Best Attack Surface Monitoring Tools

by John Cirelly - Last Updated: March 27, 2022

Best Attack Surface Monitoring Tools

Our smart devices and the applications installed on them act as an extension of ourselves. However, each of these poses a potential risk when connected to the internet. Each application and device acts as an attack surface that can provide intruders with a doorway into our networks and media. Attack surface monitoring plays a vital role in mitigating such possibilities of exposure and aims to eliminate any opportunities for compromise.

Here is our list of the best attack surface monitoring tools:

  1. Bugcrowd Asset Inventory Offers one of the most advanced attack surface monitoring tools and services available in the market.
  2. Digital Shadows SearchLight A rather different from the average attack monitoring tool that focuses on the system under review and tries to identify places for improvements within the application.
  3. CoalFire Attack Surface Management The security measures of third-party software are always questionable. This calls for a service like CoalFire to identify the scope of the attack surface and then appropriately assess the risks.
  4. Burp Suite Primarily focuses on software development companies that are developing and managing multiple applications and websites.
  5. OWASP Zed Attack Proxy An open-source program frequently used by security experts around the world to identify their system’s vulnerabilities and make necessary improvements accordingly.
  6. ImmuniWeb The most comprehensive attack surface monitoring and vulnerability identification tool on our list.
  7. CyCognito A well-reputed attack surface monitoring tool utilized by brands around the world to help safeguard their systems.

But what is Attack Surface Monitoring?

Every software when developed has certain entry points i.e.: loose ends, placed both advertently and inadvertently, that can be used to gain unauthorized or backdoor access (depending upon your intentions) to the application’s database and manipulate it according to your intentions. These entry points are referred to as ‘attack surface’ and can both be a menace as well as a blessing in disguise to gain access to a system.

Attack surface monitoring involves an active review and analysis of programs to identify such possible points of entry so that they can be appropriately addressed to make the program as secure and air-tight as possible. It can actively reduce the possible risks that an application of the modern-day may face and provides developers with opportunities for optimization with improved code.

What compromises the Attack Surface?

Attack surface might feel like a software-related term that has something to do with the lines of code which comprise the application. Attack surfaces are much broader than what one might generally think.

An attacks surface comprises of the following three components:

  • Physical Attack Surface The physical attack surface includes all potential points of entry that can be physically accessed to enter into a system or a network. These include computers connected with the system, servers, laptops, modems, access points, routers, printers, and even security cameras that can serve as the most convenient physical attack surface. These when coupled with a sold-out employee can make a destructive combo that has the potential for a disaster any time of the day.
  • Social Attack Surface Humans are social beings; they cannot help but interact with hundreds of people daily without even realizing they have done so. In addition to this, the human mind is not programmed like some lines of code that devise a certain line of action in a certain circumstance. The way it functions is a wonder in itself but it can be tricked into performing actions that might not opt had it been more aware of the situation. Employees at organizations can get stalked in public places and may end up casually leaving a loose end for a potential breach e.g.: a person watching over your shoulder can see your password as you type it to log in to your laptop and see an update about an upcoming meeting during your coffee at Starbucks.  It demands vigilance and skepticism to be on your toes at all times so you do not end up letting any make a fool of you.
  • Digital Attack Surface As our original expectation was, the digital attack surface is indeed the opportunity embedded within the software that can be a possible point of intrusion. These include virtual points of intrusion that can be used to break into the system. Digital attack surfaces include servers, websites, databases, applications, cloud networks, and even operating systems.

How To Reduce Your Attack Surface

If you are thinking, ‘all of this is quite messed up, what should I do’, then we share the same thoughts. Here are some tips and tricks that might come in handy and save you from trouble. Of course, the inherent nature of software is such that it is impossible to eliminate all risks, but you can follow a few best practices.

To avoid intrusion from a physical attack surface:

  • Establish access controls over different levels of hardware concerning their vulnerability e.g.: a person from the billings and finance department does not access the server room. Similarly, a newly hired IT assistant should not be allowed unmonitored access right away. This is not to say that people are dishonest.  This is just another ‘better safe than sorry’ measure.
  • Advise employees and users systems to be aware of their surroundings and to opt for practices that are safe and steer them away from trouble e.g.: leaving your passwords on a sticky note at your desk is just carelessness, avoid it at all costs.

