The Attack Surface of an organisation can be defined as the entire set of devices and systems that can be the target during a cyber-attack. It includes all access points that an unauthorised actor could potentially exploit to gain illicit access to the systems and perform malicious activities. The wider the attack surface, the more difficult it is to protect it because of the greater exposure to multiple threats.
All those organizations that want to secure their Attack Surface in order to protect the corporate environment need to perform an Attack Surface Assessment, so as to gain information and visibility regarding their infrastructure. The purpose is to discover exposed assets and prevent breaches and attackers. Through the Attack Surface Assessment, an organization can gain visibility upon all its resources that are externally exposed, both managed and unmanaged.
Typical Attack Surface Management approach aims to make a company both identify what is mostly exposed among its assets and also understand the threat context behind each specific asset. The most important aspect for a company that want to properly address the Attack Surface Management is to combine the inside-out and outside-in views to detect exactly what is exposed, its level of vulnerability and whether it has already been compromised.
Providing an inventory of the digital footprint of the organization represents the very first step to properly manage the Attack Surface. Typically, this applies not only to hardware, but also on websites, IP addresses, SaaS deployments, third-party infrastructures, etc. By having this information available, the security teams can identify assets exposed to higher risk through a Threat intelligence Platform (TIP), which automatically collects and reconciles intelligence data from various sources and in different formats. This allows remediation activities to be prioritised and vulnerabilities to be proactively fixed before a serious attack can occurs.
Any organisation should analyse the risks related to its Attack Surface and introduce measures to reduce it by re-evaluating it periodically over time. Therefore, it is good practice to continuously perform this type of operation by means of automatic tools and periodic, manual analyses and checks.