A Guide to Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management

Uncover CAASM use cases, best practices and comparisons against other emerging technologies with Noetic’s Ultimate Guide to CAASM.

When it comes to securing your attack surface, visibility is key. However, as environments continue to multiply in size and complexity, many organizations struggle to achieve full visibility across their entire estate—especially as they migrate to cloud environments.  

That’s where cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) comes in.

What is Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management?

According to Gartner, cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) is an emerging technology that enables security teams to solve persistent asset visibility and vulnerability challenges. CAASM solutions aggregate data from existing tools and data feeds to provide a continuous, multidimensional view of an organization’s entire attack surface.

CAASM virtually eliminates blind spots and provides fast track for security operations teams on the road to proactive cyber security and risk management. In fact, thanks to CAASM, Gartner anticipates the number of organizations with ≥95% asset visibility will grow to 20% by 2026, up from less than 1% today.

What are the use cases for CAASM?

The more data you ingest into your platform, the more value you’ll get out of it. At a high level, a CAASM solution supports the following cybersecurity and risk initiatives:

  • Automate cyber asset inventory and maintenance: Maintain a unified view of the attack surface by ingesting data from existing security tools, databases, controls, etc. CAASM seamlessly connects to virtually any source through agent-less connectors, enabling teams to achieve unparalleled visibility of everything that holds value to the organization.
  • Improve endpoint security: Automatically identify security coverage gaps and system misconfigurations, and ensure necessary tools are deployed to maintain a robust ecosystem.
  • Sharpen information technology systems management: Maximize return on investment and ensure data hygiene by cross referencing the data ingested from your IT tools against your CMDB.  
  • Optimize vulnerability management programs: Streamline virtually every stage of the vulnerability management lifecycle by leveraging the aggregation and contextualization capabilities within a centralized dashboard.
  • Advance incident response capabilities: Significantly accelerate response times, identify risks in real-time and even pinpoint the blast radius in the event an incident occurs.
  • Enhance identity and access management: Rapidly understand and address privilege boundaries by comparing your attack surface against identity and access management systems such as Okta, Active Director, AWS IAM and more.
  • Master compliance assessments: Eliminate the need for “point-in-time” audits with continuous testing and evidence collection for common control frameworks including CIS, NIST, ISO 27001, and more.  
Available eBook: Making the Case for Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management

Get instant access to exclusive insights from former Gartner Analyst and advisor Brad LaPorte, including:

• How CAASM addresses the main issues security team face
• Key considerations for evaluating CAASM tools
• Where Noetic fits into your security infrastructure

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Making the Case for CAASM cover

What are the benefits of CAASM?

With CAASM, users gain a deep understanding of not only of where the assets in their environment exist, but also how they’re connected. Even still, that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible.  

CAASM tools offer an extensive range of benefits, including:

Attack surface reduction

Identifying high-risk vulnerabilities, shadow IT, security coverage gaps and non-compliant controls enables organizations to safeguard themselves against the adversary.

While vulnerability scanners on their own may highlight areas of risk according to a proprietary score, there are many other factors to consider when assessing your attack surface from a threat actor’s perspective. Depending on the extensibility of the CAASM tool, you could ingest a variety of contextual data that enables them to assess threats and exposures from all four critical dimensions. With this advanced intelligence at your disposal, you can then identify which actions will have the most impact in reducing your attack surface.

Expedites incident response

Automated asset intelligence with context helps incident responders understand exactly where to focus their efforts.

Eliminates data siloes

Conflicting data sources tend to have a negative impact on the accuracy and coverage of an organization’s attack surface. That’s not a concern for teams that are operating from within a single source of truth.

“Everything within the digital ecosystem creates data — from autonomous network and vulnerability scanners to manual spreadsheets. Teams have to understand how each element plays a role in the prioritization decision-making process. They need to consider the threat and exposure management life cycle to explore the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for each resource.”

— Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder Allen Rogers in Dark Reading

Optimizes your existing resources

When conducted manually, each cyber asset inventory requires an average of 89 person hours to collect, process and analyze data. By implementing a CAASM solution, security teams can  efficiently collect, aggregate, and analyze vast amounts of security data from diverse sources, such as network logs, system events, and user activities. This enables teams to identify and prioritize security incidents and threats quickly, reducing the time spent on manual analysis. CAASM also helps optimize resource allocation by automating routine security tasks, such as vulnerability scanning and log analysis, freeing up security personnel to focus on more complex and strategic activities.

Streamlines compliance assessments and questionnaires

Automating evidence collection for governance, risk and compliance enables teams to drastically reduce the time it takes to complete an audit. By leveraging CAASM for GRC purposes, organizations can automatically gather and compile evidence from various sources, such as logs, databases, and systems, ensuring a comprehensive and standardized approach to evidence collection. This reduces the reliance on manual efforts, minimizes human errors, and saves valuable time and resources.

