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How does EASM differ from CAASM and DRPS?

March 8, 2023


Today’s organizations have a plethora of tools and technologies to protect their systems and assets. While this is certainly a privilege, it can sometimes be tough to keep up with the ever-expanding lists of acronyms and tools out there.

Effective cybersecurity has become a top priority for organizations in today’s digital landscape. Tools for EASM, CAASM, and DRPS play a crucial role in upholding the security posture of modern tech organizations. More specifically, EASM and CAASM help organizations to manage and monitor their assets, allowing them to identify vulnerabilities in their infrastructure and take proactive measures to mitigate them before they can be exploited by cybercriminals. Furthermore, DRPS helps organizations to monitor and mitigate data breaches and the leakage of sensitive information. 

In this article, we’ll be diving into the detailed differences between EASM, CAASM, and DRPS tools. These three technologies have the same goal — protecting our assets — but they go about it in three distinct ways. By understanding the difference between these three technologies, it makes it easier to determine which one is the best fit for your organization and specific use cases.

What is EASM?

EASM stands for External Attack Surface Management. An EASM solution is a security technology that helps organizations keep track of their external assets and vulnerabilities. This can include things like discovering and cataloging Internet-facing hosts, running vulnerability scans on known and unknown assets, and prioritizing results for remediation.

One of the key differentiators of EASM is that it helps organizations gain visibility into their external attack surface. By continuously monitoring and scanning external assets, organizations can quickly identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities that could be attacked by anyone who has an Internet connection.

Many EASM solutions can automatically discover and catalog external assets, such as domain names, IP addresses, and web applications. Such discovery capabilities can also help organization’s identify assets that they weren’t even aware of.

EASM technologies often include a variety of features and capabilities. For example, many EASM solutions can automatically discover and catalog external assets, such as domain names, IP addresses, and web applications. Such discovery capabilities can also help organization’s identify assets that they weren’t even aware of. Such unknown assets could prove fatal if subject to subdomain takeover, especially if the organization had no idea that they existed in the first place. Once the discovery phase is complete, a comprehensive EASM solution will perform vulnerability scanning to identify potential weaknesses in these assets and provide tools and processes for managing and triaging the vulnerabilities that are discovered.

It’s important to note that not all EASM vendors offer vulnerability testing as a core capability, so be wary of vendors who only offer discovery data and don’t go beyond this. 

EASM technologies may also provide integrations with other security tools and processes, such as bug bounty programs, security incident and event management (SIEM) systems, and vulnerability management platforms. This allows organizations to seamlessly incorporate EASM into their existing security infrastructure and take a more holistic approach to managing their external attack surface.

What is CAASM?

CAASM, or Continuous Asset and Attack Surface Management, has certain similarities to EASM. Like EASM, CAASM helps organizations keep track of their assets and vulnerabilities and provides tools and processes for managing and mitigating potential risks.

One key difference between EASM and CAASM is the scope of assets that these two technologies cover. While EASM typically focuses on external assets, CAASM often includes both internal and external assets in its scope. Internal assets include software, firmware, or devices that are used by members of an organization, while external assets are Internet-facing and can include publicly routable IP addresses, web applications, APIs, and much more. CAASM solutions are typically more focused on identifying assets and their risks by integrating with your existing tech stack, often through APIs. EASM uses things like DNS records, Whois records, and Internet-wide scans to discover external-facing infrastructure. 

EASM solutions tend to be much easier to set up because they use the same techniques to discover assets belonging to all organizations, while CAASM solutions rely on integrations with existing tooling and internal networks. This means onboarding a CAASM solution can take time and resources from your security and developer teams.  What’s more, EASM technologies typically focus on automating the vulnerability management process, using advanced automation to prioritize and triage vulnerabilities. CAASM technologies, on the other hand, often rely more on manual processes and human expertise to manage vulnerabilities.

What is DRPS?

A Digital Risk Protection Service (DRPs) helps organizations to identify, analyze, and mitigate digital risks that affect their brand, reputation, and online presence. DRPs typically make use of automated tools and specialized expertise to monitor various sources (such as social media platforms, websites, and the dark web) for any signs of threats, vulnerabilities, or exposure.

