risk Score. This score can help you understand your organization’s security status at a glance.
  • Third-party risk management: This feature enables organizations to automatically assess and monitor the security postures of their vendors and third-party providers. It helps to uncover potential risks and allows you to remediate any issues before they become threats.
  • BreachSight: BreachSight is an automated service provided by UpGuard that searches the web continuously for leaked or exposed data. It helps businesses to detect and respond to data leaks and breaches rapidly.Security ratings: UpGuard uses machine learning to generate daily security ratings ranging from 0 to 950, based on the risk level. These security ratings provide a quantitative measure of cybersecurity risk, helping companies to easily track their security performance over time.

Free trial available

Starting at $10,000/capacity/year

Contact UpGuard for a customized quote

UpGuard excels in managing third-party risks due to its comprehensive and intuitive capabilities. It automatically evaluates the security postures of your vendors, providing actionable insights into potential vulnerabilities. UpGuard’s standout feature is its ability to offer real-time alerts and detailed reports, helping organizations rapidly identify and mitigate risks. The platform simplifies complex cybersecurity data, making it accessible for decision-making. While it’s a robust tool with an expansive range of features, it doesn’t shy away from user-friendliness, easing the task of managing third-party risks. It’s UpGuard’s pragmatic approach that places it a step ahead in this category.

UpGuard is an Attack Surface Management tool offering an impressive suite of features—most notably, its third-party risk management, which provides continuous monitoring and detailed, actionable reports on vendor security postures. Its automated risk assessment yields clear, digestible data, aiding effective decision-making. User-friendly despite its robustness, UpGuard also offers breach detection services, constantly scanning for exposed data. Its standout offering is the Cyber Risk Score, giving you an instant, quantifiable view of your cybersecurity health. Though mighty, UpGuard retains an approachable feel, making it a reliable choice for businesses aiming to secure their digital environments.

CrowdStrike Falcon Service – Best for endpoint protection


Pros

  • Cloud native
  • AI-driven threat graph
  • Single agent architecture
  • 24/7 threat hunting

Cons

  • Overload of alerts
  • Requires significant tuning
  • Short data retention period
  • Next-gen antivirus (NGAV): This feature uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect known and unknown threats, delivering powerful antivirus capabilities beyond traditional solutions.
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR): CrowdStrike’s EDR solution, known as Falcon Insight, provides real-time detection and visibility across your network, ensuring that threat activities don’t go unnoticed.
  • Managed threat hunting: Known as Falcon OverWatch, this feature provides proactive threat hunting services managed by CrowdStrike’s team of experts. It ensures constant vigilance over your network.Threat intelligence: Falcon X automates threat analysis, delivering customized and actionable intelligence to speed up response times. It enriches detected events with intel to provide context and prioritization.

Falcon Pro: $6.99/user/month for 5-250 users, billed annually.

Falcon Enterprise: $14.99/user/month, minimum user limit applies.

Falcon Premium: $17.99/user/month, minimum user limit applies.

The blend of advanced protection, real-time monitoring, and system efficiency make CrowdStrike an excellent choice for endpoint protection.

Its next-gen antivirus employs AI and machine learning to detect both known and unknown threats effectively, enhancing protection against diverse threats. With Falcon Insight, CrowdStrike provides real-time detection and deep visibility into network activities, ensuring swift response. Falcon OverWatch elevates this protection by offering proactive, managed threat hunting around the clock. Despite being feature-rich, it maintains efficient system performance due to its lightweight agent design.

CrowdStrike Falcon Service is a comprehensive, cloud-native cybersecurity solution specializing in endpoint protection. It offers robust defense through AI-enabled next-gen antivirus, real-time endpoint detection, and threat intelligence. Its standout feature, Falcon OverWatch, provides managed threat hunting, offering an extra layer of proactive protection. Despite its extensive capabilities, CrowdStrike remains efficient, minimizing system impact thanks to its single agent architecture. While its advanced features demand a learning curve, it’s a worthwhile trade-off for the comprehensive protection and insight CrowdStrike provides, particularly for businesses with significant endpoint security needs.

