Report Reveals 600% Growth in Cloud Attack Surface

JupiterOne, a cyber asset visibility and management company, released its State of Cyber Assets Report (SCAR). The report analyzed more than 291 million assets, findings and policies to establish the state of cloud and physical environments of devices, networks, apps, data and users.

The research helps CEOs, CISOs, and security leaders understand the impact of the expanding attack surface on security complexity and uncovers the shocking growth in the average cybersecurity teams’ responsibilities.

Cyber assets increased by 133 percent year-over-year, from an average of 165,000 in 2022 to 393,419 in 2023. Organizations also saw the number of security vulnerabilities, or unresolved findings, increase by 589 percent, indicating a snowball effect as the number of assets more than doubled. The number of security vulnerabilities did not grow in direct proportion to the number of assets, which may be attributed to an actual increase in unresolved vulnerabilities and the adoption of new technologies for vulnerability identification.

Mid-sized organizations, defined as 50 to 499 employees, were the further along in building security visibility with the highest number of aggregated data sources. On average, large-sized organizations had 2,011 assets per employee, small organizations 681, and mid-sized organizations 489.

Mid-sized organizations had the lowest asset-to-employee ratio, and since fewer assets per employee can indicate a higher ratio of talent resources to manage the asset lifecycle, this could be due to greater sophistication in engineering practices and better habits for asset destruction, lifecycle management, or ephemeral engineering practices.

By analyzing millions of data points to summarize the state of cyber asset inventories each year, JupiterOne researchers learn where security practitioners are focused at nearly 250 organizations across sizes and sectors.

Over the past 12 months, there has been almost unprecedented growth in the security practitioners’ inventory of cyber assets, which has demanded entirely new levels of visibility, automation and practice among resource-strapped security teams. The growth in cyber assets and findings has multiple implications for the enterprise:

  • Unified Cyber Insight is Crucial – Security practitioners aren’t omniscient. Visibility into cross-system relationships is only as good as the integration and correlation across data sets. The average security team correlates 8.67 security data sources for unified cyber insight. Unified cyber insights matter a lot if anyone wants to effectively defend the cloud-native attack surface. However, teams may struggle to make a case for data access to systems owned or administered by other teams.
  • Cyber Assets are Business Assets – Everyone knows that modern businesses cannot function, let alone succeed, without their cyber assets in cloud and physical environments. Still, security teams have long struggled to convince business leaders how much cyber assets are worth. Understanding that the average asset is worth $17,711 in 2023 may not help security teams get enough budget. However, it is a start toward quantifying the value of cyber assets.
  • The Modern Attack Surface is Distributed – Security practitioners are responsible for an average of 334 unique cloud service provider (CSP) accounts in 2023 across all organizational sizes, or an average of 225 and 559 unique accounts at large and mid-sized organizations, respectively. Distributed cloud architecture methods create resiliency in the era of destructive ransomware attacks. But the hyper-growth in distributed cloud architecture has introduced an unprecedented era of complexity for cybersecurity teams, which must contend with more assets, less standardization across CSPs, and the necessity of unified cyber insight.

The 2023 State of Cyber Assets Report establishes the state of enterprise cybersecurity assets and liabilities across complex attack surfaces of cloud and physical environments of devices, networks, apps, data and user identities. The research examined asset characteristics and trends, asset superclasses, the cloud attack surface, asset relationships and overall implications.

The complete 2023 State of Cyber Assets Report, executive summary, and past research are available on the SCAR resource page. Read or download the full report here.

The SCAR team invites its readership to provide feedback on the findings and analysis within this year’s report. Any organization wishing to do so or become a SCAR contributor should contact for more information.