What is Attack Surface Analysis?

Last Updated on 2 March 2022 by Georgie Price

Attack Surface Analysis (ASA) is a powerful tool in a security professional’s arsenal – helping them efficiently identify and reduce security risks within their organization’s entire digital ecosystem. 

The modern approach involves the mapping, monitoring, and assessment of the complete attack surface to effectively pinpoint potential access 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 ever-evolving making them notoriously challenging to monitor and manage.

In cybersecurity, exposures or weaknesses are known as attack vectors – pathways by which a cybercriminal can use to gain privileged access to a network or system. Attack vectors to keep an eye out for

  • Development flaws
  • Social engineering scams
  • Unsecured wifi 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  • Outdated software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. 

New threats call for a new solution.

What is Attack Surface Analysis and why is it important?

Getting the big picture

As the name suggests, Attack Surface Analysis (ASA) takes a birds-eye, holistic view of an organization’s operations and assets to identify vulnerabilities (in real-time) that could be exploited by adversaries. 

With the rise in remote working, cloudification, heavier reliance on IoT and other technologies central to most business operations today, the attack surface implodes with opportunities for attackers. 

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 across the board. 

How does Attack Surface Analysis work?

ASA 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 core processes below are used to automatically populate an ASA database to supply organizations with essential security data – keeping you ahead of attackers while helping to reduce the attack surface.

The first step in ASA is knowing exactly what your attack surface is made up of – identifying and locating 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. 

The next step in ASA 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.

Conclusion

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.