CyCognito – Best for automated asset discovery


Pros

  • Extensive asset discovery
  • Risk-centric approach
  • Automated testing
  • Shadow risk elimination

Cons

  • Limited customization options
  • Limited integrations
  • May mix context-sensitive vulnerabilities due to over-automation
  • Attack surface visibility: CyCognito provides extensive visibility, discovering and analyzing physical infrastructure, cloud-based assets, third-party resources, IoT devices, and abandoned virtual servers.
  • Automated, continuous monitoring: Utilizing a network of over 60,000 bots, the platform offers continuous and automated monitoring of your attack surface.
  • Asset prioritization: CyCognito identifies and prioritizes vulnerabilities based on potential harm, ease of exploitation, and the effort required for resolution.
  • Robust reporting: It offers detailed, understandable reports, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of network health and vulnerabilities for both IT teams and non-technical leadership.

Starting at $11/asset/month

Contact CyCognito for a customized quote

CyCognito stands as our top pick for automated asset discovery due to its unique capability to mimic the perspective of a potential attacker, identifying assets often overlooked by other tools. With its 60,000-strong bot network, the platform’s ability to continuously discover and evaluate both known and unknown assets, including those in physical, cloud, or third-party environments, offers an unrivaled level of comprehensive and automatic coverage. It also scores high on actionable insights, as it not only identifies vulnerabilities but also prioritizes them based on potential damage, exploit ease, and fix complexity. Finally, the easy-to-understand reporting is a distinguishing feature, bridging the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders, thus facilitating informed decision-making.

CyCognito is a sophisticated, bot-driven cybersecurity platform that employs a hacker’s approach to identify, assess, and prioritize risks in an organization’s digital infrastructure. Continuously scanning the full expanse of an organization’s digital assets, including IoT devices, cloud-based infrastructure, and third-party assets, it illuminates hidden vulnerabilities, offers a ranking of threats, and provides actionable insights. It’s an uncomplicated and flexible solution, requiring no setup or advanced knowledge, serving comprehensive reports that articulate network health and vulnerability management to both technical and non-technical audiences, making it an essential tool in the realm of cybersecurity.

Mandiant Advantage – Best for threat intelligence and response


Pros

  • Strong intelligence capabilities
  • Automated remediation
  • Dynamic threat detection
  • Integration and scalability

Cons

  • Paywall and data accessibility
  • Time for deliverables
  • Complexity of customization
  • Expert-led threat hunting: Mandiant Advantage offers expert-led threat hunting capabilities, allowing organizations to leverage the expertise of Mandiant’s security analysts to proactively search for hidden threats in their environment.
  • Threat actor profiles: The platform provides comprehensive profiles of threat actors, helping organizations to understand their adversaries better and anticipate their tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • Cyber threat map: Mandiant Advantage features a dynamic, real-time global threat map that visualizes cyber attack trends across the world, providing organizations with a broad perspective of the threat landscape.Cyber security learning portal: The platform includes a learning portal offering a wealth of educational resources, allowing users to stay updated with the latest cybersecurity trends, strategies, and best practices.
  • Expert-led threat hunting: Mandiant Advantage offers expert-led threat hunting capabilities, allowing organizations to leverage the expertise of Mandiant’s security analysts to proactively search for hidden threats in their environment.
  • Threat actor profiles: The platform provides comprehensive profiles of threat actors, helping organizations to understand their adversaries better and anticipate their tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • Cyber threat map: Mandiant Advantage features a dynamic, real-time global threat map that visualizes cyber attack trends across the world, providing organizations with a broad perspective of the threat landscape.Cyber security learning portal: The platform includes a learning portal offering a wealth of educational resources, allowing users to stay updated with the latest cybersecurity trends, strategies, and best practices.

Mandiant Advantage secures the top spot in ASM software for threat intelligence and response, and here’s why. With real-time visibility underpinned by AI and expert intelligence, it offers an unblinking eye on your digital landscape. Mandiant Advantage enables swift and effective threat response with its automated threat prioritization, removing the guesswork and allowing for rapid action. Furthermore, its Threat Intelligence Library provides invaluable insights into threat actor profiles and methods, effectively enhancing anticipatory measures.

