The Anatomy of an Attack Surface: Five Ways Hackers are Cashing In


July 12, 2018, Team RiskIQ

Today, hackers capitalize on the weakening of the corporate perimeter caused by customer and partner interactions moving online. With the boundaries between what’s inside the firewall and what’s outside becoming less and less discernible, an organization’s attack surface—everything it needs to worry about defending—begins inside the corporate network and extends all the way to the outer reaches of the internet.

That means security teams are now responsible for defending against digital threats on the open web, where threat actors target their organizations’ brand, employees, and customers with tactics such as phishing, malicious mobile apps, and hacking internet-facing assets like websites and web components. Vulnerable third-party code, which many organizations may not even know they’re running, is particularly notable and a central narrative in recent events, namely the rise in cryptocurrency mining and RiskIQ’s research into Magecart, the threat group responsible for the hack of Ticketmaster.

When brands understand the anatomy of an attack surface—what they look like from the outside-in, they can begin developing a digital threat management strategy that allows them to discover everything associated with their organization on the internet, both legitimate and malicious, and monitor it for potentially devastating cyberattacks. However, bringing the massive scope of an organization’s attack surface into focus is no easy task.

To do this, we deployed our web-crawling infrastructure, which each day executes and analyzes more than two billion HTTP requests, takes in terabytes of passive DNS data, collects millions of SSL Certificates, and monitors millions of mobile apps. When viewed as a whole, this data gives a new perspective of the sheer number of digital assets exposed to the internet, any of which could become a target for hackers. The result is our latest data report, ‘The Anatomy of an Attack Surface: Five Ways Hackers are Cashing In’ which is a data-driven exploration of five different approaches hackers take to target businesses via the internet.

By showing what organizations look like from an attacker’s perspective—a collection of digital assets that are discoverable by hackers—the report illustrates five areas where security teams may lack critical visibility:

1. The Global Attack Surface is much bigger than you think: RiskIQ observed 3,495,267 new domains (249,662 per day) and 77,252,098 new hosts (5,518,007 per day) across the internet over a two week period, each representing a possible target for threat actors.

2. Sometimes hackers know more about your attack surface than you do: Looking at the attack surfaces of FT30 companies, each organization had on average 120 websites with a potential critical Vulnerability or Exposure (CVE) and 228 websites with a potential high CVE.

3. The hidden attack surface: Hackers don’t have to compromise your assets to attack your organization or your customers: In Q1 2018, RiskIQ identified 26,671 phishing domains impersonating 299 unique brands

4. The mobile attack surface: You have much more to worry about than just the Apple and Google Play mobile app stores: RiskIQ discovered 21,948 blacklisted mobile apps across 120 mobile app stores and the open internet.

5. Cryptocurrency Miners are the latest attack surface compromise: RiskIQ found 50,000+ websites have been observed running Coinhive in the past year.

Download the complete report here for comprehensive stats and insights and broaden your awareness of the potential risks involved with the current digital threat landscape and take a more informed approach to cyber defense.

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