its place as an additional layer of defense in-depth strategy.
Attack path analysis provides a much more detailed and accurate representation of how attackers could potentially infiltrate a network compared to traditional security controls. By visually depicting all possible pathways to key assets, security teams can assess the potential risk, impact, and relationships between multiple attack scenarios and prioritize their mitigation efforts. This enables security teams to have a more holistic understanding of how malicious actors could enter and navigate their organization’s network, and what they could do once inside.
In addition to identifying, quantifying, eliminating, and managing attack path risks, attack path management involves asset inventory, threat modeling, and attack path validation. These processes help security teams measure the risks and ramifications from a connection, privilege, vulnerability, or misconfiguration, as well as identify and prioritize the security controls required to block or dismantle each path.
Various methodologies and tools help identify, validate, and visualize attack paths, but a network of any size requires an automated and scalable tool able to iterate over every facet of the IT environment. The deployment of security controls designed to detect and block anomalous activity as it enters the choke point is usually the best way to disrupt and close off the largest number of pathways.
Attack path management is not a one-off exercise, but a continuous activity to discover, disrupt, and monitor attack paths as they materialize and evolve. It also offers security teams the benefit of better understanding how the network connects and interacts with different components, as well as identifying the location of critical junctions. This type of analysis can also be applied retrospectively to review paths and patterns that attackers have tried in the past.
The benefits of attack path analysis and management go beyond improving the overall security of the network. It provides easy-to-consume visualizations of the ways an important resource could be compromised, allowing nontechnical stakeholders to grasp the potential risks and impacts of a cyberattack. It also leads to more informed decision-making, improved incident response and mitigation, and helps organizations mitigate supply chain risks by highlighting pathways created by third-party interactions and connections.
In summary, attack path analysis and management are important components of modern cybersecurity strategies. Deploying security controls designed to disrupt and close off attack pathways can greatly reduce the likelihood of a data breach, and this additional layer of defense can greatly improve the overall security of IT systems spread far and wide.