How to Perform Attack Surface Analysis (ASA)

What is Attack Surface Analysis?

Last Updated on 6 December 2022 by Alastair Digby

The security and IT team’s toolkit should include Attack Surface Analysis (ASA) since it enables them to quickly identify and address vulnerabilities across their entire digital ecosystem.

Attack surface analysis is a contemporary method that comprises mapping, monitoring, and evaluating the complete digital attack surface in order to successfully uncover potential weak points.

What is the attack surface?

The attack surface refers to the totality of all possible security exposures that a malicious hacker could use to infiltrate a system or network. They come in various forms, are hyper-dimensional, and constantly evolving making them notoriously challenging to effectively monitor and manage.

Attack vectors are pathways a cybercriminal can exploit to gain privileged access to a network or system, and they are known as exposes or holes in cybersecurity.

Attack vectors to keep an eye out for include:

  • Development flaws
  • Social engineering scams
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi networks
  • Outdated software
  • Ransomware 
  • Third-party vendors
  • Compromised credentials
  • Misconfigurations
  • Zero-day vulnerabilities
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
  • SQL injections
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Missing patches

In the current digital climate, the threat of a cyberattack is ever-present. For most, it’s no longer a question of if but when an attacker will find an attack vector to exploit. Addressing your security vulnerabilities and protecting your sensitive data is a necessity.

What is Attack Surface Analysis?

Getting the big picture

Attack Surface Analysis provides organizations with a holistic view of their operations and assets to identify vulnerabilities (in real-time) that could be exploited by adversaries. 

The rise in remote working, cloudification, heavier reliance on IoT and other technologies is now central to most organization’s operations today. Without ongoing analysis and attack surface monitoring in place it increases the potential for attackers to exploit exposures if they aren’t identified and remediated swiftly. 

The damaging breaches increasingly frequenting front-page news are a wake-up call for all – cybersecurity needs to be prioritized in the boardroom. In light of this never-ending race against time to stay ahead of cybercriminals, ASA is a welcome solution for organizations to reduce their risk posture and secure their digital perimeter. 

Why is Attack Surface Analysis important?

Attack surface analysis is important because it helps identify potential vulnerabilities in a system or network. By examining the various ways in which an attacker might try to gain access to a system, organizations can take steps to reduce their attack surface and improve their overall security posture. This can include implementing stronger security controls, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, as well as regularly patching known vulnerabilities and monitoring network activity for suspicious behavior. Conducting attack surface analysis can also help organizations prioritize their security efforts and allocate resources more effectively.

How does Attack Surface Analysis work?

Attack surface analysis provides a proactive approach to security with continuous monitoring and management of an organization’s complete digital perimeter and all the assets and vulnerabilities that contain, transmit, or process data. The main procedures outlined below are used to automatically populate an ASA database with critical security data, keeping you one step ahead of attackers while reducing the attack surface.

See what attackers see with asset discovery

The first step in attack surface analysis is knowing exactly what your attack surface is made up of – asset discovery identifies and locates all active and inactive assets on your network to map your digital ecosystem. Assets may be owned or used by your organization or third-party vendors, and include things like web applications, APIs, domain names, cloud storage, IP addresses, and IoT devices. 

Assess your risk posture with vulnerability discovery

The next step in attack surface analysis is identifying and analyzing all of your security flaws. Continuous vulnerability scanning provides real-time visibility of your threat landscape, so you can view it from an attacker’s perspective. In other words, it helps you find your weaknesses before an attacker!

Vulnerability Discovery also enables organizations to accurately assess their security posture with vulnerability prioritization and risk quantification, so you can focus on your real (rather than perceived) risk. By reducing the attack surface area, you inevitably make your organization less vulnerable to security breaches.


While achieving bulletproof cybersecurity is becoming progressively challenging for organizations, hacking is becoming easier as opportunities for attack increase. Yet, security leaders can take control of their organization’s digital ecosystem by implementing Attack Surface Analysis.

To find out how to reduce and secure your attack surface, get in touch today.