Glossary Glossary

Exposure Management

Exposure management in cybersecurity, also known as “threat exposure management,” is the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating the risks a company’s individual digital assets and its overall infrastructure pose. It involves mapping out your entire digital attack surface by cataloging vulnerabilities that may allow attackers to access your systems and data.

Once you’ve mapped out your attack surface, you can develop and implement strategies to reduce your attack exposure.

Table of Contents

Exposure Management: A Deep Dive

Do Exposure and Vulnerability Refer to the Same Thing?

In cybersecurity, the terms “exposure” and “vulnerability” are often used interchangeably. But it’s essential to establish how interlinked yet distinct these concepts are before we go deeper into exposure management.

A vulnerability is a weakness in an organization’s systems or assets that threat actors can exploit. It can be a software flaw or misconfiguration caused by human error. The presence of such weaknesses can expose an organization to threat actors. But an exposure only occurs after a vulnerability gets exploited.

What Are the Stages of Exposure Management?

Since vulnerability and exposure are closely related, their management processes are also interlinked. In fact, vulnerability management is an integral part of exposure management. You may recognize some stages below that are also present in vulnerability management.


The first step in exposure management is identifying a company’s digital perimeter. Determine all systems, networks, and infrastructure that are part of your overall attack surface.

Vulnerability Identification

The first step in exposure management is to identify all the vulnerabilities in connected systems. This process starts with comprehensively discovering and cataloging all external-facing assets and scanning them for issues usually found in MITRE’s list of Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE).

Vulnerability Assessment and Prioritization

The discovered vulnerabilities are then analyzed to answer various questions, such as:

  • What systems and data are at risk?
  • How easy or difficult is it for threat actors to exploit the issues found?
  • What are the financial, reputational, and other effects of an exposure?

Based on this assessment, vulnerabilities can be ranked to efficiently allocate resources.

Risk Mitigation

At this stage, you may have already identified exposures. You must then act immediately to minimize their respective risks. Even if you don’t find exposures, it’s still best for your security team to already have a mitigation plan in place. Below are some ways you can mitigate risk exposures.

Exposure management
  1. Reduce the likelihood of exposure by patching vulnerabilities, implementing stricter security policies, changing some security protocols, and training employees.
  2. Avoid risks by changing organizational activities and operations. For example, instead of storing sensitive company data in the cloud, it may be less risky for you to move it to an internal database and create backups.
  3. Minimize the impact the risks pose by ensuring you have a backup plan in place.
  4. Transfer risks by purchasing cyber insurance for exposed portions of your digital infrastructure.

What Is Continuous Threat Exposure Management?

Continuous threat exposure management (CTEM) falls under the umbrella of threat exposure management, though it further emphasizes the need for organizations to proactively and repetitively monitor, evaluate, and reduce their exposure to threats.

The continuous aspect of CTEM entails looping back throughout the whole process regularly because as your business grows aided by the use of Internet-facing technologies, you are likely to get exposed to new threats. CTEM is thus critical to your organization’s overall security strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Exposure management in cybersecurity involves mapping out a company’s entire digital attack surface and identifying vulnerabilities attackers can exploit.
  • By effectively managing its threat exposure, a company can reduce the risk of becoming a cyber attack victim and effectively protect its digital assets.
  • A vulnerability is a weakness in an organization’s systems or assets that attackers can exploit. An exposure occurs when a vulnerability gets exploited.
  • The first step in exposure management is to identify vulnerabilities in all connected systems.
  • Once vulnerabilities have been identified, they must be assessed to understand the risks they pose.
  • Mitigating exposures involves patching vulnerabilities, implementing security controls, developing backup plans, and educating employees about cybersecurity risks.
  • CTEM emphasizes that organizations should ongoingly monitor, evaluate, and reduce their threat exposure.

Minimize cyber risks by managing your threat exposure. Contact us today to learn how Attaxion can help you identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.

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