(also threat surface, vulnerability surface)
Attack surface definition
Attack surface refers to the cumulative vulnerabilities or points of entry that an attacker can exploit to launch a cyberattack against a system, network, or application. This includes software and hardware components, network interfaces, and services that are accessible to unauthorized users. Reducing the attack surface is a key aspect of improving a system’s security posture, and it involves minimizing unnecessary services. Implementing strong access controls and applying security patches in a timely manner are recommended.
Attack surface examples
- Open ports: Unsecured network ports can give attackers an entry point into a system or network. Closing unnecessary ports helps reduce the attack surface.
- Outdated software: Software that hasn’t been updated or patched may contain security vulnerabilities, making it an attractive target for cybercriminals.
- Weak or default passwords: Weak or default passwords are easy to guess or crack, providing a potential entry point for attackers.
Attack surface reduction tips
- Keep software and systems updated and patched to eliminate known vulnerabilities.
- Enforce strong password policies and use multi-factor authentication.
- Regularly review user access and permissions, granting only the minimum necessary access.
- Implement network segmentation to isolate critical systems and limit lateral movement.
- Use a VPN, like NordVPN, to encrypt your internet connection and protect your online activities.