The reality that a social attack surface exists means you have to be cautious:

  • It is best if you can avoid using your laptop computers in the public but when you do not have a choice, try to use them in a place with minimum activity. Try to be in a position where no one can look over your shoulder (you ever who is stalking you, when and where) and NEVER leave your device unlocked and unattended.
  • Social interactions are part of what makes us human. Beware that some person you met at the party who seems to be more interested in your job than you, could be a criminal mind who is after your and your company’s money and not a potential candidate for your future friend.

Physical and social attack surfaces are inherently risky but they can seldom result in a big problem without the digital attack surface. In the end, it is the systems and the databases that the devious minds are after. Digital attack surfaces although require greater intricacies for protection, some measures do belong to everyday usage and should at all levels:

  • Do not plug-in unknown devices into your laptop or computer especially if it is a USB stick or a memory card you found by the doormat.
  • Be careful with your online activity, there are phishing links and devious sites scattered all over the internet. No matter how enticing the offer is, if you are not sure about the website’s safety, stay away.
  • VPN services are available for prices as low as $2.49 a month and support even more than 5 devices at a time. Something even this cheap can add layers of protection between you and a potential risk so why not invest in time and save yourself from the hassles.
  • Get your systems reviewed for attack surfaces periodically from ethical hackers and digital security experts. They can then devise security patches for your software and make it safer for usage in the future.

Now all of this might seem intimidating, scary, and try to shatter one’s trust in humanity but it is quite the contrary. Some of these measures might feel too trivial to even care about but it is the collective effort to follow these practices that will guarantee better security for all individuals in the ecosystem and the entire internet at a broader scale.

Advanced Attack Surface Monitoring

The field of cybersecurity is a continuously evolving field of study where things change as quickly as drinking a cup of coffee. It is not just that you need to have all fronts covered and have strategies in place that you have learned from past battlefields but also stay one step ahead of the malicious mind who might try to take advantage of you.

This demands all the help and skill that you can acquire to secure your fort from all fronts. Do not just bar the gates, have soldiers at the windows and another set of soldiers in the hallways to contain the intrusion in case of a misfortune happening.

Attack surface monitoring tools can be a great help in this matter. They are specially developed by individuals who are well-aware of the latest tactics in the market being used by hackers to fulfill their evil desires.

A good attack monitoring tool has the following characteristics:

  1. Maintains a detailed log of the requests made for data access
  2. Track and notify in case of any suspicious activity or unusual volume of requests
  3. Scan the software for vulnerable points for improvements
  4. Identify potential risks for data loss and devise measures to minimize it
  5. Offer a sufficient trial period to test it for a well-informed decision

The Best Attack Surface Monitoring Tools

Here are our shortlisted attack surface monitoring tools that promise to provide the best digital attack surface risk mitigation that exists out there.

1. Bugcrowd Asset Inventory

Bugcrowd Asset Inventory

Bugcrowd Asset Inventory offers one the most advanced attack surface monitoring tools and services available in the market. A very enticing offer from the company includes an automated crawler that integrates itself with the system and crawls through its dimensions in all directions to identify lacunas that can be used by attack vectors to penetrate the system.

Their offerings are not just limited to software-based services. Bugcrowd has a handful of well-trained ethical hackers also referred to as ‘white hat hackers that try to penetrate the application under review via different methods and thus, identify loopholes in this way.

All services are primarily cloud-based and can be utilized remotely so you do not have to compromise on your system’s security just because you can not reach out to these people. The company even offers a trial so you can decide for yourself whether you want to continue with their service or not after you have a taste of their treat.

2. Digital Shadows SearchLight

Digital Shadows SearchLight

Digital Shadows SearchLight is rather different from our average attack monitoring tool. While other attack surface monitoring tools focus on the system under review and try to identify places for improvements within the application, Digital Shadows SearchLight keeps an eye out for you on the dark web for any intel should someone be considering to attack your system.

