Connect with us

Business

Why is attack surface management so important?

Attack surface and management is one of the most important cyber security dimensions that organizations need to consider.

Computer with lock cyber security

With many organizations migrating and expanding their business systems beyond the confines of locally hosted infrastructure, the points of contact with threat actors are steadily increasing.

These points of contact are referred to as attack vectors.

Adding all these attack vectors together will form the organization’s attack surface. For organizations to protect themselves, they need to have complete visibility of their attack surface.

By implementing specialist tools that aid in attack surface discovery, like cyberpion for example,

They gain the ability to not only discover all of these vectors that make up their attack surface but also the ability to actively reduce their attack surface. 

Attack surface defined

online security data protection for domain name laptop
Image: Unsplash

The expression attack surface refers to the total number of possible attack vectors your enterprise has exposed to threat actors that might be used to conduct a malicious campaign against your organization.

To put it another way, how many technologies could threat actors use to breach your organization’s cyber security defenses?

At first glance, listing all networked nodes may appear to be an uncomplicated way to define your attack surface.

However, upon deeper analysis, you will discover many potential attack vectors you have not previously identified as possible entry points for threat actors.

Those nodes that we are familiar with are the most typical type of attack surface vector. This would encompass all managed systems within the organization.

From the workstations and servers to the publicly API-hosted websites and online services.

The second type of attack surface vector consists of all controlled technologies that have slipped away from the organization’s direct influence.

Whether dangers have been introduced without the IT team’s knowledge, such as Shadow IT, or whether there are online resources that IT teams and developers have disregarded.

Finally, even without the areas described above, businesses must also be able to deal with threat actors that can generate their resources.

From malware and social engineering to tools designed explicitly to impersonate your enterprise to acquire credentials and other critical information.

The importance of attack surface management

Attack surface and management lock on top of a computer keyboard
Image: Unsplash

While there is still a place for the traditional networked asset discovery and management of vulnerabilities, attack surface management is specifically aimed at changing an organization’s posture to proactive from a typical reactive model.

Attack surface management is a process of unceasing real-time discovery and monitoring of an enterprise’s attack vectors.

This includes prioritizing remediation tasks with the end goal of reducing identified and ambiguous attack vectors.

The advantage of attack surface management is that it addresses threat detection and vulnerability management from the attacker’s point of view. 

Strategies to reduce your attack surface

 First, to reduce an organization’s attack surface, it must ensure that healthy cyber hygiene practices are followed. By cataloging networked assets, many organizations might find neglected assets.

This might be an old development or test site created for a proof of concept or something similar.

These abandoned assets could introduce cyber risk, especially if user accounts utilized by production environments created them.

Implementing a zero-trust policy needs to be one of the requirements of an organization’s cyber security model.

This places security first and does not allow any account access to information or connections it does not explicitly need.

All employees and system users need to be educated about the risks of social engineering and the risks that insider threats pose.

By implementing strong passwords and pairing them with strong user access policies, organizations can reduce their attack surface considerably.

And finally, continual, real-time monitoring solutions with built-in heuristic models can give the organization the needed edge.

Therefore, to actively identify and eliminate attack vectors from their internal and external surface, essentially dynamically reducing them.   

Conclusion

laptop coffee mug notepad phone on wooden desk
Image: Unsplash

Attack surface and management is one of the most important cyber security dimensions that organizations need to consider.

By being proactive, organizations can address a vast majority of their security vulnerabilities before it becomes compromisable attack vector.

By partnering with industry specialists, organizations can not only stand a chance at protecting their data assets but also have the ability to reduce their attack surface.

Have any thoughts on this? Carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

More in Business