Changing the Status Quo: Security with Attack Surface Visualization

Shannon RaganMarch 31, 2016

Think of your IT security team as a ship’s crew at sea. You’re under attack, and a cannonball blasts your sides below the water line. As the water floods in, you can’t even see the hole, let alone fix any damage. Instead, everyone grabs a bucket and does what they can to keep the ship afloat.

Unfortunately, too many security programs are forced to run in this style of constant emergency. Under continuous threat and with growing complexity, the goal is to maintain, not improve.

It’s time for a new approach, harnessing the power of analytics, modelling and simulation to improve attack surface visualization. With better visibility, security teams are better prepared to fend off attacks; what’s more, they have the comprehensive intelligence needed to build a mature security program with strategic, defined processes tracked and measured for their effectiveness. A sophisticated attack surface visualization solution will give CISOs and security leaders the ability to see all security exposures at once, zoom in on problem areas and identify what’s causing the problem – all in seconds.

In order to see the attack surface, you have to understand the many layers that create it. To some, the attack surface has only been thought of in terms of vulnerabilities. But there are other factors that put an organization at risk, and they must be analyzed in connection with other attack vectors, the context of a unique network and the potential impact if they are exploited.

To holistically visualize and understand the attack surface and provide context to security risks, a solution needs to consider:

  • Topology: By comprehensively mapping all systems, devices and network segments as well as the paths between them, the interdependencies of your network affect risk exposures becomes more apparent. Effective solutions need to incorporate servers, endpoints, networks (including clouds), networking devices and security devices (physical and virtual) into a visual model.
  • Indicators of Exposure (IOEs): IOEs highlight a system, device or network that is exposed to a potential attack, helping you secure the organization before an attack occurs. IOEs include software vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and missing security controls, overly permissive rules and violations of security policies and compliance rules.

By “mapping” IOEs to an organization’s topology, security teams can quickly and intuitively extract actionable conclusions from the data. Only Skybox® Horizon, our new attack surface visualization tool that integrates with the Skybox® Security Suite, is capable of combining an organization’s entire topology with all their IOEs in an interactive, visual model.

Skybox Horizon - Attack Surface High Level View
With Horizon, you can get the bird’s eye view of your attack surface, dive deeper to customized attack surface segments and the specific IOEs putting you at risk. This breed of fast, contextualized intelligence will help you:

  • Prevent data breaches by prioritizing risk and remediation
  • Quickly respond to emerging threats and ongoing attacks
  • Systematically manage and reduce your attack surface

In today’s threat landscape, every business is sailing through dangerous waters. You will come under attack. You will have leaks. But with advanced technology, you can find them and fix them fast and outfit yourself to be better prepared for the next problem that tries to sink you.


Learn more in this whitepaper on the benefits of attack surface visualization, including how it works and how it powers better security management programs.

Reduce your attack surface with these five best practices.

Shannon Ragan is the Senior Communications Manager at Skybox Security. Prior to joining Skybox, Ragan was a writer and editor in the legal and STEM fields. She has a passion for the changing world of cyber security and is a self-confessed news junkie. Ragan earned her BA in English at Webster University in St. Louis.

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