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Understanding The Attack Surface In Cloud Computing Security

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Folks involved in cloud computing security knowledge training are often taught to think about the attack surface. It represents the sum of all the ways a hostile party might try to access or control a system. Anyone trying to secure the cloud needs to understand what the attack surface looks like in a distributed world.

More Attack Surface

Cloud-based solutions tend to have greater attack surfaces. Some of this is inherent to the distributed nature of the cloud. For example, a company might host its office applications using cloud software and hardware. Every application connection expands the attack surface. Similarly, every file that moves in and out of the system does, too.

Many cloud-based systems expand the attack surface because they connect edge devices. A grocery store chain using the cloud to connect IoT sensors for refrigeration units significantly expands the system's attack surface. The connections each represent vectors. However, the sensors can become vectors for creative attackers who sneak payload through smaller devices on trusted networks.

How Hackers Benefit

Foremost, a large attack surface provides a more target-rich environment. With more devices, ports, and applications running, a hacker just has more options for finding weaknesses. People in the hacking world tend to be relentless bulletin readers. If they find a zero-day exploit, they're going to send automated systems to hunt for vulnerable targets.

Secondly, hackers benefit from complacency in organizations with notable attack surfaces. Part of the demand for people with cloud computing security knowledge online training comes from the need for more eyes on these problems. Even if an organization wants to invest in securing the cloud, they have to find the right people and deploy them to watch the right targets.

Controlling the Attack Surface

Ultimately, your goal is to take control of the attack surface. Typically, the first solution is to contain it as much as possible. Closing unneeded ports and applications, for example, is the standard operating procedure in the cloud computing business.

The second solution is monitoring. You need to see the entirety of the attack surface and what's happening there. Monitoring tools frequently allow you to automate much of the process. This will allow you to have a fuller view of the attack surface. Similarly, monitoring tools will help you with identifying threats, logging activity, and mounting a response. You can check monitoring logs to see what an active threat involves so you can research the issue and prepare a response.