What Is An Attack Surface?

Dec 23, 2019

In 2017, there were over 130 large-scale, targeted breaches in the U.S., and the numbers are growing every year by 27%. Professionals are always saying there is no such thing as perfect security. If this is true, then why aren’t all cyber vulnerabilities being exploited? It all has to do with what it's worth for the attacker. But to make sure the cost to exploit your organization outweighs the benefits, you need to understand the concept of an “attack surface.”

attack Surface

What is “Attack Surface”?

An “attack surface,” in cybersecurity, is defined as the number of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by an attacker. The smaller your attack surface, the less likely your organization will be exploited. Imagine a criminal deciding which building to rob. Between a building with multiple entries and another with just one, which do you think the criminal would choose? The latter would cost more time and energy to find a way to break in. This is how you want your organization to be. Fewer options for entry mean fewer possibilities of exploitation.

How to Minimize Your Points of Entry

  • Reduce coding: The less code you have, the less risk of exploitation. Keep things simple and eliminate any unnecessary features.
  • Clean up the OS: How many services in your OS are you using? Disable anything that is just taking up space.
  • Segmentation within your network: Having all your assets in one network may make things easier for you, but also your attackers. Increase your barriers by splitting things up!
  • Audit: When it comes to reducing your attack surface, the oldest trick in the book is regularly inspecting your software. This allows you to keep up-to-date with everything that goes on and map out any possible vulnerabilities.

Once you reduce your attack surface, remember that this doesn’t mean you’re vulnerability-free. Make sure you’re always aware of the vulnerabilities you still have. And always prioritize the biggest threats and act on them immediately!


Written by

Michael Assraf

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