How to best protect your company’s attack surface

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With a hacker launching an attack every 39 seconds in the United States alone, the post-pandemic world is one filled with cybercrime that can have disastrous impacts on your business. As cases of cybercrime continue to rise, the total cost of cybersecurity has equally risen, with predictions expecting cybercrime costs to far surpass $6 trillion in 2022.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Part of what is continually pushing the total cost of cybersecurity upwards is the simple fact that a company’s attack surface is much more complicated than it ever has been before. While a digital footprint of a company 15 years ago could be traced and followed by a few cybersecurity experts, that’s no longer the case.

A company’s attack surface is incredibly vast, encompassing every single digital access point that they’ve created since its foundation. Due to this, it’s become vital for companies to understand their own attack surface, so that they are better prepared to protect it.

How Can I Protect My Company’s Attack Surface?

How to best protect your company's attack surface

Due to the sheer size of attack surfaces, they are a fairly difficult network to cover manually. However, that said, there is a range of different practices that you can incorporate into your working structure to ensure that people help to keep your surface manageable. These manual tactics are user-based and will require help from your staff.

The best tactics that you can use to minimize your company’s attack surface area:

  • Close User Monitoring
  • Increase User Education
  • Use Automated Tools

Let’s break these down further.

Close User Monitoring

One of the most commonly overlooked parts of an attack surface is user access points. User accounts, any account that you create so that an employee can access your systems, convert themselves into a potential entry point for hackers. While you need to create user accounts to allow your business to function, it also means that you should carefully monitor them.

Especially when an employee leaves the company, be sure to disable their account and all of its privileges as soon as they have left. If you get into the habit of leaving accounts open, then it’s likely that one of these could be used against you. Equally, if you’re in a large business that has a regular turnover of new and leaving employees, then this could become the first point of attack within your attack surface.

By using an account monitoring system and ensuring that every account of anyone that leaves your company is shut down, you can effectively reduce your attack surface and ensure that user account access is much less of a problem going forward.

A similar effect can be produced when limiting the permissions of individual user accounts. Instead of giving everyone access to all the information stored within your data warehouses, be sure to limit users to only the extent of data they need. This is a preventative measure that will minimize the impact to your business if your attack surface is compromised through user access.

Increase User Education

How to best protect your company's attack surface

When you onboard a new employee, part of their introductory process will be getting to know the systems that they will be using on a day-to-day basis. While this is an important part of the process, you should also include an additional onboarding step, which is all about online safety.

User accounts are a major security risk, with the vast majority of these accounts being compromised by phishing attempts. If your business does not offer security training on how to identify and avoid phishing attempts, then you’re leaving your employees open to potentially giving away their user account to a hacker.

As user accounts are a primary area of the attack surface that hackers will target, it’s vital for you to make sure your employees are the first line of defense. Comprehensive internet security training will help to minimize the risk that your wide attack surface entails.

Use Automated Tools

Even the most comprehensive and educated security expert would have a hard time monitoring an entire attack surface, simply due to the fact that they cannot be in multiple places at once. An attack surface encompasses the entire digital footprint of your business, expanding across open ports, user accounts, and any digital data assets that your company uses.

What’s more, as businesses are becoming more complicated, their attack surface is becoming more invisible. Due to this, one of the most effective ways that you can ensure your attack surface is properly covered and managed is by moving to use automated tools. Automatic attack surface management programs will actively comb through your entire connected surface, checking on the health of various systems and testing your defenses.

Not only does this ensure that your attack surface is managed to a greater degree, but it also exposes weaknesses or points of vulnerability in your system. With these exposed, you can send your security experts to fix them.

These management tools will comb through all parts of your attack surface, using the MITRE ATT&CK Framework as a baseline of where to launch the next investigation. This comprehensive approach will keep all of your bases covered.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring the total protection of your business starts with making sure you understand the vast expanse which is your attack surface. Over time, your attack surface will continue to grow and potentially reach an unmanageable size.

While you can turn toward manual strategies of protecting your attack surface, like closing past accounts and ensuring your employees understand how to minimize their digital presence, this will still leave you with a lot of uncovered territories. That’s why we suggest that you turn directly to automatic attack surface protection tools. These will work around the clock to cover your attack surface, revealing potential weak points and making sure you can keep your business as safe as possible. By following these tips and practices, you’ll be on the right track toward keeping your business secure.

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Last Updated on June 9, 2022.

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