Tag Archive for: attack surface

The Hidden Attack Surface: What’s Missing in Your Cloud Security Strategy?

It happens all the time. A company has the right security policies in place but misconfigures the environment. They think they are protected. Everything looks fine. They locked the doors and boarded up the windows to the room where the crown jewels are kept, but nobody noticed that the safe that holds the jewels is no longer in that room. Accidentally, it was moved to another location, which is left wide open.

Here’s another common scenario. When working in the cloud, someone in your company can easily turn on a policy that allows anyone to gain access to your critical resources. Or, maybe you grant temporary access to a vendor for maintenance or troubleshooting but then forget to revoke the access. There may be legitimate reasons to grant access, but if that resource is compromised, your cloud can be infected.

Cloud Environments Are Constantly Evolving and Easy to Misconfigure

The challenge in today’s cloud environment is that things are never static. Things are spinning up constantly, new endpoints are being added, and new connections are being made. Cloud users can easily misconfigure or forget to revoke access to critical resources. So you lock the front door and think you’re safe when the back door might be open or someone is opening and closing new windows all the time.

Nearly seven in 10 organizations report dealing with cyberattacks from the exploitation of an unknown or unmanaged asset connected to the internet. With today’s complex cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud environments, uncovering the hidden attack surface is crucial to uncover every potential resource that could be compromised.

What is the Hidden Attack Surface?

Uncovering the hidden attack surface involves knowing all unknown resources in your cloud and finding all attack paths to the resources – not just the most likely paths like most CNAPP/CSPM vendors. Finding all attack paths requires deep intelligence to map the full cloud network and determine every potential exposure point.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for pathways, or hidden attack paths, to get to your crown jewels. With today’s emphasis on cybersecurity, companies rarely leave the front door open to let hackers walk right in. But there may be vulnerabilities that do allow access and then a pathway to reach the jewels. It may be a twisted and convoluted path, but it gets hackers where they want to go.

An attack path analysis details every endpoint and connection to show how threat actors could enter your house and travel the path to find what they’re looking for. By highlighting every possible path and policy detail associated with these pathways, you gain comprehensive visibility into your network.

This information details the traffic that can enter or exit a hop on the attack path and what controls are enabling them to uncover areas of unintended access to critical cloud resources.

Mapping the Entire Infrastructure

Some other solutions are also inadequate to map the entire infrastructure.

Let’s say you have someone conducting penetration testing. Pen testing focuses on the major attack points but doesn’t identify every single way, inside out, to connect to those resources. Think of it this way: You want to drive from San Jose to San Francisco. Nearly everyone making that drive will use the 101 or 280. But 880 can also connect, and there are thousands of side routes that you could use to make the ride. It may take a long time, but you’ll ultimately get to your destination.

Pen tests focus on the most typical routes. Plus, routes are constantly changing. They don’t take into account that new subdivision that didn’t exist last week that allows through traffic. You may segment your data, but new pathways evolve that suddenly allow lateral movement. Without real-time attack path analysis, you may be secure one moment and insecure the next.

Not All Attack Path Analysis Vendors Work the Same Way

When looking to analyze attack paths, it’s crucial to choose the right vendor. Not everyone approaches attack path analysis the same way, and the wrong solution may give you a false sense of security.

Just like penetration testing, most CNAPP/CSPM companies focus on the same major pathways. For example, if you’re using AWS and want to know which resources may be exposed, most vendors will check AWS security groups, AWS network access control lists (NACL), and AWS gateways. But are they also checking gateways such as AWS Transit Gateways, Third Party Firewalls, Load Balancers and all other cloud networking resources.

Effective security demands that you view everything end-to-end including every endpoint, pathway, and policy. While you may start with the obvious paths, it’s not enough. Attackers know that the most obvious spots are usually protected, so they’re constantly probing for the path that’s not so obvious and less likely to be guarded. This is uncovering the hidden attack surface that results in most cloud security breaches.

Comprehensive Attack Path Analysis with RedSeal

RedSeal uncovers the hidden attack surface by providing a comprehensive attack path analysis of every possible entry point and pathway within your infrastructure to determine what resources may be exposed. Besides end-to-end mapping, RedSeal also shows you how the exposure occurred and provides remediation guidance.

You get:

  • A list of all resources, subnets, and instances that are deemed critical, grouped by AWS accounts, Azure subscriptions, AWS VPCs, Azure VNETs, tags, and subnets
  • Specific ports, protocols, and services that are open and exposed — e.g., HTTPS (443), SSH/TCP (22), SMTP/TCP (25), RDP with exposure details
  • Full attack path analysis to critical resources,  highlighting all possible paths and the security policy details associated with each path
  • Details about what and where traffic can enter, what controls are enabling entry, and the paths attackers can take once they gain entrance

You can complement your cloud service provider’s operational tools by getting a real-time evaluation of all affected resources across multiple cloud environments. Using an agent-less, API-based approach, RedSeal Stratus uncovers all resources deployed within your environment and lets you view them in a single pane of glass.

