How Exposed Is Your Attack Surface Really and How to Protect It

If you’ve visited any rapidly growing U.S. city, you’re familiar with the challenges posed by continuous road expansion. Major highways become gridlocked with a sea of automobiles, prompting transportation officials to approve further highway expansions. Although these expansions temporarily alleviate traffic, they also spur more residential and commercial development, which in turn adds more vehicles to the highways until gridlock returns. This cyclical process repeats itself, akin to the unintended consequences faced by King Midas, where everything he touched turned into gold.

The Digital Expansion of Business Today

Data has become the new gold for businesses today, with a multitude of applications and cloud services facilitating access to it and driving rapid business expansion. However, in our connected world, this digital expansion also broadens an organization’s risk exposure. Much like transportation officials struggle to keep up with road expansions, IT and cybersecurity teams are finding it challenging to stay abreast of the pace of digital transformation. This expansion manifests in various forms, from migrating applications and services to multiple cloud platforms to the seemingly simple act of installing a software patch, which can inadvertently introduce new vulnerabilities later.

Understanding your Attack Surface

If you operate a small business from a spare bedroom, your attack surface is likely limited to a single computer and a few cloud services. Conversely, if you’re managing a regional, national, or multinational organization, your attack surface expands significantly to include data centers, remote offices, multiple cloud environments, and edge locations. A company’s attack surface refers to the sum of all the potential security risk points or vulnerabilities where an unauthorized user can try to enter or extract data. Essentially, it encompasses every point of interaction with the digital environment that could be exploited by attackers. This extensive scope presents a broad area to defend and numerous opportunities for potential attackers. Securing today’s ever expanding attack surface is essential for ensuring business continuity in a constantly evolving threat landscape.

The Makeup of your Attack Surface

The attack surface of your business is made up of a conglomerate of different systems and technologies. For starters, there is the physical attack surface that includes every device that connects to the organization’s network. Whether remotely or in-house, it is still part of the attack surface. This includes computers, mobile devices, printers, and other IoT devices. Endpoints are frequent targets for initial compromise via malware, phishing, or other attack vectors.

The digital attack surface encompasses all your software operating systems and applications, whether they are installed on client devices or servers. This includes vulnerabilities such as unpatched exploits or insecure software configurations that can provide avenues for threat actors. It also covers websites and associated web applications that interact with users and other systems via APIs, where web vulnerabilities may allow attackers to inject malicious code, steal data, or disrupt service operations.

One of the most susceptible components is the human attack surface, where cybercriminals exploit unsuspecting users through phishing, social engineering, and other manipulative tactics to gain network access. Another critical area is the cloud in which challenges such as limited visibility, overly broad access control policies, and configuration errors can significantly increase the risk of disruption and scale up potential damage to the business. Even more concerning is the presence of Shadow IT, where users initiate unauthorized technology without the knowledge of your IT department.

Shoring up Your Attack Surface

Attackers don’t require an open front door to infiltrate your network. A small oversight like an unused but open port, a single unpatched piece of software, or an employee’s weak password can suffice. Therefore, it is crucial for those responsible for your organization’s security to identify all such potential entry points and secure them effectively. Some of the measures to harden your attack surface include:

  • Regular vulnerability assessments that scan for issues like outdated software, unpatched security flaws, misconfigurations, and open ports.
  • A strict patch management strategy to ensure that all software and systems are up to date with the latest security patches.
  • An adherence to least privilege access control that grants users the minimum level of access necessary to fulfill their roles.
  • Disabling all unnecessary services, applications, features, and ports on all systems.
  • Continuous monitoring to detect and respond to suspicious activities promptly before any major impact can take place.

These steps represent just a few of the many actions that businesses can take to systematically address their comprehensive attack surface. The challenge lies in coordinating these tasks and effectively aggregating and analyzing the data collected from the numerous disparate tools across your network.

Secure your Surface with an MDR

You can’t have an ad hoc approach to cybersecurity these days. A Managed Detection and Response solution centralizes your monitoring, threat detection and response efforts. An advanced MDR employs sophisticated tools and technologies needed to keep up with bad actor’s new strategies and tools. These include artificial intelligence and machine learning, to continuously monitor and analyze network traffic, endpoints, and other critical systems for anomalies.  While most MDRs bombard clients with potential and irrelevant alerts concerning their environment, leading to alert fatigue and potentially missing critical incidents, CYREBRO MDR actively analyzes and correlates massive amounts of threat data to reduce unnecessary noise and piece together an attack story in its early stages.

The cornerstone of a robust MDR solution is the ability to accurately identify and prioritize threats. By understanding a business’s typical activity, including the operating systems they use and cloud environments they work in, MDR can establish a baseline to detect unusual activity that might be suspicious or malicious.


As your attack surface expands, so does your risk. This is why employing a risk equalizer such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is crucial. MDR not only reduces your attack surface but also diminishes the internal manual effort required to manage it. Centralizing threat detection and mitigation goes beyond just advanced security technologies. It also involves a team of dedicated cybersecurity experts who can leverage advanced security tools and their own experience to effectively manage your expanding attack surface. This alleviates the burden on your security team, allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives.

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