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What is the Attack Surface of a Network?

It’s estimated that there is a cyber attack every 39 seconds in the United States. A successful cyber attack can cost as much as $8.64 million per data breach making it more important than ever that companies take their cybersecurity seriously. One of the most important aspects of securing your company is Attack Surface Management (ASM), which is simply identifying, monitoring, and protecting assets that contain or process sensitive data. Your attack surface is every asset that could be targeted in a cyber attack, and there are three types of attack surfaces: digital, physical, and social engineering (your employees, contractors, and third-parties).

Why is Attack Surface Management Important?

Attack Surface Management is important because if you don’t know what assets you need to protect and what you need to protect them from, it’s impossible to implement an effective strategy. Also, if you work for a large organization with thousands of devices and people which are changing all the time, it’s important that you have an effective way of keeping track of all of those assets so that you can make sure they are secure.

In order to help facilitate this, we have put together 5 best practices for Attack Surface Management that will help you improve your organizational security:

1. Understand Your Attack Surface

The first thing you need to do is understand your attack surface. As mentioned earlier, there are three types of attack surfaces: digital, physical, and social engineering. When it comes to digital assets, these are things like servers, network endpoints, mobile devices, and any other device that may hold sensitive information or have access to the company network. Physical attack surface can mean things such as office spaces, physical access to facilities and servers, and any other physical asset that is valuable to the company. Lastly, social engineering attack surface comprises things such as social media that can be used to provide information to an attacker that would be used in a social engineering attack. You need broad visibility into all of these areas so you can assess where the risk is most concentrated in your company.

2. Continuously Monitor Your Security Endpoints

Second, you need a means of monitoring these different areas, particularly your security endpoints so that you can identify any malicious behavior and threats before they become a problem. This means things like having security endpoint solutions on laptops, social media monitoring for employees and other means of monitoring your environment. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have added digital endpoints outside of the corporate network (remote working) and this means you need to have stronger diligence in this area.

3. Benchmark Your Security Program Against Peers

Thirdly, you need to have a means of benchmarking your security program against other companies. If you don’t have metrics to measure your performance, you won’t know how well you are doing and that means you won’t be able to make the right adjustments towards your overall goal.

4. Determine Acceptable Risk Thresholds

Next, you need to understand your company’s risk tolerance. No matter how much you spend, you will always have some residual risk. From a business perspective: spending more money on cybersecurity isn’t always a good solution. Once you have an understanding of what you need to protect within your company, you need to determine what risks you are willing to accept because you can’t protect everything equally.

5. Perform Continuous Security Validations

The last element of having good Attack Surface Management is to have continuous security validations to ensure that your company has good cyber hygiene. This means having regular security testing, including penetration tests and attack emulations for the digital aspect, physical penetration tests for your physical assets, and social engineering tests to ensure that your employees can recognize and avoid social engineering attacks. This way you can be sure that the security controls you implemented are effective.

Alternatively, rather than investing in costly penetration tests, you can invest in a security solution that provides continuous security testing throughout your environment and can test your environment as devices are changed and added to the network. rThreat’s Breach and Attack Emulation technology provides continuous security validation by emulating the attack techniques of threat actors that are known for targeting companies with a similar profile to their clients. You can read more and request a demo of the product here.

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