With the advancements in the digital ecosystem, the risk and complexity of modern-day online attacks and threats have also increased.
According to reports, half of the Fortune 500 companies had their employee passwords and email addresses exposed in top hacker forms. The exposure of the employee credentials can provide direct access to vital company information to the hackers, which can badly harm an enterprise.
Experts believe hackers cost companies $400 billion per year, and these numbers are likely to increase if all the organizations do not minimize the attack surfaces.
An attack surface is the area of the enterprise network that is prone to hacking. Hackers can access the potential access points of the networks to damage the enterprise by manipulating and stealing essential data.
But you can prevent these attacks and minimize the damages by conducting an attack surface analysis. Following a strategic security approach and plan, you can reduce the risk of cyber extortion and sophisticated attacks on your enterprise.
We have prepared a dedicated guide on attack surface analysis to help you prevent your organization from falling victim to another enterprise security breach. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is an Attack Surface?
To kick-start the attack surface analysis, you need to understand the basics of the attack surface. As explained above, an attack surface is the external faced area of your internal network that is prone to hacks.
An attack surface includes multiple attack vectors, such as protocols, services, access points. Hackers can exploit these touchpoints and use these attack vectors to bypass the network firewall.
Once past the company firewall, hackers can extract employee records, financial records, protected data, and product information to harm organizations in multiple ways.
Experts analyzed the current attack vectors of top domains globally and figured out problems with:
- Expired certificates The top companies in the world had 300 vulnerabilities linked to expired certificates.
- Vulnerable web components 2,500 of the top domains had servers running with one weak component that makes the sites susceptible to attacks.
- Public dev sites Over 700 of the top domains were web-accessible, making them vulnerable to online threats.
Being a modern-day enterprise, you need to safeguard your online network from sophisticated attacks and secure your vital data from being lost or stolen.
The attack surface threats skyrockets with the switch to work from the home culture in enterprises. The devices connected to the home network are prone to vulnerabilities that could lead to data loss and network breaches.
The best solution to avoid heavy business losses and data-stealing are to strengthen your shield remotely and on-premises. And your first line of defense is attack surface analysis.
Attack Surface Analysis
An attack surface analysis is your gateway to spot potential attack points on your company’s ecosystem and future risks.
With thorough research analysis, you need to understand your security environment to minimize the attack surface and prevent your organization from complex and advanced attacks and threats.
The attack surface analysis won’t fix loopholes. Still, it can enable you to strengthen your arsenal from future attacks and data losses by making your business network more safe and secure.
Go through the below points to get a brief idea regarding the roadmap of your attack surface analysis:
- Spot vulnerabilities Your organization’s attack surface includes the access points of your network. But it also includes the data path of the incoming and outgoing data on the network and the protective layers of the path, like encoding, passwords, and other vulnerabilities.
- Focus on user types Focus on the user type who can access different points on the network. Keeping an eye on the access can help you minimize the risk and provide you with more control over your enterprise network.
- Risk assessment Spot the most user types and maximum vulnerabilities areas. The filtered-out areas are the ones you need to address first to minimize the attack surface.
- Secure reporting Look out for rules and regulations while handling a data break. Focus on quickly responding to threats.
The roadmap takes months to be measured—the more profound and thorough the entire process, the better and safer your enterprise.
You can focus on two strategies to achieve better attack surface analysis results.
Attack Surface Analysis Strategies
There are two strategies you can use for conducting your attack surface analysis:
- External attack surface analysis The external attack surface analysis looks at how a hacker sitting in the world's corner can try to access your data stores using multiple strategies or an external approach. The purpose of the external analysis is to tighten the data leak possibilities by the external systems—all the APIs and managed services that process data for your need to be looked upon.
- Internal attack surface analysis The internal attack surface analysis is about diving inside the enterprise network and looking for how a user account on your network can access your vital data. Its purpose is to spot and block hijacked accounts and insider threats that can cause damage to your organization. Internal attack surface analysis helps prevent phishing damages where the hacker steals the credentials of the employee or user.
These attack surface analyzes are like the vulnerability scan that can help you strengthen your enterprise’s network or system weakness.
Now let’s dive deep into the aim of the attack surface analysis and why it’s essential for your enterprise.
The Focus of Attack Surface Analysis Strategies
The primary aim of attack surface analysis is to spot the system weaknesses and figure out the ideal way to minimize the threats caused by those weaknesses.
If your enterprise can minimize the attack surface, you’ll be able to fulfill the primary purpose of attack surface analysis.
The internal surface analysis focuses on different user accounts and their management. You need to define each user group set up on the access and identity management. Then, you need to check each user account and figure out the group it belongs to.
The backend accounts used for automated processes extend the attack surface. You need to tighten the access control to ensure that the attack surface is kept minimal while maintaining a smooth workflow.
