The attack surface of most enterprises seems to expand continually with the increase of the number of applications consumed. With every passing second, 75 records go missing worldwide. The commonality of cyber-attacks shows how important it is to prevent them from happening as much as you can. If you aren't taking the right steps, you may be next on a hacker's list.

Read on to learn about how you can reduce the attack surface with these eight approaches.

4 ways to reduce your attack surface
4 ways to reduce your attack surface

1. Keep Software Up to Date

The easiest and most common way to hack is by getting into a software system that has not been updated. This can cause a vulnerability that you don't want to risk. Once you find a vulnerability, it is imperative that you get it taken care of right away.

Some systems can run for years ahead without crashing. Uptime on a server usually means you have a vulnerable system.

You should not update your software only when there is a vulnerability. Keeping your software up to date regularly can save you trouble in the end. A software that isn't updated is at risk.

A lot of software have an auto-update option. Turning on this option will ensure that you always have the newer version of the software. You won't have to worry about forgetting to update.

Compliance software should be mandatory for any authorisation. A device may be authenticated, but not compliant. This means it should not be authorised to access any resources or applications.

2. Look at Your Vulnerabilities

You can easily visualise your vulnerabilities with a scanner. It will give you a severity score that can show you how an attacker can get into the weaker spots.

By visualising your vulnerabilities, you can create a model illustrating what can happen within the network. Four models can help with this:

Model the Attack Surface

This model creates a real-world illustration of the attack surface. It can use network assets and targets for cyber attackers using this model. It can also use network topologies that show vulnerable assets and policies that permit access.

Attack Simulation

Attack simulation is exactly what it sounds like. This will reveal ways that cybercriminals could get into the network and exploit vulnerabilities.

Patch Simulation

This model works with network policy to figure out which areas have the highest impact on security. In other words, it can focus on reducing the most risk in the most efficient way.

Zero Trust Model

A zero trust model can maintain strict access controls by not trusting anyone. This is a default principle the model uses that even distrusts people already inside the perimeter.

3. Control Endpoints

One of the first steps you can take to secure access in a more impactful way is by gaining sight of what is going on in the systems. Endpoints are under surveillance at all times with the use of independent process monitors. You will get an alert when the behaviour of an endpoint is different from usual.

You can monitor the network connections to understand how your endpoints relate to the entire network. By monitoring these connections, you will also be able to see user behaviour that is critical to quickly seeing threats and responding to them.

Next, you need to have endpoints under control. This means controlling what they do, and the most effective way to accomplish this is by looking at network policy.

Endpoint visibility needs access to telemetry from all endpoints to be able to look at the current state of an endpoint. You can also see the behaviour and activities that happen on that endpoint.

Endpoints are critical and should be treated as such. Bring your own device, otherwise known as BYOD, refers to the trend where employees use personal devices to connect to networks within the organisation. When allowing your employees to use BYOD, be sure the endpoints are still secure.

4. Segment Your Network

Commonly, perimeters are places around your network to protect the system. Segmenting is a step further as it can reduce the attack surface by adding more barriers. Attackers will encounter these barriers if they try to get to the network.

Segmenting the network can reduce the number of exploitable enterprise data security assets and lower the dwell time. This term is referred to as the time attackers spend unnoticed on a network. Network segmentation is effective at placing traps in an attacker's path.

3 more ways to reduce your attack surface
3 more ways to reduce your attack surface

5. Prioritise Analytics

An analysis is an important part of reducing the attack surface. The most common methods of analytics are security configuration assessments, quantitative risk scores, and traffic flows. You may already use these methods within your business because they are very effective when it comes to reducing the attack surface.

6. Eliminate Complexity

Your attack surface can be reduced if you eliminate any unnecessary complexity. This can be a very impactful solution to the problem. Complexity usually results from poor policy management that can lead to a lot of other issues including:

  • Technical policy issues
  • Unused rules that don't serve a purpose
  • Overly permissive rule definitions

Having unnecessary complexity can lead to a lot of risk and error. It is important to have simplicity if you want to have maximum security in policy management and other aspects.

7. Use Infrastructure as Code

You should not be manually putting anything in. This could easily cause issues that make it easier for attackers to get inside.

You can compare states when the code is configured. If the deployed state is different from the defined state, you will know that something suspicious is going on. You will also be able to easily rebuild if you come across unforeseen circumstances like a failure.

Anything that has a common standard can be duplicated into a different environment using code. The tool you use to do this doesn't matter, as long as the code version is available.

8. Zero Trust Security

Zero trust security requires strict identity and access management for anyone trying to access a zero-trust network. This could be someone sitting in or outside of the perimeter.

No one is trusted with zero trust network access. This is the default for this security tool that can significantly prevent data breaches from happening because it assumes attackers are inside or outside of the network.

Reducing the Attack Surface

Reducing the attack surface is an important goal for enterprise data management. There are a lot of steps you can take to significantly reduce the attack surface. If you try these eight approaches, you are sure to mitigate cyber-attacks.

For more information on reducing the attack surface, contact us today.