Reduce the Attack Surface

Reducing the attack surface minimizes vulnerabilities, making it harder for attackers to exploit your system.

Advancing cybersecurity and Zero Trust maturity starts by focusing on three core practice areas: reducing the attack surface, detecting and responding to cyber threats and recovering from a cyberattack throughout the infrastructure, including edge, core and cloud. This blog post will focus on the reducing the attack surface—a critical component of cybersecurity, helping strengthen your security posture.

The attack surface refers to all potential areas in an environment that a cyber attacker can target or exploit. These points can include software vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, weak authentication mechanisms, unpatched systems, excessive user privileges, open network ports, poor physical security and more.

Reducing the attack surface is a cybersecurity concept and strategy that focuses on minimizing the potential vulnerabilities and entry points that attackers can exploit to compromise a system, network or organization across various domains including the edge, the core or the cloud. Reducing the attack surface decreases the opportunities for malicious actors to launch successful cyberattacks, while at the same time creating a safe space for organizations to innovate and thrive.

To reduce the attack surface, organizations employ various measures and strategies, including:

    • Apply Zero Trust principles. Zero Trust is a security concept centered on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside their perimeters and instead must verify everything trying to connect to their systems before granting access. Organizations can achieve a Zero Trust model by incorporating solutions like micro-segmentation, identity and access management (IAM), multi-factor authentication (MFA) and security analytics, to name a few.
    • Patch and update regularly. Keeping operating systems, software and applications up to date with the latest security patches helps address known vulnerabilities and minimize the risk of exploitation.
    • Ensure secure configuration. Systems, networks and devices need to be correctly configured with security best practices, such as disabling unnecessary services, using strong passwords and enforcing access controls, to reduce the potential attack surface.
    • Apply the principle of least privilege. Limit user and system accounts to only have the minimum access rights necessary to perform their tasks. This approach restricts the potential impact of an attacker gaining unauthorized access.
    • Use network segmentation. Dividing a network into segments or zones with different security levels helps contain an attack and prevents lateral movement of a cyber threat by isolating critical assets and limiting access between different parts of the network.
    • Ensure application security. Implementing secure coding practices, conducting regular security testing and code reviews and using web application firewalls (WAFs) help protect against common application-level attacks and reduce the attack surface of web applications.
    • Utilize AI/ML. Leverage these capabilities to help proactively identify and patch vulnerabilities, significantly shrinking the attack surface. AI/ML tools can help organizations scale security capabilities.
    • Work with suppliers who maintain a secure supply chain. Ensure a trusted foundation with devices and infrastructure that are designed, manufactured and delivered with security in mind. Suppliers that provide a secure supply chain, secure development lifecycle and rigorous threat modeling keep you a step head of threat actors.
    • Educate users and promote awareness. Training employees and users to recognize and report potential security threats, phishing attempts and social engineering tactics helps minimize the risk of successful attacks that exploit human vulnerabilities.
    • Use experienced professional services and partnerships. Collaborating with knowledgeable and experienced cybersecurity service providers and forming partnerships with business and technology partners can bring in expertise and solutions that might not be available in-house. This can enhance the overall security posture of an organization.

Starting with an assessment and performing regular audits, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments, along with the help of experienced services or partners, can help identify areas for improvement within your attack surface. As cyber threats continue to evolve, it’s important to remember cybersecurity is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. And as organizations look to build a robust, thriving, innovative company, cybersecurity is paramount. By proactively implementing these measures, organizations can effectively reduce the attack surface, helping to mitigate risks and making it more challenging for adversaries to exploit vulnerabilities, enhancing the overall defense posture against new and emerging threats.  Reducing your attack surface helps you to advance your cybersecurity maturity.

Learn how Dell can help organizations effectively reduce the attack surface, helping mitigate risks and enhancing the overall defense posture against new and emerging threats.

Steve Kenniston

About the Author: Steve Kenniston

Steve Kenniston has been in the storage industry for over 25 years. From startup to global 2000 company, Steve has been a part of a number of storage inflection points in his career. He has worked for a number of startup companies including Connected Corp, Avamar, and Storwize all leading to acquisitions. He later worked for Iron Mountain, EMC, IBM and now Dell. Steve is currently the lead for the cybersecurity messaging.