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What is Attack Surface Management

Last modified on Wednesday, May 8, 2024

3 minute read

Attack Surface Management Definition

What is Attack Surface Management?

Attack Surface Management refers to the process of identifying and securing all potential points where cyber threats can exploit an organization's information systems. These attack vectors, collectively known as the "attack surface," encompass everything from web applications and APIs to cloud services and network devices. By systematically analyzing and reducing this attack surface, businesses can enhance their security posture significantly.

How are Attack Vectors and Attack Surfaces Related, Attack Vector vs Attack Surface

Attack vectors and attack surfaces are closely related concepts in the realm of cybersecurity. Understanding the relationship between them is crucial for identifying and mitigating potential security threats.

Attack Vectors:

Attack vectors are the paths or means by which an attacker gains unauthorized access to a computer system or network to exploit vulnerabilities. These can be broadly categorized into different types, such as phishing attacks, malware, SQL injection, or man-in-the-middle attacks. Each type of attack vector targets specific weaknesses in a system's security defenses.

Attack Surfaces:

Attack surfaces represent all the entry points or interfaces through which an attacker can interact with a system. These can include network interfaces, APIs, user interfaces, and even physical access points. The larger the attack surface, the more opportunities, that is, attack vectors, there are for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and launch attacks.

The Relationship between Attack Vectors and Attack Surfaces:

Attack vectors target specific vulnerabilities within an attack surface. A vulnerability in an application's code, for example, provides an attack vector. The application itself, along with its associated APIs and network interfaces, constitutes the attack surface. By analyzing and understanding the attack surface, security professionals can identify potential attack vectors and take measures to reduce their impact.

Who are the best Attack Surface Management vendors?

You can see the list of Best Attack Surface Management vendors ranked by their Stellastra cyber security risk score here. To adhere our strict vendor neutrality policy, Stellastra does not include itself in these top vendor lists.

Examples of Attack Vectors

The following are some examples of attack vectors:

  • Email Phishing: Deceptive emails impersonate trusted sources, tricking recipients into divulging sensitive information or clicking malicious links, compromising security and privacy.
  • Certificate Authority Misissuance: Unintentional issuance of SSL/TLS certificates to unauthorized entities, enabling man-in-the-middle attacks, data interception, and fraudulent activities, eroding digital trust.
  • Man-in-the-Middle HTTPS: Attacker intercepts HTTPS communications between users and a website, gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data or injecting malicious content, exploiting weak security links.
  • TLS Encryption Downgrade: Attacker manipulates communication protocols to force a downgrade in encryption strength, allowing interception of supposedly secure data, leading to potential privacy breaches and data theft.
  • Clickjacking: Attackers overlay deceptive elements on legitimate websites, tricking users into clicking without their knowledge. Incorrect Content Security Policy (CSP) headers might allow this, leading to unintended actions or disclosure of confidential information.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Malicious scripts are injected into web pages viewed by users, compromising their sessions or stealing sensitive data. If Content Security Policy (CSP) headers are misconfigured, they might fail to block these scripts, exposing users to attacks, identity theft, or financial loss. You can discover your own cyber security risk exposure and that of your partners by using Stellastra's Attack Surface Scanner which allows for free attack surface monitoring of any company.

Attack Surface Scanner

Curious to find your own cyber security risk score and attack surface risk? Check your own organisation with our free cyber security risk score today. Stellastra's attack surface scanner can detect your susceptibility to attack vectors including those mentioned above.


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