Last Updated on 31 May 2022 by admin
As digital perimeters expand and evolve constantly, organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about the expanding attack surface and how to protect it. At the same time, CISOs, security teams, and IT leaders are struggling to secure the expanding attack surface while staying ahead of new threats.
Attackers are continuously attempting to find a weakness or entry point in one of the many pieces that make up your network. Any one of those pieces may have vulnerabilities that a threat actor can exploit which could lead to a damaging breach of sensitive data.
What is an attack surface?
The attack surface refers to the sum of all possible security exposures that an attacker could use as an entry point to penetrate a system or network. They are hyper-dimensional, constantly changing, and can grow rapidly, making them notoriously difficult to manage.
Due to the cumbersome nature of the attack surface, the role of CISOs has become one of the toughest and most demanding in the business world. In fact, nearly 80% of senior security and IT leaders lack confidence in their cyber security posture.
What are the types of attack surfaces?
Any systems or networks that hold and/or have access to sensitive and/or privileged information need to be thoroughly inspected for security weaknesses. Below are the three types of attack surfaces.
Digital attack surface
This refers to the total vulnerabilities on the hardware and software – everything outside of the firewall where internet-facing assets such as websites, code, ports, email servers, and mobile applications are located. External digital assets can be known or unknown to you, and a common issue is the presence of shadow IT which can pose considerable risk to your security posture.
Physical attack surface
This refers to endpoint devices like mobiles, desktop systems, or USB ports for example. As we move towards an increasingly digital future, businesses are using a wider variety of devices and in higher volume, providing more opportunities for an attacker to gain access to sensitive data and cause a ransomware attack.
Human attack surface
People can also be included in the attack surface too; this is called the human attack surface. Employees must understand how their IT environments work and be aware of potential dangers. Human error is one of the most common causes of data breaches today, with social engineering attacks like phishing being one of the most prevalent.
What is an attack vector?
Attack vectors are the individual exposures or vulnerabilities that make up the external attack surface. Using these exposures as pathways (or methods of attack), malicious actors can access, exploit, and steal data from a privileged digital environment.
What are examples of common attack vectors?
- Weak passwords
- Compromised (weak or stolen) credentials
- Phishing emails
- Insider threats
- Missing or poor encryption
- Third-party vendors
How to reduce your attack surface
Attack surface analysis consists of identifying, tracking, and managing assets. This has become a universal concern for many CISOs and IT leaders – irrespective of their size or sector. Real-time end-to-end visibility of the evolving external attack surface provides a birds-eye view of your digital ecosystem, allowing for better risk-detection and response – so it is fast becoming a necessity to help reduce your attack surfaces.
After all, you can’t remediate security flaws that you aren’t aware of, so visibility is key.
What is External Attack Surface Management and why is it important?
It enables organizations to map, track, understand and analyze their threat landscape – empowering them to think like an attacker. EASM provides optimum security coverage, providing insights on:
- what the components of your attack surface are
- where the attack vectors and exposures are located
- how to secure your organization from future data breaches and cyber attacks
Visibility (and analysis) of your threat landscape is not only important but necessary for resilience against today’s threats. The internet is everywhere now, and so is the threat of attack. Security strategies become meaningless if you aren’t aware of your precise vulnerabilities making EASM one of the best security practices across the board.
Understanding your attack surfaces is key to cyber resilience and avoiding a data breach. A solution like EASM will empower you to take the reins and reform your cyber security strategy, all the while helping you achieve compliance with new and changing data security stands.