CTEM 101 – Go Beyond Vulnerability Management with Continuous Threat Exposure Management


In a world of ever-expanding jargon, adding another FLA (Four-Letter Acronym) to your glossary might seem like the last thing you’d want to do. But if you are looking for ways to continuously reduce risk across your environment while making significant and consistent improvements to security posture, in our opinion, you probably want to consider establishing a Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) program.

CTEM is an approach to cyber risk management that combines attack simulation, risk prioritization, and remediation guidance in one coordinated process. The term Continuous Threat Exposure Management first appeared in the Gartner ® report, Implement a Continuous Threat Exposure Management Program (CTEM) (Gartner, 21 July 2022,). Since then, we have seen that organizations across the globe are seeing the benefits of this integrated, continual approach.

XM Cyber is hosting a webinar featuring Gartner VP Analyst Pete Shoard about adopting the CTEM framework on March 27 and even if you cannot join, we will share an on-demand link, don’t miss it!

But why is CTEM popular, and more importantly, how does it improve upon the already overcrowded world of Vulnerability Management?

Central to CTEM is the discovery of real, actionable risk to critical assets. Anyone can identify security improvements in an organization’s environment. The issue isn’t finding exposures, it’s being overwhelmed by them – and being able to know which pose the most risk to critical assets.

In our opinion, a CTEM program helps you:

With a CTEM program, you can get the “attacker’s view”, cross referencing flaws in your environment with their likelihood of being used by an attacker. The result is a prioritized list of exposures to address, including ones that can safely be addressed later.

Rather than a particular product or service, CTEM is a program that reduces cyber security exposures via five stages:

There are several alternative approaches to understanding and improving security posture, some of which have been in use for decades.

It is our opinion that a CTEM program-based approach offers the advantages of:

We feel that the CTEM approach has substantial advantages over alternatives, some of which have been in use for decades. Fundamentally, organizations have spent years identifying exposures, adding them to never-ending “to do” lists, expending countless time plugging away at those lists, and yet not getting a clear benefit. With CTEM, a more thoughtful approach to discovery and prioritization adds value by:

Since CTEM is a process rather than a specific service or software solution, getting started is a holistic endeavor. Organizational buy-in is a critical first step. Other considerations include:

In our view, with a CTEM program, organizations can foster a common language of risk for Security and IT; and ensure that the level of risk for each exposure becomes clear. This enables the handful of exposures that actually pose risk, among the many thousands that exist, to be addressed in a meaningful and measurable way.

For more information on how to get started with your CTEM program, check out XM Cyber’s whitepaper, XM Cyber on Operationalizing The Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) Framework by Gartner®.


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