Why Defending the External Attack Surface is More Challenging: Unraveling the Complexities of Cybersecurity

Ah, the world of cybersecurity, where the battle between defenders and attackers wages on. Within this digital battlefield, every company faces the challenge of protecting two distinct attack surfaces: the internal and the external. While both are important, the external attack surface (EAS) poses a greater challenge when it comes to safeguarding. But why is this the case? Let’s dive into the reasons behind the elevated difficulty of defending the external attack surface.

1. Vastness and Complexity: The external attack surface is vast and intricate, encompassing all the potential entry points and vulnerabilities that exist outside the company’s internal network. It includes the company’s online presence, such as websites, web applications, external software services, cloud infrastructures, and more. The sheer size and complexity make it more challenging to identify and protect every potential weak point.

2. Lack of Control: Unlike the internal attack surface, which can be more tightly controlled and monitored within a company’s network, the external attack surface extends beyond the organization’s direct control. It includes assets and infrastructure that may be managed by third-party providers, rely on shared services, or reside in the cloud. This lack of direct control introduces additional complexities when it comes to securing these external elements.

3. Exposure to the Public Internet: The external attack surface faces a constant barrage of potential threats from the vast and sometimes uncharted territory of the public internet. With billions of connected devices and networks, cybercriminals have a wide range of entry points to exploit. This exposure makes it harder to defend against attacks conducted by external actors who may be operating from any corner of the globe.

4. Constantly Changing Landscape: The external attack surface is dynamic, continually evolving as a company’s digital footprint expands, new technologies are adopted, and online interactions increase. This ever-changing landscape introduces greater challenges in staying abreast of emerging threats, vulnerabilities, and attack techniques that target these external assets.

5. Human Factors and Social Engineering: The external attack surface is often more vulnerable to social engineering and manipulation techniques employed by attackers. Through techniques such as phishing, spear-phishing, or pretexting, cybercriminals aim to exploit human weaknesses and trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or granting unauthorized access. This human element introduces an additional layer of complexity and difficulty in defending the external attack surface.

While the external attack surface may be more challenging to safeguard, it is by no means insurmountable. Companies can enhance their defenses by adopting a comprehensive security strategy that includes measures such as regular vulnerability assessments, robust authentication and access controls, network segmentation, intrusion detection systems, and user awareness training. By combining proactive defense measures with continuous monitoring and timely response capabilities, organizations can strengthen their resilience against external threats and protect their valuable assets.

Original Article https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/99771-vulnerabilities-on-external-attack-surfaces-live-far-too-long