Not only do you get a comprehensive view of your cloud infrastructure and insight into potential exposure points, but you also get a roadmap for remediation. Stratus identifies and calculates every possible path, port, and protocol — not just active traffic — to help you prioritize your remediation efforts. Security teams can then perform root cause analysis and raise a remediation ticket for resource groups that may be impacted by security policies.

This ticket would include information about the affected resources, verification, remediation steps, and the potential risk if they are not mitigated.

RedSeal mitigates exposure with:

  • Out-of-the-box (OOTB) reporting
  • Simple, agent-less deployment
  • Continuous risk assessment
  • Drill-down capabilities with remediation guidance
  • Seamless integration with ticketing and remediation systems like Jira

RedSeal’s cloud security solutions can bring all multi-cloud environments into one comprehensive, dynamic visualization and know the unknowns. This allows you to protect your cloud, conform to best practices and gain continuous monitoring for compliance.

Learn more by downloading our Solution Brief: Stop Unintended Exposure.

Why Visualizing the Entire Healthcare Attack Surface Is Critical

In recent years, the healthcare sector has been steadily adopting web and cloud-based technologies and shifting towards an internet-enabled system to improve quality of care.

However, along with the limitless benefits that the internet offers — like sharing information, simplifying operational processes, tracking workflows, enhancing connectivity, and storing and organizing data — is an increased risk of cyberattacks, data breaches, and other types of fraud. This makes hospitals and healthcare organizations increasingly vulnerable to advanced threats and targeted attacks.

According to recent reports, data breaches in the healthcare sector have been rising at an alarming rate for the last five years. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, email-based attacks increased by 42%, so it’s no wonder that more and more healthcare organizations are adopting a robust, multi-faceted strategy to improve their security posture. Hospitals’ expanding digital footprint also complicates their network infrastructures, making complete visibility into the entire attack surface extremely essential to managing cyber risks effectively.

Expanding Healthcare Attack Surface Risks

The widespread use of wireless technology is undoubtedly beneficial to the healthcare system. Wireless technology enables healthcare IT infrastructures to run data center servers, medical equipment, tools and applications, and other devices like smartphones, tablets, and USB drives. Organizations stay connected to deliver effective operations and consistently informed care.

These connected devices help in patient monitoring, medication management, workflow administration, and other healthcare needs. However, the increased number of devices connecting to the network also broadens the attack surface — meaning more entry points for unauthorized access and therefore the need for enhanced infrastructure visibility to mitigate risks.

Why Complete Visualization Is Essential

From booking an appointment to setting foot in the doctor’s clinic or hospital, patients go through several processes and interact with different interconnected devices and software systems. While a connected environment ensures a seamless patient experience, the different touch points provide more opportunities for attackers to gain access to sensitive data.

Currently, there are 430 million linked medical devices deployed globally, connected through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and radio transmission. The sheer amount of sensitive and personal information healthcare systems capture and process is why their systems are desirable targets. Therefore, it is critical to safeguard the data stored in these systems.

Protected health information (PHI), such as credit card and bank account numbers, and personal identification information (PII), such as social security numbers, are data cybercriminals find particularly alluring. Selling this sensitive information on the dark web is a very profitable business.

Even just a small part of the healthcare technology spectrum may lead to the greatest cybersecurity gaps, allowing criminals to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive data. The resulting cyber crimes directly impact organizational productivity and brand reputation.

Here are a few risks that are most detrimental to healthcare businesses’ bottom lines and reputations.

  • Ransomware: Healthcare services are notably vulnerable to ransomware attacks because they depend on technology to a significant extent, considering the nature of their day-to-day operations. Health records are highly rewarding for criminals because each patient, hospital, or confidential record can command a hefty price in the underground market.
  • Phishing: Phishing attacks are quite common in healthcare. Attackers target the most vulnerable link in the security chain, i.e., people, to make their jobs easier. Through social engineering, users click on malicious attachments or links, thereby infecting their systems and losing access. The repercussions can be disastrous and the losses unimaginable. For instance, a Georgia diagnostics laboratory recently discovered that an employee’s compromised email account led to a phishing attack, impacting 244,850 individuals. The attackers were able to acquire patient information and then attempted to divert invoice payments.
  • Cloud Storage Threats: Many healthcare providers are now switching to cloud-based storage solutions for better connectivity and convenience. Unfortunately, not every cloud-based solution is HIPAA-compliant, making them clear targets for intruders. Healthcare companies must implement access restrictions more carefully and encrypt data properly before transmitting. Additionally, complete visualization of the attack surface is necessary to prevent data breaches, data leaks, improper access management, and cloud storage misconfiguration.