Additionally, automation enables real-time monitoring and continuous evidence collection, ensuring up-to-date compliance assessments and risk questionnaires, and facilitating proactive identification and mitigation of compliance gaps or potential risks. Ultimately, automating evidence collection enhances the overall effectiveness and reliability of compliance assessments and risk questionnaires, enabling organizations to make informed decisions and take prompt actions to maintain regulatory compliance and mitigate potential risks.

Demonstrates value over time

A centralized dashboard enables security and risk leaders to quickly generate common reports and dashboards, and better demonstrate trends over time.

Drives organizational efficiency

In improving cross-team alignment, security leaders can drastically increase productivity throughout all functions.

How does the technology work?

As with any security platform, not all cybersecurity asset management tools are created equal. While we can’t speak on behalf of every vendor, Noetic’s continuous cyber asset management platform connects to your existing cloud and on-premises data sources through agent-less connectors.

Out-of-the-box connectors include widely adopted systems to support the full asset management lifecycle. Examples include:

  • Asset Discovery tools such as runZero 3.0
  • Endpoint Security platforms such as SentinelOne
  • Vulnerability Management support through Rapid7, Tenable and Qualys
  • IT Asset Management (ITAM) software
  • Patch Management tools including BigFix and Microsoft System Center Configuration (SCCM)
  • Ticketing systems including Jira and ServiceNow

External feeds such internal policies, industry frameworks and references are also ingested to help organizations understand how their environment compares to the set of requirements defined by the user.

Getting Started with CAASM

No two companies are identical in the way that they implement technology. However, to make the adoption process as smooth as possible, be prepared to address the following questions when getting started on your buying journey:

What assets am I responsible for?

Gone are the days of measuring cyber risk according to the traditional IT landscape. CAASM or not, make sure you’re aligned with stakeholders on the assets and entities that fall within your scope of work. This should keep you aligned on which teams will need to get involved.

Have I secured cross-departmental support?

The full value of cyber asset attack surface management is in the company-wide security oversights that it provides. However, but a general resistance to employing new tools isn’t unusual among teams already dealing with an excess number of security tools.

Do I have a comprehensive list of desired data sources and associated access requirements?

CAASM has the potential to demonstrate immediate return on investments, contingent on the fact it’s able to access to all relevant data sources. Gather a consolidated list of all data that would be valuable to your dashboard so that you’re able to sort out any user access issues before onboarding begins.

Is this the best investment for my organization right now?

Understandably, you can’t make a clear and informed decision regarding investment without first comparing it to fellow emerging technologies as well as its predecessors. After all, this is the context on which true understanding and profitability rest.

How does CAASM compare to other technologies?

It may already be clear that the “hype” is warranted. However, in true CAASM style, you can’t make a clear and informed decision regarding investment here without first comparing the emerging tech to its security predecessors.

After all, this is the context on which true understanding and profitability rest, and it’s something that we’re going to help you get to the bottom with a simple comparison chart as follows:

Primary Data SourcePrimary Use Cases
Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management (CAASM)
Any internal feed that provides information about business risk—from CrowdStrike to your own CMDBCyber Asset Management
Internal Controls Monitoring
Compliance Reporting and Auditing
Vulnerability and Threat Management
External Attack Surface Management (EASM)External, internet-facing feedsAttack Surface Reduction
Vulnerability Management
Digital Risk Protection Services (DRPS)Open web, social media, the dark web and deep webData Leakage Detection
Brand Reputation Monitoring
Application or API Attack Surface Management (AASM)Application softwareRogue API Discovery
Vulnerability Management (API-focused)

EASM is focused primarily on external, internet-facing assets and networks. Modern success is dependent on considering external security assets alongside internal concerns. By providing this benefit, CAASM is better poised for comprehensive and effective security solutions.


DRPS was created specifically for digital risk monitoring and management, whereas the focus of CAASM is to provide a comprehensive view of your entire cyber ecosystem.


Similarly, CAASM differs from API surface management in the platform’s ability to prioritize all risks in order of their impact on the business, whereas AASM focuses primarily on application software.

All things considered, the level of visibility, context, and inclusivity that CAASM provides makes it a clear frontrunner when it comes to evaluating similar attack surface management tools.

What should I look for in a CAASM tool?

While virtually any CAASM vendor will provide benefits, there are many factors to consider during the evaluation process. When deciding on a vendor, consider the following questions:

  • What does my environment consist of? Cloud assets, on-promises devices, or is it hybrid?
  • Where does my asset inventory data currently live? Do I have a cumulative list of all hardware and software devices?
  • How many security tools do I have in place. Which (if not all) do I want to ingest into the platform?
  • Which teams will be involved? Which stage of the asset lifecycle process are they responsible for?
  • Which sources provide the most context in terms of overall business risk?
  • How does my incident response team currently assess the blast radius in the event of an incident?
  • What security outcomes are most important to your organization?

The questions above will help give a better idea about what solution will best fit your needs based on the level of support, scalability and complexity of your infrastructure.

A photo of the Noetic platform dashboard.

Ready to break the cycle of burdensome cyber asset management?

Join our next live demonstration for an insider’s look at how Noetic empowers teams to see, understand and optimize their cybersecurity posture.

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