Mandiant Advantage is a formidable Automated Security Management (ASM) solution that provides a unified, intelligence-led approach to security. This platform ensures comprehensive visibility over your digital assets, bolstered by real-time threat intelligence and automated threat prioritization. It is acclaimed for its sophisticated AI-driven analysis and Incident Response capabilities. Its Threat Intelligence Library offers deep insights into threat actors, techniques, and preventative measures. Mandiant Advantage empowers organizations with a robust defense strategy, enabling them to anticipate, prioritize, and effectively respond to threats, thereby fortifying their security posture across diverse digital environments.

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager – Best for small to mid-sized businesses


Pros

  • Comprehensive vulnerability scanning
  • User-friendly interface
  • Scheduled scanning
  • Supports a variety of platforms

Cons

  • Limited reporting
  • Customer support issues reported

Detailed vulnerability assessment: ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager employs a thorough scanning mechanism to identify vulnerabilities in servers, networks, and web applications, detailing each vulnerability’s severity, associated threat, and recommended solutions.

Automated patch management: Integrated with Desktop Central, ManageEngine’s Vulnerability Manager seamlessly provides automated patching, ensuring systems are up-to-date and eliminating identified vulnerabilities.

Scheduled scanning and reporting: This feature allows for regular, automated scanning of assets, thus maintaining updated vulnerability assessments. Additionally, it generates detailed reports on scan results, trends, compliance, and more.Non-intrusive scanning: ManageEngine’s Vulnerability Manager offers a non-intrusive scanning option that ensures network performance isn’t hindered during the vulnerability assessment, making it convenient for organizations to continue their operations undisturbed.

Professional: $7/user/month

Enterprise: $12/user/month

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager is an optimal choice for small-to-midsize businesses due to its scalability, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness. Its detailed vulnerability assessment feature caters well to businesses that lack extensive resources for cybersecurity, providing precise and actionable insights. The integrated automated patch management further minimizes manual intervention, saving time and effort for smaller teams. The solution’s capacity for non-intrusive scanning ensures regular business operations are not disrupted, while scheduled scanning and reporting features allow for proactive vulnerability management. Furthermore, ManageEngine’s pricing model is highly competitive, making it a smart investment for smaller businesses looking to enhance their cybersecurity posture without incurring hefty costs.

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager is a robust cybersecurity solution designed to assist businesses in identifying and remediating vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure. The tool performs comprehensive vulnerability scanning across network devices, servers, web applications, and databases, enabling organizations to keep their security posture updated. The solution provides detailed vulnerability reports, risk scoring, and actionable remediation advice, helping teams prioritize and address issues effectively. In addition, it features automated patch management to reduce manual effort. Its non-intrusive scanning ensures minimal disruption to regular business operations. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager’s capabilities, combined with its user-friendly interface and competitive pricing, make it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes, especially small to midsize organizations.

Microsoft Defender External Attack Surface Management – Best for Microsoft ecosystem integration


Pros

  • Seamless integration with Microsoft products
  • Remediation prioritization
  • Automated discovery
  • Cloud based

Cons

  • Limited customization
  • Limited compatibility with non-Microsoft products
  • Complexity

Integration with Microsoft ecosystem: Microsoft Defender External Attack Surface Management is highly integrated with the entire Microsoft ecosystem, providing a more streamlined and efficient security management experience.

AI-driven security analytics: Leveraging Microsoft’s AI and machine learning technologies, it provides advanced threat detection and predictive analytics to prevent attacks before they happen.

Automated threat protection: It automatically blocks malicious activity, minimizing the potential damage from attacks. Continuous monitoring: Microsoft Defender EASM provides continuous monitoring of your external assets, enabling real-time threat detection and proactive security measures.

