The Growth Of Attack Surfaces In Enterprise Cybersecurity

As the ubiquity of the internet and its associated connected devices continue to proliferate, so does the array of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This, in turn, adds ever-greater complexity to security operations. Moreover, far too many organizations are facing down the growth of attack surfaces in enterprise cybersecurity with legacy tech, giving the bad guys a decided advantage.

What Are Attack Surfaces?

Simply put, computer attack surfaces are potential points of unauthorized entry through which a hacker can access, upload or download data from a given environment. In other words, it includes software, operating systems, network services and protocols, as well as domain names, SSL certificates, authentication and access controls. Any of these aspects of a network can be vulnerable to malevolent activity. Remarkably, software employed to protect enterprises can even be turned against them to become yet another potential point of entry.

Code Replication Is a Key Concern

According to the National Vulnerability Database at, operating systems were either directly or indirectly responsible for 100 percent of the vulnerabilities reported during 2019. This is largely due to the prevalent use of open source components in the development of new applications. Reusing code, while certainly convenient, creates large-scale security issues. After all, one piece of vulnerable code, replicated over and over again, can result in the breach of multiple systems.

This, in turn, has given rise to another issue. Exploit speed has shortened by 93 percent over the past few years. It can now take as few as three days for cybercriminals to discover a flaw, see where else it exists and go on to exploit those instances too.

As a result, zero-day vulnerabilities are now more prevalent than ever.

The Most Significant Vulnerabilities

Security experts have identified the Internet of Things (IoT), supply chain concerns and employee security as the primary issues.

More devices connected means ever-increasing amounts of data need to be managed. Meanwhile, employee lapses in judgment continue to be responsible for nearly half of all attacks and breaches perpetrated.

Cloud based-services and sharing have led to ever expanding amounts of data shuttling back and forth between suppliers and clients, which has created a need for more automation. After all, managing the quantities of data in question manually is both impractical and very nearly (if not completely) impossible.

All of this complexity, particularly when amplified by the ever-advancing number of attack surfaces and the steadily increasing sophistication of those who would exploit them, has lead to a burgeoning number of incidents.

Cybersecurity Facing Intense Challenges

As a result, cyber risk management is more challenging than ever before. A report from Cyber Security Ventures projects a 12.6 percent compound annual growth rate surge by 2027. Further, zero-day cyber attacks are expected to occur at the rate of one every 24 hours by 2021.

Leading experts like Ray Kurzweil warn computer viruses and software vulnerabilities will continue to propagate well into the foreseeable future. Further, as we move closer and closer to everything being connected to everything else, the potential for disaster grows ever more likely. After all, spending by cybercriminals was observed to be on an order of 10 times more than enterprises were spending to defend against them as far back as 2018.

The Best Strategy Is a Comprehensive One

The growth of attack surfaces in enterprise cybersecurity has pointed up a fundamental flaw in the traditional approach. For far too long CISOs have looked at defense as a series of separate and discrete concerns — when really it calls for a comprehensive strategy embracing integrated controls, along with end-to-end security data collection, processing, and analytics.

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