What is attack surface analysis?

Attack surface analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating all potential entry points or vulnerabilities an attacker could use to compromise a system or network. The term "attack surface" refers to the sum of all possible ways an attacker could gain unauthorized access to an organization's cyber assets.

Attack surface analysis involves comprehensively reviewing the organization's technology infrastructure, including the following but not limited to:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Network, and 
  • Users 
  • Policies
  • Procedures 

Attack surface analysis is often performed as part of a security assessment or penetration test. The results are used to develop a security strategy to minimize the organization's attack surface.

Why is attack surface analysis important?

By identifying potential vulnerabilities within the organization before an attacker does, the organization can implement appropriate fixes, countermeasures, and defenses to mitigate those vulnerabilities. This process can help organizations reduce the likelihood of successful attacks and minimize the impact of any successful attacks that do occur.