5 Tips to Secure Your External Attack Surface
You know that cybersecurity is of the utmost importance for modern businesses, and as CISO, you do everything you can to keep things secure. From security controls and attack surface management tools, to vulnerability management and network security measures – you do a lot to ensure your security operations are running smoothly.
Security is a constant battle of risk management. You have lots of tools, alerts, and people to help you keep your internal systems safe, but what about your external attack surface? Just as it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, it’s hard to see how an attacker with an adversarial mindset is looking at your business, from the outside looking in.
Here are 5 tips to help secure your external attack surface and protect your enterprise business:
1. Educate yourself on the different types of external attacks that are possible
When it comes to protecting your external attack surface, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Being prepared starts with education – not just for you but for your team, as well as your users.
The most common external attack vectors include: denial of service, man-in-the-middle, and phishing.
Denial of Service Attacks:
- Denial of service attacks attempt to make a computer or network unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic or requests for data.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but the most common method is to use a botnet, which is a network of infected computers that can be controlled by the attacker. Once the botnet is in place, the attacker can send out large amounts of traffic to the target site, causing it to crash or become unavailable. (Check out the Nisos blog on Russia’s Fronton Botnet for more on this topic)
Denial-of-service attacks are often used as a tool for political or ideological purposes, as they can effectively shut down a site or service for extended periods of time. However, they can also be motivated by simple mischief or financial gain. In some cases, attackers will demand a ransom from the target in exchange for stopping the attack.
Man in the Middle Attacks:
- Man-in-the-middle attacks take place when an attacker intercepts communication between two parties and impersonates each party to the other.
In these attacks, the attacker wants to gain access to sensitive information, extracting data like passwords or financial information. They can be difficult to detect, as the attacker often uses legitimate credentials to access the victim’s data.
In order to prevent these attacks, it is important to use secure methods of communication, such as SSL/TLS encryption. Additionally, it is important to verify the identity of the person you are communicating with before sharing any sensitive information.
SQL Injection Attacks:
- SQL injection inserts malicious code into a database in order to steal data.
This attack consists of insertion or “injection” of a SQL query via the input data from the client to the application. A successful SQL injection exploit can read sensitive data from the database, modify database data (insert/update/delete), execute administration operations on the database (such as shutdown the DBMS), recover the content of a given file present on the DBMS file system and in some cases issue commands to the operating system.
In order to perform an SQL injection attack, an attacker must first find an input within the web page that is vulnerable to that SQL injection. Second, he must create a specially-crafted input that will modify the structure of the targeted SQL query in a way that will trick the database into executing unintended actions.
While these are the most common types of attacks, there are many other less common ones as well. By familiarizing yourself with these and other types of attacks, you’ll be better equipped to identify potential threats and take steps to protect your system
2. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security
One of the best ways to secure your external attack surface is to use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This will add an extra layer of security that will make it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to your data.
Of course, no security measure is 100% effective, but by taking these precautions you can significantly reduce your chances of being hacked.
3. Patch your systems regularly to close any security holes
By definition, a patch is a piece of code that is used to fix a security hole or vulnerability in a piece of software.
When new holes are discovered, patches are released by the software vendor in order to close them. However, it’s important to note that patches can’t be applied until they are released, which means that there is always a period of time when systems are vulnerable.
That’s why it’s crucial to install patches as soon as they become available. In addition to patches accepted upstream by the vendor, many organizations maintain their own internal repositories of approved patches.
These can address issues that have yet to be resolved upstream or that introduce new risks that must be balanced against the urgency of the issue being addressed. Applying patches in a timely manner is one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect your systems from attack.
4. Stay vigilant regarding any suspicious activity or attempts to gain access to your systems
There are many ways that hackers can try to gain access to your system, so it’s important to be on the lookout for anything unusual.
One common method is known as “brute force” attacks, where hackers use automated tools to guess passwords or other credentials. This can be prevented by using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
Another tactic is “phishing,” where hackers send emails that appear to be from legitimate persons in an attempt to trick you into giving them sensitive information. Be sure to never click on links in emails from unknown senders, and always verify the URL of any website before entering any login credentials.
5. Harden your systems against external attacks by using proper security measures
If you want to secure your external attack surface, you need to harden your systems against attack by using proper security measures. There are a number of different security practices, tools, and systematic processes you can use, and the best defense is always a multi-layered approach.
Some of the measures you can take include:
- Setting up firewalls
- Using intrusion detection and prevention systems
- Ensuring that all your software is up to date
By following these simple steps, you can help keep your systems safe from external threats.
Bonus Tip: Ongoing monitoring and analysis
One final way to secure your attack surface is to know when a threat is evolving. The analysts at Nisos provide External Attack Surface Monitoring and Analysis that is contextualized to your unique business. Much more than a typical vulnerability scan – Nisos addresses unique attack surface challenges by helping you with a prioritized list of critical alerts.
By cutting out the noise, we monitor for your external-facing security risks – like shadow IT, malicious insider threat traffic, or other exploitable weaknesses found through external threat hunting. You can gain a full picture of your business risks and take action on the threats targeting you.
Nisos is The Managed Intelligence Company™. Our services enable security, intelligence, and trust and safety teams to leverage a world-class intelligence capability tailored to their needs. We fuse robust data collection with a deep understanding of the adversarial mindset delivering smarter defense and more effective response against advanced cyber attacks, disinformation, and abuse of digital platforms.
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