How Evolving Attack Surface Vectors are Changing Cybersecurity

Attack Surface Management
5 min read
James Mignacca
November 30, 2022
James Mignacca
November 30, 2022
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Attack Surface Management 101: What is it and How Has it Changed?
This blog explores popular attack surface threat vectors, and the steps businesses can take for attack surface management.

As companies across the US continue to manage more data, as well as implement an increasing number of technologies into their IT infrastructure, their cybersecurity risk grows.

In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures expects global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion USD annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion USD in 2015.

The study said that “cybercrime costs include damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm.”

In addition, cybercrime costs also include the fines and court case expenses associated with failing to comply with data privacy regulations in the regions in which businesses collect, store, use and manage sensitive data.

Bad actors are always looking for opportunities in which they can target your business. To protect your organization’s data against these threats, it’s critical to understand how evolving attack vectors are changing the traditional attack surface.

How Attack Surface Vectors are Changing the Traditional Attack Surface

An attack surface is all possible points where an unauthorized user can gain access to your company’s system and extract or delete sensitive data. This was traditionally made up of a company’s so-called “perimeter”, which included their desktops, printers, routers and other physical walls.

But the attack surface of most organizations has changed dramatically in recent years.

The distributed workforce, increased adoption of cloud technology and a growing reliance on connected systems means this traditional perimeter no longer exists. The typical attack surface is larger than it has ever been before, and cyber risk has increased with it.

Typical access points of an attack surface include:

  • Applications, software and websites
  • Networks
  • APIs
  • Employees
  • Devices

New attack vectors, which are the methods used by cybercriminals to target your business and infiltrate your attack surface, are changing the traditional attack surface and increasing company risk.

These attack vectors take many different forms, including malware, ransomware, phishing and compromised credentials. Yet while these attack vectors have been around for years to target weaknesses in the security of businesses, threat actors are using them in new ways to find new gaps in the modern attack surface.

These evolved threats have come in tandem with the distributed workforce and increased adoption of cloud technology, with threat actors now having more ways to target a company’s network than ever before.

For example, identity-based attacks are more common today, with threat actors increasing their use of attack vectors such credential stuffing to exfiltrate sensitive data from a company’s network. Threat actors are also increasingly using new phishing methods such as SMS messages, social network messages and even voice calls (known as vishing) to target distributed teams.

How to protect your attack surface from threats

To protect sensitive data and comply with data privacy regulations, all businesses must implement and revise cybersecurity strategies to minimize their risk. Here are a few key ways you can improve your security posture:

#1 - Maintain an inventory of your company’s digital assets and the sensitive data they contain with CAASM

Cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) technology aims to solve the challenge of discovering, classifying and tracking all of the digital assets a business uses. Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of these assets helps teams understand what types of sensitive data the business uses, stores and shares, and the level of risk associated with each data type.

CAASM works by auditing and organizing a company’s data and assets through data discovery and data classification, and then establishing risk benchmarks that allow IT teams to focus their cybersecurity and data protection efforts on their most vulnerable and valuable assets.

#2 - Add an extra layer of security with multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to provide proof of their identity in addition to just typing in their password. The use of MFA provides an additional layer of protection that can protect your business in the event of compromised credentials.

#3 - Hide sensitive data from bad actors with encryption

Data breaches are easy when your company’s sensitive data is easily readable by hackers. Encryption can mitigate those risks by making sensitive data impossible for hackers to read, even when they have access to it.

#4 - Implement and maintain endpoint security

Cyber threats will target your company’s attack surface repeatedly until they find a vulnerability that gives them access to your network and sensitive data. Endpoint security technologies will help protect your business against potential breaches.

The most effective endpoint securities include:

  • Antivirus software
  • Firewalls
  • Pop-up blockers
  • Antispyware

Are you interested in learning more about how you can manage your company’s attack surface? Request a demo to learn more about CAASM strategy and whether CAASM technologies are right for your business.

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