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Digital Themes

Continuous threat exposure management (CTEM)

A continuous threat exposure management (CTEM) program is proactive, not reactive.

With CTEM, business do not address cyber threats in silos or in isolation. Instead, they continuously and proactively monitor their threat exposure.

Cyber threats have evolved, but so as risk management. As companies worldwide undergo digital transformations, attackers gain new entry points to companies’ systems. This is partly due to an evolving and expanding digital attack surface, which refers to all entry points that could be breached by an unauthorized user.

According to Gartner, Inc., a research and advisory firm, “Today’s cybersecurity attackers pivot fast, leaving organizations scrambling to automate controls and deploy security patches to keep up, but such tactics don’t reduce future exposure.”

Businesses unwittingly increase their attack surface simply by doing what they do best: expanding. As an organization expands – e.g., moves its data to new data centers, adds hardware or software, increases the number of authorized remote workers – it creates new entry points and thus expands its attack surface. According to CSO Online, “The global attack surface has grown with the internet, spanning multiple clouds, complex digital supply chains, and massive third-party ecosystems.”

Continuous threat exposure management (CTEM) answers the complex security issues of today. A continuous exposure management program replaces traditional vulnerability management program by working to continually improve risk identification through real-time monitoring. In this way, it contrasts with, and improves upon, traditional incident response.

One Identity, a Quest Software business, notes that CTEM can be achieved through regular audits, the limitation of public-facing assets, implementation of principle of least privilege, stronger authentication measures, and the building of applications that are secure by design.

“By 2026, organizations that prioritize their security investments based on a continuous exposure management program will be 3x less likely to suffer a breach,” according to Gartner analyst Kasey Panetta.

The benefits of such prioritization include the following:

  • Successful identification of security risks and threats
  • Cyber resilience
  • Avoidance of costs related to security breaches
  • Avoidance of reputational damage attached to businesses that suffer from a breach
  • Lowered risk of future threat exposure
  • The development of long-term solutions that work over time



Gartner, “How to Manage Cybersecurity Threats, Not Episodes,” January 11, 2024.

Microsoft Security. “Your Attack Surfaces Are Expanding. These Are the Three You Must Defend.” CSO Online, 13 June 2023,

One Identity. “What Is Attack Surface Expansion and Why Is It a Problem? .” One Identity, Quest Software, Accessed 11 Jan. 2024. 

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