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How to Discover Your Internet-Facing Assets

Organizations need to uncover their internet-facing assets for application and data cybersecurity best practices 

Many organizations increasingly rely on internet-facing assets, such as web applications, cloud services, and remote access systems. The security of these assets is crucial, as vulnerabilities can expose businesses to cyberattacks and data breaches. 

Let’s examine the challenges of identifying internet-facing assets and delve into comprehensive security strategies to protect them. 

Challenges in identifying Internet-facing assets 

  1. Evolving IT Landscapes: As organizations expand and adapt, their IT environments become increasingly complex, making maintaining a complete and up-to-date inventory of internet-facing assets challenging. This lack of visibility can lead to security vulnerabilities.
  2. Shadow IT: Employees may deploy unauthorized devices, applications, or cloud services without the knowledge of IT administrators. This phenomenon, known as “shadow IT,” can expose organizations to risks, as these assets and their interactions may not be adequately secured or monitored. 
  3. Third-Party Dependencies: Many organizations rely on third-party vendors, business partners, or third-party code for assorted functionality and services, which can introduce additional internet-facing assets and potential vulnerabilities. Evaluating and monitoring the security of these assets can prove challenging, and third-party software may pose a risk and contain vulnerabilities. 

Holistic security approaches 

The phrase “holistic security approach” invariably makes me think of the works of Douglas Adams, but it actually refers to the comprehensive and integrated strategies that address various aspects of an organization’s security posture. Rather than focusing on individual components or aspects of security, a holistic approach considers the entire system as a whole. These approaches consider technical solutions and encompass people, processes, and policies to create a robust and resilient security framework. By taking a holistic approach, organizations can better identify and manage risks, protect their valuable assets, and minimize the potential impact of cyberattacks and data breaches. 

  1. Asset Discovery and Inventory: The first step in securing an environment or infrastructure is to identify and catalog your organization’s assets, both on-premises and in the cloud, using automated tools to discover and inventory anything that might be exposed. Regularly update this inventory to account for any changes in your IT environment. 
  2. Vulnerability Assessment and Management: Perform regular vulnerability assessments to identify potential weaknesses in your internet-facing assets. Use vulnerability scanners and penetration testing tools to detect and prioritize vulnerabilities. Implement a robust vulnerability management process to track, remediate, and verify the resolution of identified vulnerabilities 
  3. Continuous Monitoring and Incident Response: Establish a continuous monitoring program to detect and respond to security incidents. Leverage intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools to monitor your internet-facing assets for suspicious activity. Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to address security incidents promptly and effectively. 
  4. Network Segmentation and Access Control: Segment your network to limit sensitive data and systems access. Implement strong access controls, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), to ensure that only authorized users can access your internet-facing assets. Regularly review and update access permissions to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. 
  5. Encryption and Data Protection: Protect sensitive data stored on your internet-facing assets by using encryption both at rest and in transit. Implement data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to monitor and prevent the unauthorized transmission of sensitive information 
  6. Security Awareness and Training: Educate employees about the risks associated with internet-facing assets and the importance of adhering to security policies and procedures. Provide ongoing training to ensure that employees stay informed about the latest threats and best practices for safeguarding your organization’s assets. 
  7. Third-Party Risk Management: Assess the security of third-party vendors with access to your internet-facing assets or provide services that can impact their security. Establish a third-party risk management program to evaluate, monitor, and mitigate risks associated with these vendors.  

The TrueFort Platform solution 

As a comprehensive application and cloud workload protection platform that provides real-time visibility and control over applications, workloads, and their dependencies, and while our primary focus could be said to be on application and workload protection, we also help to identify internet-facing applications and assets through the following features: 

  1. Application Discovery: TrueFort automatically discovers applications and workloads running in your environment, mapping their relationships and dependencies. TrueFort can help identify internet-facing applications and assets by analyzing the communication patterns and network traffic. 
  2. Real-time Visibility: TrueFort provides real-time visibility into the behavior of applications and workloads, including their network connections and traffic patterns. This visibility can help you identify applications and assets that are exposed to the internet and may require additional security measures. 
  3. Dependency Mapping: TrueFort’s dependency mapping feature allows users to visualize the relationships between applications, workloads, and their supporting infrastructure. By examining these dependencies, organizations can determine which assets are internet-facing and may be at risk. 
  4. Security Policy Management: TrueFort enables businesses to create and enforce security policies based on their applications’ and workloads’ behavior and characteristics. By implementing policies that restrict access to unapproved (or validated) internet-facing assets, they can better control and manage the exposure of these businesses. 
  5. Continuous Monitoring: TrueFort continuously monitors application and workload behavior and their network communications. This continuous monitoring helps detect any changes or anomalies that may indicate a previously unidentified internet-facing asset or a change in the exposure of an existing asset. By being alerted to such communications, security teams can quickly take action to secure the affected assets. 
  6. Integration with Existing Security Tools: TrueFort can integrate with your existing security tools and infrastructure, such as firewalls, through existing agents such as Crowdstrike and SentinelOne. By leveraging these integrations, organizations get a more comprehensive view of your internet-facing assets and ensure they are adequately protected. 
  7. Risk Assessment and Prioritization: The TrueFort Platform can assess the risk associated with applications and workloads based on their behavior, vulnerabilities, and network exposure. By prioritizing risks related to internet-facing assets, organizations can focus security efforts on the most critical assets and vulnerabilities.  

While TrueFort’s primary focus is on application and cloud workload protection, our features also help organizations identify web-facing applications and assets by providing real-time visibility, dependency mapping, continuous monitoring, and integration with existing security tools. By leveraging these capabilities, organizations can better manage and secure assets, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. 

Additional security measures  

There are several proactive measures that organizations can take now, regardless of their insight into their Internet-facing assets, that are solid protection strategies for the future. These are, one could say, a byproduct of using visibility solution like our own to identify and secure exposed assets. 

  1. Embrace Zero Trust Principles: Zero trust is a security approach that assumes all users, devices, and traffic are potentially untrustworthy. Implement zero trust principles by verifying the identity and security posture of every user, application, and device before granting access to your internet-facing assets.  
  2. Implement Cloud Workload Protection: For assets hosted in the cloud, deploy cloud workload protection platforms (CWPP) to secure and monitor workloads across various cloud environments. These platforms can help prevent unauthorized access, detect threats, and ensure compliance with security policies and regulations.  
  3. Control Lateral Movement: Limit the ability of attackers to move laterally within your infrastructure by implementing measures such as network segmentation, microsegmentation, and least privilege access controls. By controlling lateral movement, you can contain potential breaches and minimize the impact of security incidents.  
  4. Mitigate Software Supply Chain Attacks: Software supply chain attacks can compromise your internet-facing assets by exploiting third-party software or components vulnerabilities. To mitigate these risks, ensure that you use reputable vendors, verify the integrity of software components, and implement robust patch management processes.  
  5. Isolate Ransomware: In the event of a ransomware attack, isolate affected systems and internet-facing assets with preemptive segmentation to prevent the spread of encryption and minimize damage. Implement a robust backup and recovery strategy to enable your organization to quickly recover from ransomware attacks without paying ransoms. 

Identifying and securing internet-facing assets is a complex but essential task for organizations in the digital age. By addressing the challenges associated with asset detection and implementing comprehensive security strategies, businesses can protect their valuable assets and minimize the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. Embracing a holistic approach that includes asset discovery, vulnerability management, continuous monitoring, and robust security measures, such as zero trust, cloud workload protection, and lateral movement control, can significantly enhance the security posture of your organization’s web-facing assets. 

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