How to Protect Expanding Healthcare Attack Surfaces

Attack surface analysis can help identify high-risk areas, offering an in-depth view of the entire system. This way, you can better recognize the parts that are more vulnerable to cyber threats and then review, test, and modify the security strategies in place as necessary.

Healthcare IT administrators must secure the network infrastructure using stringent policies and procedures like enforcing strong passwords, properly configuring firewalls, setting up user access permissions, and ensuring authorized access to assets and resources. They must also monitor and properly configure all the devices connected to the network — be it standard healthcare devices or personal devices of patients and workers. In addition, a strong encryption policy can help increase data security, making it difficult for cyber attackers to penetrate the system.

Conducting regular attack surface scans can also mitigate cyberattack risks. This helps ensure security control measures are adequate and that decision-makers have the data they need to make informed decisions regarding the organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Also, all types of software and related updates for medical devices must be tested prior to installation.

Secure Your Entire Healthcare Network with RedSeal

Healthcare organizations often hesitate to invest in cloud security solutions. But the average cost of a healthcare breach is $9.23 million, which is far more than the cost of professional cloud security solutions. Additionally, healthcare institutions deal with extremely sensitive information, and fines for data security noncompliance can be extremely costly. Healthcare security leaders must be able to effectively visualize their entire attack surface to bolster their cybersecurity defenses.

RedSeal offers award-winning cloud security solutions that provide comprehensive, dynamic visualization of all connected devices. We partner with leading network infrastructure suppliers to provide comprehensive network solutions and professional services. This way, you can see and secure your entire network environment.

Contact us to learn how we can help strengthen your network security.

Understanding and Managing Your Attack Surface

By Kes Jecius, RedSeal Senior Consulting Engineer

The Center for Internet Security’s (CIS) ninth control for implementing a cybersecurity program is for your organization to manage the ports, protocols, and services on a networked device that are exposed and vulnerable to exploitation. The intent of the control is for your organization to understand, reduce and manage the “attack surface” of its computing assets.

Attack surface can be defined in two dimensions, the network dimension and the server configuration. The network dimension is about attack vectors, or how an attacker can gain access to a device. We assume that attackers come from an untrusted part of the network, such as the Internet. You reduce attack vectors by limiting which devices/servers are accessible from these untrusted network spaces. This is typically done by implementing firewalls within the network infrastructure.

The next attack surface dimension is the ports/protocols/services that are enabled and accessible on the server itself. To reduce your attack surface, start by understanding what ports/protocols/services are required for an application to run on the network. Any that aren’t required should be disabled on the server. For instance, on a public-facing web server only ports 80 (http) and 443 (https) need to be enabled to view web content. Next, pair this basic understanding with an active vulnerability management program. Attackers continue to develop exploits for these commonly used ports. You’ll want to remediate these potential vulnerabilities in a timely fashion to reduce the risk of compromise.

Beyond your external attack surface, however, there is an additional dimension. Many current system exploits come from within your own internal network. Hackers regularly use phishing emails and false web links to entice people to click on something that will install some type of malware. This creates a new attack vector to critical assets as an attacker gains a toehold within your trusted internal network.

To manage and reduce both your external and internal attack surfaces, you need to use tools and platforms to understand both attack vectors and the ports/protocols/services needed on critical systems. CIS recommends:

  • Using your asset inventories generated from implementing CIS Control #1 (Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets) and Control #2 (Inventory and Control of Software Assets) to map active ports/protocols/services to critical systems.
  • Ensure that only required ports/protocols/services are enabled on these critical systems.
  • Implement mitigating controls in the network, such as application firewalls, host-based firewalls, and/or port filtering tools.
  • Perform regular automated port scans of critical systems to ensure that implemented controls are being effective.
    NOTE: Many servers are not tolerant of port scanning tools due to load on the server. Other solutions exist that allow organizations to validate that only required ports/protocols/services are enabled on critical servers.

Although no single product can be the solution for implementing and managing all CIS controls, look for products that provide value in more than one area and integrate with your other security solutions. RedSeal, for example, is a foundational solution that provides significant value for understanding and managing your external and internal attack surfaces. Additionally, RedSeal provides pre-built integrations with many security products and easy integration with others via its REST API interface.

Download the RedSeal CIS Controls Solution Brief to find out more about how RedSeal can help you implement your cybersecurity program using the CIS Controls.