How to Protect Your Business’ Attack Surfaces from Cyberthreats

In the last 5 years, cybercrime has reached frighteningly high levels. Currently, a ransomware attack happens every 10 seconds, with over 71% of all attacks being launched due to financial reasons. This considered, it’s not surprising to see that the majority of cyberattacks are business-targeting.

As cybercrime rages on, costing the world 10.5 trillion a year, organizations are beginning to look at their attack surfaces with the hope of diminishing the chance that they’re targeted. In this article, we’ll be discussing attack surface management, looking at solutions you can integrate to defend your business online.

What are Attack Surfaces?

Simply put, an attack surface is a way of summarizing all the possible security risk exposures that your business could face. This could be due to a particular system that your business uses, password, leaks, vulnerabilities in a certain ecosystem, or failed software integration. Anything digital that links to your business can also be a security risk.

Due to the extensive networks that we construct in this modern world, the size of attack surfaces are now incredibly vast. From cloud applications to email services and browser penetration, there really is an infinite list of different mechanisms that malicious users could target to gain access to your business.

Why Don’t People Protect Their Attack Surface?

While many security experts endeavor to protect their organization’s security networks to the greatest extent possible, they never manage to protect everything. This is due to one simple fact – they don’t know every attack surface element, so they can’t protect them all.

As businesses have started to use software solutions, cloud storage, and online platforms to accommodate remote workers, there are now more access points than ever before. Due to this, a security expert will most likely not even be able to find all the potential entry points.

This leads to vulnerabilities in the system existing without being stopped. If someone with malicious intent finds one of these entry points within your business’ attack surface, you’ll be at risk to data loss, hacking, or losing control of your internal systems.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to defend against these breaches.

Can You Reduce Your Attack Surface?

Reducing your attack surface has the impact of further diminishing the potential access points that an attacker could use to infiltrate your system. 

To reduce your attack surface, you must first know exactly what compiles your attack surface, which is why attack surface management is even more important. That said, there are several ways that you can attempt to reduce your attack surface, even if you don’t know which are your most vulnerable access points.

To avoid being one of the businesses that falls prey to infiltration every 39 seconds, let’s focus on five active ways of reducing vulnerability:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication – Adding an additional layer of verification to your user log-on process will further force users to prove their identity to access your systems. Incorporating a protocol like this effectively reduces the ease of entry if a password leak has occurred. MFA is one of the easiest things to introduce to your business and can have drastic security benefits.
  • Split Your Network – Especially if you are a customer-facing business, splitting your network can help defend against infiltration. By having an employee network and a public network, you’ll make sure that there is one more layer between infiltration, ensuring that your critical assets remain completely private.
  • Encrypt Credentials – If you’re not already storing all employee credentials within an encrypted platform, you’re risking the exposure of your business. Including automatic rotation of these credentials ensures that IT assets are completely protected.
  • Close open ports – Be sure to close any open ports if the service is known to be vulnerable. Keeping ports open provides another mechanism of entry for malicious intent.
  • Reduce privileges – Users that are granted admin privileges can act as keys to your downfall if their user status falls into the wrong hands. If you reduce the number of users with these privileges, the chance of falling prey to this form of infiltration is reduced. 

Should I handle attack surface management automatically?

While it can be done, there are two central problems with attempting to manually manage an attack surface that make it unadvisable. The first of these is the simple fact that even the most advanced IT manager won’t be able to find 100% of the potential security breaches without help from a supporting system. 

Additionally, considering the extensive amount of attack strategies that could be employed by a potential hacker, it would be near impossible to create solutions for absolutely all of them manually. 

To better understand the extreme size of possible attack avenues, one can take a look at the MITRE Attack Database. This central hub provides a detailed list of different hacking strategies, which will instantly demonstrate how unlikely it would be to effectively handle this problem manually. 

Instead of trying to manage your business’ attack surface manually, we advise you to turn to using attack surface management software. This software will allow you to discover risks, analyze threat levels, and put in place mitigation tactics automatically. 

By turning to an automatic approach, you significantly improve the cyber defenses of your company, helping to keep you, your business, and your customers’ data safe. 

Final thoughts on Attack Surface Management

Protecting your business from online threats has never been more difficult in this digital age. Due to the sheer size of the attack surface through which potentially malicious users could gain access to your systems, creating a safe system is nearly impossible when managed manually.

However, with the development of attack surface management software systems, the task has now been automated. This move to automation represents a more comprehensive security solution, helping to project your attack surface as a holistic system. 

Being automated, this management then becomes 24/7, providing a more extensive, around-the-clock system of protection for your organization. 

You may be interested in: Why Cyber Security Training Is Increasingly Crucial