Starting at $0.011 asset/day

Contact Microsoft for a customized quote

The choice of Microsoft Defender External Attack Surface Management largely hinges on the ubiquitous presence of Microsoft in businesses, particularly within SMBs. The platform’s seamless integration with the existing Microsoft ecosystem significantly reduces complexity, creating a smoother and more streamlined user experience. Moreover, its robust capabilities, especially with regard to Advanced Threat Protection, bring sophisticated tools and actionable insights within reach. This, coupled with its intuitive interface and cost-effective pricing structure, makes it a compelling choice for businesses seeking a robust, user-friendly, and affordable external attack surface management solution.

Rooted in the widely used Microsoft ecosystem, Defender External Attack Surface Management facilitates threat detection, vulnerability assessment, and remediation processes. With a focus on external-facing assets, it provides actionable insights for enhancing security posture. Its strengths lie in its integration with Microsoft’s extensive security services, automated threat intelligence and response, and cost-effectiveness, making it a suitable choice for businesses seeking a robust, affordable, and user-friendly solution to manage their external attack surface.

Finding your new attack surface management software

Understanding the Components of an Attack Surface

Physical components

Physical components include any hardware that can be physically accessed or manipulated to gain unauthorized entry into a system. This includes servers, laptops, smartphones, routers, and IoT devices. Ensuring physical security is a fundamental part of ASM.

Digital components

Digital components of an attack surface are the software or digital systems, including operating systems, applications, databases, and networks, that can be exploited. A large digital attack surface may pose a higher risk due to the potential for software bugs, misconfigurations, and unpatched vulnerabilities.

Human components

Humans represent the third pillar of an attack surface. This includes employees, contractors, or any individual with access to your systems. Human error, negligence, or malicious intent can introduce serious vulnerabilities, making education and awareness key elements in managing this aspect of the attack surface.

Add an extra layer of security to your network with Zero Trust software

Key challenges in attack surface management

Growing complexity of networks

As businesses adopt new technologies, their attack surfaces expand and become more complex. This includes a rise in the use of cloud services, IoT devices, and mobile technologies, which can create additional entry points for attackers.

Rapidly evolving threat landscape

Cyber threats are constantly evolving, with new vulnerabilities and attack vectors emerging regularly. This makes the task of managing and securing an organization’s attack surface an ongoing challenge.

Managing unknown assets

A significant challenge in ASM is the management of unknown or unmanaged assets. These can range from forgotten servers to third-party applications, which often slip under the radar and provide potential footholds for attackers.

Best practices for effective attack surface management

Regular asset discovery and management

Continuous identification and tracking of assets is crucial for effective ASM. Regular inventory checks, network mapping, and automated discovery tools can help keep track of all components in your attack surface.

Continuous vulnerability assessments

Regularly scanning for vulnerabilities helps identify weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers. Employing continuous vulnerability assessment tools provides a more proactive and dynamic approach to threat management.

Prioritization of remediation efforts

Not all vulnerabilities pose the same risk. Prioritizing remediation efforts based on the potential impact and ease of exploitability of vulnerabilities helps optimize resource allocation and reduce risk faster.

Employee training and awareness

People are often the weakest link in security. Regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs can significantly reduce the risk of human-induced security incidents and enhance your overall security posture.

ALSO READ: Best Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Software Guide

Finding the right attack surface management software for your business

Choosing the right Attack Surface Management (ASM) software is critical to achieving a robust cybersecurity posture. Your ideal tool should align with your network’s structure, your operational needs, and your risk profile. It should offer continuous visibility over all your assets—physical, digital, and human—while also being proactive in identifying and assessing vulnerabilities. But, remember, no single solution is a magic bullet. Your organization’s security ultimately depends on an integrated, layered strategy that combines robust ASM with continuous monitoring, regular staff training, and a proactive culture of cybersecurity awareness. Find the software that complements your strategy and empowers your defense, and you’ll be well on your way to a more secure future.

Choosing the best software for attack surface management

Ready to start your surface attack management comparison? Our Technology Advisors are here to help you find the perfect tool for your company’s projects. Call for a free 5-minute consultation, or complete the form at the bottom of this page for fast, free recommendations based on your needs.

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