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Nov 16, 2023

A Growing Attack Surface Requires More Capable Security Solutions


Attack surface is a common topic of internal discussion among the Hillstone Networks team. Day in and day out, the attack surface our clients present to threat actors has to be managed. It needs to be controlled. And as attack surfaces grow, they require more capable security solutions. Here is the reality: attack surfaces are not going to get any smaller. Therefore, security solutions must continually get better.

A Basic Definition

The attack surface in cybersecurity is not difficult to understand. An attack surface is all the potential entry points hackers and criminals could take advantage of to gain entry to a network, cloud environment, or local computer system. Theoretically, the larger the system being attacked, the larger the attack surface.

We typically think of hardware when the attack surface is mentioned. We think of things like servers, routers, desktop computers, and the like. But the attack surface isn’t limited to hardware alone.

Software also offers multiple points of entry. From operating systems to databases and applications hosted in the cloud, all need to utilize network traffic coming and going. That means all of them offer entry points ready to be exploited by threat actors.

Logical networks increase the attack surface. Finally, actual users represent entry points as well. Anyone who has access to a network or system can be exploited. From administrators to entry level users, all need to be managed to keep a network or cloud environment safe.

Attack Surfaces Are Growing

Hillstone Networks views attack surfaces as manageable when the right solutions are utilized. It provides comprehensive and multi-dimensional security protection products and capabilities to minimize the attack surface and potential damage. But in order to keep up, it is critical to understand why attack surfaces are growing and how threat actors attempt to exploit that growth.

As we see it, attack surface growth is rooted in three fundamental things:

1. Technological Advancement

It has been said that more complex systems are more prone to failure. That is certainly true in the cybersecurity realm. As technologies become more advanced, they also become more complex. With added complexity comes greater challenges in terms of identifying risks and mitigating them.

Technological advancement has been achieved at a stunning rate over the last twenty years. Not only that, but advancements also seem to be coming more quickly all the time. This only leads to attack surface growth with each new layer of complexity added to the environment.

2. More Sophisticated Attacks

Technology isn’t the only thing that has advanced considerably in the last twenty years. Attack techniques and strategies have also advanced – often faster than technology itself. The reality is that cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated all the time. And the more sophisticated attackers become, the more adept they are at finding vulnerable entry points and exploiting them.

3. The Internet of Things (IoT)

Finally, the IoT cannot help but increase attack surfaces by adding more and more physical devices to networks. The IoT has grown exponentially over the last two decades. It shows no signs of slowing down, either. Therefore, security experts need to do a better job of controlling the attack surface by better managing IoT devices.

Hillstone Networks is committed to working with clients to minimize and control their attack surfaces. We offer cutting edge security solutions along with industry expertise, knowledge, and assistance. We encourage you to not take the attack surface concept lightly. As your organization’s attack surface grows, so do the opportunities for threat actors to get into your systems and cause great harm.