Think of Digital Shadows as your intelligence service that crawls through the dark web and looks for any information that can result in a security breach to your system. The crawler notifies the system about any circulating information on the dark web as well as strategies that have been used against victim companies in the past. This way you can get yourself geared up well in time to prevent a misfortune incident.

You can get a taste of their work via their free 7-day trial before you make up your mind to sign up for the service.

3. CoalFire Attack Surface Management

CoalFire Attack Surface Management

Multiple pieces of code are working together to execute different activities taking place on a system. While you may have an idea about how your system was developed and all, you might not have a very precise idea about allied software such as APIs and plugins you bought for your website n WordPress. The security measures for such third-party software are always questionable. This calls for a service like CoalFire to identify the scope of the attack surface and then appropriately assess the risks.

Again, CoalFire utilized modern-day algorithms to identify points of vulnerability on the digital attack surface. These findings are then verified by human attack surface analysts who finalize the review and share their recommendations on how to bar the gates even stronger.

4. Burp Suite

Burp Suite

Burp Suite primarily focuses on software development companies that are developing and managing multiple applications and websites. Thus, have their bowl filled up to the brim with the task of making the system work without any major glitches. While all developers try their best to develop applications with a clean code and minimum possible lacunas, you can never be 100% sure.

Burp Suite offers the ‘Enterprise Edition’ for such large-scale users. However, they also showcase a fine collection of ‘Professional’ penetration testing toolkits that your in-house team can benefit from. Or you might choose to work with an external ‘Burp Suite certified Practitioner’ who has a fair experience of working with Burp Suite and can assist in identifying the attack surface in your system. It is entirely your call.

5. OWASP Zed Attack Proxy

OWASP Zed Attack Proxy

OWASP ZAP is an open-source program frequently used by security experts around the world to identify their system’s vulnerabilities and make necessary improvements accordingly. The ZAP project by OWASP despite being open-source has gained immense support from the developer community around the world and is well-maintained to keep up with the ever-changing security requirements.

The Zed Attack Proxy sets up a well-defined parameter around the system and its allied applications and scans it for any soft corners. You can allow ZAP to work around its way through the system to identify any weak areas or you may choose to deploy it yourself and test the system with a human but a keener eye. OWASP ZAP has a unique ability to retain a memory of a previously scanned piece of code so when it scans it again, it can compare for any changes and identify loopholes that have been addressed and what new points of backdoor entry have emerged.

Not to mention, the OWASP ZAP is open-source and is free to integrate with the system. It is entirely up to you to what lengths are you willing to go to perfect your system with the tools.

6. ImmuniWeb

immuiweb discovery threat intelligence

ImmuniWeb is the most comprehensive attack surface monitoring and vulnerability identification tool on our list. ImmuniWeb offers multiple services enveloped inside one comprehensive package. The company offers tools that integrate with your system to identify ‘weak moments’ and advise on how to free the security dam of any leaks.

Not only this, but it also looks out for you and your company for any news on the dark web and warns in case it senses any activity that can lead to a data breach. The combination of the two services is what any company can wish for. Additionally, the optimized communication between the internal and external crawlers enables ImmuniWeb Discovery to analyze the system from both ends and helps tie up loose ends well in time.

The company offers 4 different plans; Express Pro, Corporate, Corporate Pro, and the fully-stacked Ultimate. You may find the prices quite heavy on the pocket but that is the price you must pay if you host a high-risk database and cannot dare to compromise on the system’s security by even the slightest extent. ImmuniWeb will make sure you get your annual targets for data security right.

7. CyCognito

CyCognito

CyCognito is a well-reputed attack surface monitoring tool utilized by brands around the world to help safeguard their systems. CyCognito primarily focuses on publicly exposed assets that serve as your online face to the world, pick out the lice in these assets and help you mitigate the risk by tightening up your security measures.

You can choose to combine attack surface monitoring with CyCognito with other services such as vulnerability management for a more thorough check on your system.

In short

Attack surface monitoring is a crucial part of keeping any website, application, and organization secure and safe from any undesirable consequences. With everything from classrooms to currencies turning digital, we must stay aware and vigilant for any malicious intents and keep our troops ready when someone tries to bring down our fort.