What Is a Reduced Attack Surface?

A reduced attack surface refers to an organization that has minimized the number of ways a malicious actor can gain access to it. An attack surface comprises all potential entry points hackers can exploit to infiltrate a network or access sensitive data. 

Monitoring and shrinking the attack surface makes identifying and blocking threats easier.

Benefits of Reduced Attack Surface

Here are the benefits of the reduced attack surface:

Increased Security Posture and Protection Against Cyber Threats

A reduced attack surface and zero trust security model strengthen an enterprise’s cybersecurity readiness. Minimizing potential entry points safeguards sensitive data and digital assets from unauthorized access, theft, or manipulation. 

This approach enhances the overall security posture, making it harder for cybercriminals to penetrate networks and cause damage.

Mitigation of Potential Attack Vectors

A reduced attack surface mitigates potential attack vectors by minimizing security vulnerabilities. Identifying and eliminating unnecessary access points, closing unused ports, and preventing unpatched software minimize the risk of successful cyber attacks. 

Continuously monitoring and managing the attack surface allow organizations to identify and address new vulnerabilities, ensuring robust defenses over time.

Enhanced Detection and Response Capabilities

A streamlined attack surface bolsters an organization’s defense against cyber attacks and enhances its ability to swiftly detect and respond to threats. Security teams can more easily identify suspicious activity and anomalies, enabling faster detection of possible breaches and swift action to contain and mitigate the danger. 

A reduced attack surface simplifies incident response efforts, allowing security teams to focus on critical assets for more efficient and effective remediation.

Minimized Business Impact in the Event of a Cyber Attack

Reduced attack surfaces help organizations minimize the impact of successful cyber attacks by limiting potential damage and reducing risks like prolonged downtime, data loss, and reputational harm. 

A smaller attack surface contains the breach scope, isolates affected systems, and prevents malware spread, significantly reducing financial and operational consequences for quicker recovery and maintaining business continuity.

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Identifying and Analyzing Attack Surfaces

Here’s how to identify and analyze the attack surface.

Conducting an Attack Surface Analysis

Conduct a comprehensive attack surface analysis to view IT infrastructure from a potential attacker’s perspective, identifying blindspots and possible attack vectors.

  1. Conduct a comprehensive attack surface analysis to identify vulnerabilities across digital, physical, IoT, and AI surfaces.
  2. Understand user types and permissions, determine access to entry points, and measure risk associated with each vector.
  3. Back up sensitive data and PII
  4. View IT infrastructure from an attacker’s perspective to create an action plan for responding to breaches and security threats.

Mapping Out Digital and Physical Attack Surfaces

Conducting a thorough attack surface analysis requires mapping digital and physical attack surfaces. 

The digital attack surface includes software, applications, and network components, while the physical attack surface encompasses physical access points like buildings, data centers, and employee devices. 

Identifying Potential Vulnerabilities and Weak Points

After mapping out the attack surfaces, the next step is identifying potential vulnerabilities and weak points that attackers could exploit by assessing the risk associated with each vector, considering factors such as data sensitivity and user access. 

Organizations should focus on remote entry points and vectors exposed to many users or use cases, often the most vulnerable, and leverage monitoring and vulnerability scanning tools to identify potential weaknesses. 

Attack Surface Reduction Strategies

Here are the strategies for reducing the attack surface.

Implementing Strong Access Controls and User Authentication

Robust access controls and user authentication mechanisms are critical for reducing the attack surface. Ensure only authorized individuals can access sensitive data and systems, limit access to necessary resources, and employ robust authentication methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

Regularly review and update user permissions to identify and remove unnecessary or outdated access rights.

Regularly Updating and Patching Software and Systems

Maintain up-to-date software and systems with the latest security patches and updates to reduce the attack surface. Implement an automated patch management system to ensure consistent updates to operating systems and all network devices.

Implementing Network Segmentation

Divide networks into smaller, isolated segments or subnetworks based on their functions or security requirements to limit potential damage from successful attacks.

