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Don’t let cyber threats sneak in through the back door—lock them down with these attack surface management tips.
Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, leaving your business vulnerable to attacks.
According to the latest data, 68% of organizations experienced an attack from unknown, unmanaged, or poorly managed company assets.
If you don’t want your business to add to that statistic, your best bet is to implement a solid attack surface management strategy.
Attack surface management allows you to approach your security infrastructure from an attacker’s perspective and uncover vulnerabilities.
It can help you learn the best measures to secure your company’s resources and assets, including improving your workplace security to keep your employees safe.
Continue reading to learn these five essential tips to manage and reduce your attack surface and improve your cybersecurity.
Attack surface management: A quick overview
Attack Surface Management or ASM is the process of continuously discovering, classifying, conducting inventory, security monitoring, and prioritizing external assets in your IT environment that contains, transmit, and process sensitive data.
Attack Surface Management covers the assets outside your firewall that attackers find and exploit to carry out attacks. It also helps mitigate the risks of cyber attacks that come from the following:
- Vendor-managed assets
- Unknown open-source software
- Legacy and shadow IT assets
- Outdated and vulnerable software
- Human error
- Intellectual property infringement
- Internet of Things (IoT)
A solid ASM strategy helps defend your physical and digital attack surfaces against cyber threats by giving your security team continuous visibility into your vulnerabilities.
You’ll also learn remediation tactics to address the discovered cybersecurity gaps before attackers exploit them.
Security experts can use ASM when implementing the MITRE ATT&CK framework, specifically in the reconnaissance section.
The reconnaissance stage is the first phase of the MITRE ATT&CK framework that focuses on identifying the data that adversaries gather to use in their future attacks.
5 Tips for Managing and Minimizing your Attack Surface
Take a more proactive approach to mitigate cyber attacks and recover from potential damages better with the attack surface management best practices below.
1. Set up firewalls and use encryption
Don’t overlook security controls such as firewalls to minimize your IT environment’s attack surface.
For example, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) ports often include vulnerabilities.
A firewall can restrict the number of TCP ports that give outsiders access, reducing potential risks.
Also, regularly update your software and systems to get the latest security patches.
Ensure all your online communication is encrypted, and only use platforms and websites with SSL and HTTPS certificates.
These SSL certificates which enables HTTPS can be categorized as single-domain SSL, multi-domain SSL, or Wildcard SSL certificate. To suit your needs for domains or subdomains, you can pick any of these.
2. Limit entry points
Restrict or limit the features that are accessible and available to external users to help manage your attack surface.
For instance, ensure that only registered customers and authorized users can access your online demos or intranet modules with exposed code.
You should also implement access restrictions on your administration and content management modules.
Set up other measures to restrict accessible entry points with these tips:
- Keep your admin modules on an isolated website
- Collect only necessary data, such as the customer information required to make a purchase
- Implement IP restrictions
- Use client certificates and obscure ports
- Keep sensitive data anonymous when possible
- Employ cloud workload protection to boost your cloud security and defend against breaches in cloud containers and workloads
- Validate and sanitize your web forms’ input to help prevent SQL injection
- Limit the file types users can upload and only allow authorized users to upload to keep your uploads secure
3. Eliminate redundant functionalities
Modern servers and operating systems usually have default configurations, such as enabling all application services and opening all ports.
A best practice is to configure these and your other assets, so they get the necessary updates. It helps ensure that your digital assets don’t introduce vulnerabilities into your IT environment.
Develop a cybersecurity and attack surface management process that includes reviewing your digital assets and turning off unnecessary apps, services, and functions.
Eliminating these redundant functions gives you fewer things to monitor and keep secure while reducing your attack surface.
It also makes it harder for attackers to infiltrate your IT environment, increasing your protection.
4. Remove unnecessary applications and codes
Limit the amount of code you expose (depending on the environment).
Doing so helps minimize the chances of attackers exploiting your code and gaining access to your systems.
Also, remove dead codes and hide unused parameters to reduce what attackers can use to breach your systems and data.
If the parameters are unused, consider eliminating them, so you don’t leave potential attack surfaces around.
Keep the number of third-party apps your company uses only to the essentials.
Using too many apps from other providers can pose threats since their source codes are often available to everyone.
Ensure your IT team tests and reviews third-party app codes before using them to avoid potential security vulnerabilities that often come with using these applications.
5. Use security automation
Manual and tedious tasks can slow down your attack surface management implementation and even render it ineffective.
After all, ASM is a time-sensitive endeavor since it’s crucial to spot your security vulnerabilities before attackers can find and exploit them.
Plus, manual processes can drain your limited time and resources, so you’re better off adopting security automation when it makes the most sense.
You don’t have to automate everything right away.
Start small by adopting automated attack surface discovery and assessment, then automatic coverage gaps remediation.
Find an ASM platform with features that can streamline attack surface management implementation.
Read reviews and forums, research, and reach out to your prospective provider to determine if the tool matches your needs.
Secure your Business Better with a Solid ASM Strategy
Cyber threats constantly evolve, so stay informed about the latest threats and trends and regularly review and update your attack surface management strategy.
Don’t wait until it’s too late; start securing your business today with this guide’s ASM tips.
Remember that attack surface management is an ongoing process, so continuously assess, measure, and optimize your strategy to reduce and remediate your attack surfaces effectively.
It’s also worth considering getting a few of your staff upskilled through an online ethical hackers course that they can access anytime and anywhere.