Digital Risk Protection services aim to proactively detect and mitigate risks such as:

  1. Social media hijacking or brand impersonation
  2. Malware and phishing attacks related to the brand
  3. Data leaks or exposure of sensitive information online (such as dumped credentials and data breaches)
  4. Any other fraudulent or counterfeit activity that might damage a company’s reputation or intellectual property

DRPS differs from EASM because DRP focuses on monitoring sensitive information exposure, while EASM monitors the external attack surface and vulnerabilities. DRPS technology is particularly applicable for organizations who are interested in expanding their threat intelligence programs, which may not be as useful for application security organizations.

Understanding use cases of these technologies

As mentioned before, EASM, CAASM, and DRPS all aim to reduce cybersecurity risks, but they all go about it in a different way.

  • EASM is a standalone solution that focuses on discovering and monitoring the external attack surface of an organization, finding vulnerabilities in that attack surface and prioritizing them for manual remediation. These solutions deliver value sooner as they usually require whitelisting a few IPs to onboard.
  • CAASM solutions monitor internal and to some extent the external attack surfaces depending on the vendor’s product capabilities. A CAASM solution typically integrates with other discovery and vulnerability analysis tooling, collating data to help prioritize remediation efforts in a single location.
  • DRP solutions help organizations to identify, analyze, and mitigate digital risks to their brand, reputation, and online presence. They focus more on monitoring various online sources for any signs of sensitive data exposure, threats, or vulnerabilities. 

Choosing a solution that fits your organization’s individual needs

So, which technology is right for your organization: EASM, DRPS, or CAASM? The answer to this question ultimately depends on your specific security needs and priorities.

If your organization is primarily concerned with protecting its external assets, then EASM is likely the best choice. EASM solutions are specifically designed to provide visibility into external assets and vulnerabilities and can help organizations quickly identify and remediate potential risks. They’re also very quick to set up and come with minimal resource requirements. EASM vendors are also innovating on methods to discover unknown assets, which is increasingly valuable given the expansion of vulnerabilities in unknown assets.  

If your organization is looking to include monitoring of internal assets and has the human bandwidth to complete the necessary setups and integrations, then CAASM may be a better fit. It’s important to acknowledge that CAASM technologies require existing robust security infrastructure as well as more resources to onboard and manage long-term, but they include both internal and external assets in their scope, which can potentially provide a more holistic view of an organization’s security posture. Standalone CAASM solutions may also have limited vulnerability assessment capabilities.

Ultimately, all three solutions will improve your security posture – and importantly, all three can be used in tandem.

If you’re more concerned about sensitive data exposure, brand reputation, and online presence, then a DRPS might be what you’re after. If you have a brand that is quite sensitive to external factors (this is often the case for high-profile brands like Disney or Coca-Cola), I’d also recommend DRPS for its ability to spot potential risks associated with public representatives of your organization, like your CEO and other executives. A DRPS can be used in conjunction with a CAASM or EASM to great effect.

Ultimately, all three solutions will improve your security posture – and importantly, all three can be used in tandem. Which technologies you choose to implement will depend upon the resources that your organization has available as well as your threat model.

The right technology depends on your organization’s needs

EASM, CAASM, and DRPS are all valuable tools for managing and protecting an organization’s assets and vulnerabilities. At the end of the day, the right technology for your organization will ultimately depend on your specific security needs and priorities. 

To better understand your organization’s needs and priorities related to security, a good way to get started is by taking time to review your existing policies, compare them to best industry practices, and identify any areas for improvement. This can help clear the path for your team to prioritize investing in the right solution and consider next steps.

By carefully considering the differences between EASM, DRPS, and CAASM, you can bolster your security posture and better protect your systems and assets from potential threats.


Written by:

Luke Stephens

Based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, Luke is an experienced computer hacker, life hacker, and growth fanatic who heads up his own consultancy, Haksec, and creates content for hackers. Check out his YouTube channel.