Network segmentation prevents attackers from moving laterally to other network parts, minimizing breach impact and making it easier for security teams to detect and respond to incidents.

Minimizing the Use of Third-Party Applications and Vendors

Carefully evaluate and monitor third-party applications and vendors’ security practices, as they can introduce vulnerabilities. 

Conduct due diligence, ensure adherence to strict security standards, and limit the number of third-party applications and vendors to reduce the attack surface and minimize supply chain attack risks.

Educating Employees on Security Awareness and Best Practices

Educate employees on security awareness and best practices, which are crucial in maintaining an organization’s security posture. 

Reduce the risk of successful attacks by providing regular training sessions on identifying and reporting suspicious emails, creating strong passwords, and handling sensitive data securely. 

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Best Practices for Attack Surface Management

Here are the best practices for attack surface management.

Continuous Monitoring and Assessment of Attack Surfaces

Constantly monitor attack surfaces for potential vulnerabilities and threats using tools and processes that regularly scan for new assets and identify changes in network infrastructure. 

Maintain a real-time inventory of all assets and associated risks to quickly detect and respond to potential threats before attackers can exploit them.

Establishing Robust Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures

Establish clear cybersecurity policies and procedures that define roles, responsibilities, and security requirements for all stakeholders and systems. Consistently implement and enforce these policies across the organization to minimize the risk of:

  • Unauthorized users with access
  • Data breaches

Implementing a Vulnerability Management Program

Implement a comprehensive vulnerability management program that includes regular scans, penetration testing, and risk assessments to identify potential entry points. 

Prioritize identified vulnerabilities based on severity and potential impact and develop a remediation plan involving:

  • Patching software
  • Updating configurations
  • Implementing additional security controls

Regularly Conducting Risk Assessments

Conduct regular risk assessments that consider business objectives and regulatory requirements to identify and evaluate potential threats. Understand the likelihood and potential impact of different attack types to prioritize security efforts and allocate resources effectively. 

Stay up-to-date with the latest threats and adapt security strategies through regular risk assessments.

Leveraging Cloud Security Solutions for Enhanced Protection

As organizations increasingly move assets and applications to the cloud, leverage cloud security solutions to enhance attack surface protection. Properly configure and manage tools like:

  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems
  • Data encryption

Several emerging trends shape the future of attack surface management, including:

  1. Cloud-Native Environments: Attack surface management evolves to address dynamic, decentralized infrastructures in cloud-native environments, reducing the attack surface
  2. IoT Integration: Specialized IoT asset discovery and vulnerability assessment capabilities incorporated into attack surface management
  3. Automation and Orchestration: Attack surface management’s future embraces automation and orchestration to streamline critical processes

Create a Bulletproof Security Strategy with Perimeter81

Perimeter81 offers advanced security features like robust encryption and secure access controls to help build a bulletproof security framework, reduce attack surfaces, and keep your business VPN secure, compliant, and performant. 

Explore Perimeter81’s solutions today or request a demo to fortify your network security.


What is attack surface reduction?
Attack surface reduction minimizes potential entry points for cyber threats. It involves identifying and eliminating vulnerabilities across an organization’s IT infrastructure, including networks, applications, and endpoints.
What is meant by attack surface?
An attack surface encompasses all possible ways an attacker could compromise an organization’s systems. It includes vulnerabilities in software, misconfigurations, weak authentication mechanisms, and exposed network services.
What will decrease the attack surface of a network?
Network segmentation isolates critical assets and limits lateral movement. Regularly updating software, applying security patches, and implementing strong access controls reduce the attack surface.
What are the most common cybersecurity attacks?
Malicious software (malware) like ransomware and viruses top the charts, capable of stealing information or holding your device hostage. Deception is another major weapon – phishing scams (including social engineering attacks), insider threats, and DDoS attacks all try to trick you or overwhelm systems to steal data or disrupt operations.
Why is attack surface analysis important?
Attack surface analysis identifies potential entry points for attackers. It allows organizations to prioritize security efforts and allocate resources effectively to mitigate the most significant risks.

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