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3 min read

What Is Attack Surface Management and Why Is It Critical to an Organization’s Security Strategy?

In today's digital age every organization, regardless of industry, faces a growing threat from cyber attacks. Fully understanding attack surfaces is critical for any organization to stand against emerging threats. Here we will explore what an attack surface is, the two different types, and how organizations can manage their attack surface to improve their security posture. We'll also discuss what solutions exist to proactively manage your attack surface.


What Is an Attack Surface?

In short, an attack surface refers to the sum total of all the points of entry that an attacker can use to gain unauthorized access to an organization's assets. These entry points can be physical, digital, or both. Examples of attack surfaces include internet-facing servers, wireless access points, mobile devices, and even human factors like social engineering attacks. 

When added together, managing all these elements makes for a massive undertaking and is often sorely underestimated to the detriment of the business.


What Are the Different Types of Attack Surfaces?

There are two main types of attack surfaces: digital and physical.

Digital Attack Surface

The digital attack surface includes all of the digital assets that an organization has that can be targeted by an attacker. This includes servers, websites, applications, and other network-connected devices. The larger an organization's digital attack surface, the more potential entry points an attacker has to exploit.

Physical Attack Surface

The physical attack surface includes all of the physical assets that an organization has that can be targeted by an attacker. An untrained user targeted by an email phishing campaign is one of the best and more recognizable examples of a physical attack surface. Other examples can also include physical building entrances, equipment, and other devices that are not connected to a network. The physical attack surface is often overlooked, but it can be just as important to consider as the digital attack surface.

Attack Surface Management

So now that we know what an attack surface is, how do we develop a plan to manage it? Simply put, we identify, analyze, and mitigate an organization's attack surface to reduce the risk of a successful attack. Effective attack surface management can help organizations to better understand their security posture, identify potential vulnerabilities, and prioritize security resources.

So why is this so important? 

Attack surface management is critical because it helps to identify potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers. By reducing the attack surface, organizations can limit the number of potential entry points an attacker can use to gain unauthorized access. The end goal is improving an organization's overall security posture and reducing the risk of a successful attack.

Benefits of Proactive Attack Surface Control

Proactive attack surface control has several benefits including:

  1. More effective pentests and vulnerability assessments: By reducing the attack surface, organizations can better focus their resources on the most critical areas that require testing.
  2. More effective resource management: By understanding the attack surface, organizations can better allocate their resources to manage their assets.
  3. Higher security posture: By reducing the attack surface, organizations can reduce the number of potential vulnerabilities and improve their overall security posture.

What Are Common Struggles Businesses Face With Managing Attack Surfaces?

Businesses often face several challenges when it comes to managing their attack surface, including:

  1. A lack of time and personnel: Attack surface management is a complex and time-consuming process, requiring specialized skills and knowledge.
  2. Device management: With the proliferation of IoT and other network-connected devices, it can be difficult to keep track of all the assets in an organization's attack surface.
  3. Effective access control: Effective access control is critical to reducing the attack surface, but it can be challenging to implement and enforce.

So, What Is the Best Solution?

So what is the answer to all these issues? The tool we find incredibly useful is SentinelOne Ranger. This is an integration to already existing SentinelOne EDR that allows for proactive surface management functions such as:

  1. Asset Management: Not only will S1 Ranger scan your environment for unprotected devices, it will also deploy endpoint protection to those devices thus saving both time and resources in tracking down and protecting your assets. These are also viewable in your EDR tenant for easy access.
  2. Rogue Discovery: Unmanaged or unknown devices a problem? S1 Ranger also allows you to identify rogue devices in your network. This can help with the problem of BYOD policy breaches and again shrinks your potential attack surface area. Schedule a job to deploy agents or use one-click isolation for suspicious devices.
  3. Easy Integration: Ranger works right alongside the SentinelOne EDR service already in place. It just needs to be turned on! S1 Ranger also doesn’t require additional software installation. Schedule a job to deploy agents or use one-click isolation for suspicious devices. 

By using SentinelOne Ranger to manage your environment, the burden of managing vulnerabilities is reduced while visibility increases. This allows existing personnel to better understand the threats an organization faces while mitigating them more easily. Both the visibility provided and the time saved by Ranger empowers any organization to shrink their attack surface and much better protection against cyber-attacks! All of this serves to better protect your assets and business.

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