Continuous threat exposure management - CTEM

Strengthening your defenses is not something organizations can hope to achieve overnight. Given that, CTEM emerges as a lighthouse for organizations making their way through uncharted waters, guiding them through foggy seas of potential threats. Unlike traditional, episodic approaches to threat management, CTEM is about keeping the ship steady and course-correcting in real time.

What is continuous threat exposure management?

CTEM is shaking things up and stepping away from the old-school, reactive game plan and leaning into a more proactive stance. With an eye on the digital scene around the clock, spotting those potential troublemakers (read: threats), and getting the lowdown on where your digital space might be a bit too open for comfort. 

What sets CTEM apart from the usual run-of-the-mill threat handling is its layered defense strategy. It’s not just one trick up its sleeve; it’s a whole arsenal, from peering into vulnerabilities to having a game plan ready for when things go south. Each layer has its own role, but together, they form a tight security net. 

CTEM by Gartner

Continuous threat exposure management by Gartner is a detailed framework with a step-by-step approach, tailored to meet the complex needs of today’s digital environments:

  1. Scoping: This step is about mapping your digital terrain. It involves identifying critical assets, systems, and data within your infrastructure, providing a foundation for what needs to be protected.
  1. Discovery: Here, the focus is on uncovering vulnerabilities and potential threats which involves thorough scanning and assessment to reveal weaknesses that could be exploited using advanced tools and techniques.
  1. Prioritization: Given the vast number of vulnerabilities that can exist, this step is key to analyzing and ranking threats based on their potential impact and likelihood, ensuring resources are allocated effectively.
  1. Validation: At this stage, you conduct simulated attacks to evaluate the strength of your defenses, pinpointing where they stand strong and where they need shoring up.
  1. Mobilization: Finally, armed with insights from the previous steps, you implement strategies to strengthen your defenses. This involves not just the tech process — you must also revise your policies and focus on enhancing team training.

Automation in CTEM

Automation is integral to the very concept of CTEM, significantly enhancing efficiency, reducing manual labor, and facilitating swift adaptation to emerging threats. Here’s an overview of its role across different stages:

  1. Discovery: Automation in the discovery phase is all about efficiency. It’s about scanning the organization’s entire digital infrastructure, identifying vulnerabilities across a range of assets — from the clear-cut to the not-so-obvious. Here, the efficiency of automation extends beyond general vulnerability identification to include nuanced elements like automated secrets scanning, necessary for an end-to-end security overview.
  1. Prioritization: In prioritization, automation’s role is data-driven decision-making. It sorts through vast amounts of data, determining which vulnerabilities are the most critical based on factors like impact, exploitability, and relevance to the organization. 
  1. Validation: Here, automation steps up for realistic testing. Using tools like BAS and Security Control Validation, it simulates real-world attacks to genuinely test the organization’s defenses.
  1. Mobilization: Finally, in the mobilization phase, automation smooths out the process of fixing vulnerabilities. It streamlines communication and task assignment through automated ticketing systems and SOAR platforms.


With all its boons, CTEM automation also comes with a host of challenges. Key among these is the complexity of integrating automation tools with existing systems, particularly when dealing with legacy systems or varied technological environments. Equally critical is managing the automation to prevent a secrets sprawl, ensuring sensitive data isn’t excessively exposed due to automated processes. Additionally, there’s the issue of over-reliance on automation, which, while efficient for routine tasks, lacks the nuanced decision-making of human experts, making it essential to strike a balance between automated processes and human oversight.

Entro and CTEM

The challenges listed above necessitate a thoughtful approach to implementing automation in CTEM, ensuring it complements rather than overshadows human expertise and adapts effectively to the dynamic threat landscape. 

Entro seamlessly aligns with the CTEM process and enhances its effectiveness by providing end-to-end visibility into the lifecycle of secrets. It offers features like anomaly detection and misconfiguration alerts, thus reinforcing the discovery, prioritization, and validation pillars of CTEM. What’s more is that its non-intrusive, context-rich approach aids in identifying and managing threat exposure efficiently, making it a valuable tool for organizations aiming to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. Click here to know more.

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