The access point that lies on the exterior of the home network is looked at in the external attack surface analysis. The majority part includes the APIs and the cloud services. The analysis includes identifying different external services and functions and then the data types each service and function handle.
Also, the external attack surface analysis aims to extract the information related to the security processes of the external functions and services. The information includes access controls on remote users' data encryption systems for storage and transfer.
Third-party risk management is also a vital part of external attack surface analysis. It helps to figure out data leak events that enable it to determine the weaknesses of the cloud services.
But there have been recent changes in the attack surface analysis due to the pandemic and popularity of remote working. Let’s have a look.
The Evolution of Attack Surface Analysis Strategies
Due to a recent shift in work culture, external attack surface analysis has become more vital. With the restriction on physical stores, many businesses have opened their interface accessible to the customer, which was previously restricted to the in-house employees.
The exposure has turned the systems into the external attack surface and is targeted by hackers to penetrate your systems. With more businesses switching towards providing a contact-less customer experience to their customer, a robust external attack surface analysis is required.
The dependency on off-the-shelf web solutions has increased, resulting in increased complications to track the software hosting on the external surface.
Now that we have understood the nitty-gritty elements for attack surface analysis let’s understand the implementation.
Implementing an Attack Surface Analysis
The implementation of attack surface analysis requires specialized skills to get the desired results. A team of professional penetration testers is the ideal choice for dedicated attack surface analysis.
The pen tester or penetration tester acts as a professional hacker and implements every strategy to penetrate the network or system. Companies don’t associate with a hacker because it can compromise the entire security of their system or network. That's why a pen tester is hired.
The implementation of attack surface analysis starts with identifying different data stores and categorizing them with different sensitivity levels. WIth different sensitivity classifications for different locations, first, isolate the highest-rated data sets and track multiple access points to the particular data.
Figuring out all the access points for every data classification in different data stores, you’ll get all the data flows. Then you need to set the boundaries between the external and the internal systems.
Attack Surface Analysis Results
Once you are done with the data access mapping, you can figure out different ways to reduce the attack surface of your network. Use access right management for internal attack surface and for external attack surface use third-party analysis to get the desired results.
Knowing your organization’s network or system inside out can help you get an edge over the hackers. A hacker will probe a range of different entry points and try trial and error, which can be time-consuming.
By performing the attack surface analysis, you can arrive quickly at the access points and find a robust solution to guard the boundaries of your enterprise.
You can also solidify the internal security of your infrastructure by educating users regarding the potential threat of phishing attacks and loss of credentials.
Performing an attack surface analysis can be a complex task, but having expert testers’ backing can help you strengthen your network and security and minimize the risk of data loss.
Using professional attack surface tools is more straightforward than the tedious manual procedure.
Attack Surface Reduction Strategies
Reducing the attack surface is the ultimate goal for your enterprise to minimize the risk of online threats and attacks. Look at these strategies that can help you achieve the desired result:
- Lockdown access points and areas with unusual and unauthorized traffic. Ensure that selective people have access to vital information and you have complete access control on your network.
- Create a routine cleanup schedule and ensure that you remove the expired certificates.
- Ensure that you run the latest and advanced codes with increased security. You don’t want to run code that is no longer necessary or out of date.
- Make your users aware of the importance of usernames and passwords and avoid phishing attacks. Use two-factor authentication to strengthen the ecosystem.
- Check your network health periodically and ensure that you stay updated with minor and major problems occurring in the network.
There are multiple other add-ons you can include in the above list. But these are a few basic things you need to perform to ensure that you can minimize the attack surface.
5 Steps Reduce Attack Surface
Tighten your security protocols following the below steps so that you don’t have more cleanup tasks after the future attack surface analysis.
- Ensure that none of the users have access to your resources before proving their device’s identity. Allowing everyone access to different aspects of your network can compromise your company’s security, and it can harm your ecosystem.
- Your employees need access to your network to perform their specific tasks and help your organization scale, but their access should be restricted once they leave the organization. Link human resources with security policies for improved security.
- Using strong authentication to check the access control of the users thoroughly is a vital element to avoid data stealing and unexpected intrusions.
- Back up your code and data and use strict protection to ensure that nobody can harm your enterprise data.
- Create multiple protection layers for improved security of your network so that it gets difficult for hackers to penetrate through the layers and damage your organization.
Monitor your network regularly and give importance to robust reporting for better future decisions to protect your network.
Strengthen Your Enterprise Security
With the complete guide for attack surface analysis, you are now equipped to make well-informed decisions to strengthen your company’s network.
Use attack surface analysis, figure out the loopholes, craft strategies, and save your organization from falling victim to enterprise security breaches.
If you don’t want to indulge in the complex and technical process of attack surface analysis, hire expert pen testers or outsource the task to a dedicated security firm.
Keep your organization protected and safe from sophisticated attacks and achieve your business targets seamlessly.