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Understanding and Minimizing Attack Surfaces

Safeguarding Your Business

Summary Excerpt

Put simply, an attack surface is the sum total of all the ways a malicious actor could gain unauthorized access to your system or network.

Understanding and Minimizing Attack Surfaces

Safeguarding Your Business

A recent survey of 200 cybersecurity and IT professionals directly involved with their organization’s cybersecurity strategies found that 98 percent of respondents consider attack surface monitoring a “Top 10” security priority1. However, despite this, few organizations do attack surface management well. For example, an eye-watering 69 percent of companies have experienced an attack originating from an unknown, unmanaged, or poorly managed asset2. This is why minimizing attack surfaces is so important for business IT security today.

What Is an Attack Surface? And Why Is Reducing It Important?

Put simply, attack surfaces are the sum total of all the ways a malicious actor could gain unauthorized access to your system or network. It’s the collection of potential vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.

Reducing your attack surfaces is a critical cybersecurity measure because the more extensive the attack surface, the more opportunities hackers have to launch successful attacks. Think of it like a house with multiple entry points. If you have many windows and doors that aren’t properly secured, a burglar will have an easier time breaking in. But if you take steps to secure those entry points, like installing locks and alarms, you’re making it much harder for them to get in. The same principle applies to your digital systems and IT networking.

How to Reduce Your Company’s Attack Surface

Reducing your company’s attack surface is essential for securing your digital systems and networks. Let’s dive in and explore some specific strategies for minimizing your attack surface.

Vulnerability Management and Regular Vulnerability Scans

One of the best ways to identify potential vulnerabilities is by conducting regular vulnerability scans. These scans can reveal weaknesses in your network or applications that cybercriminals can exploit. Once identified, you can take steps to address these vulnerabilities, like patching software or updating configurations.

Implement Network Segmentation

Network segmentation involves dividing your network into smaller, isolated segments. By doing so, you can restrict access to certain areas of your network, reducing the number of entry points that a cybercriminal can use to gain access to your data. For example, you might segment your network to separate your payment processing system from your customer database, limiting the potential damage if one area is compromised.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a powerful tool for securing access to your systems and applications. By requiring multiple forms of authentication, such as a password and a biometric factor like a fingerprint, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful attack. For example, you might use MFA to secure access to your company’s VPN or email accounts.

Train Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Your employees are often the first line of defense against cyber-attacks. By providing regular training on cybersecurity best practices, you can help them identify and respond to potential threats. This might include phishing awareness training, training on creating strong passwords and handling sensitive data securely.

Implement Least Privilege Access

Least privilege access means giving users the minimum access necessary to perform their jobs. By doing so, you can limit the potential damage if a user’s account is compromised. 

Final Thoughts

By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and regularly reviewing and updating your security measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful cyber-attack.

Need help reducing your attack surface? Protect your business from cyber threats with ProStratus’ managed IT security services. Our team of experts will work with you to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes vulnerability management and proactive threat monitoring.

1 https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/94090-attack-surface-management-is-critical-but-few-organizations-do-it-well

2 https://www.scmagazine.com/news/cloud-security/most-organizations-had-an-unknown-or-unmanaged-internet-facing-asset-exploited

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