Zscaler, Inc., a San Francisco-based cloud security company, has rolled out a global report on the state of corporate attack surfaces. Based on data sourced between February 2020 and April 2021, the report provides a look at the impact of attack surface exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people moved from the office environment to a home office alternative. Coupled with increased reliance on public cloud services and vulnerable enterprise VPNs, large organizations not using zero trust security became more vulnerable to network intrusion attacks, according to the report, which identifies the most common attack surface trends by geography, vertical, and company size.
“The sheer amount of information that is being shared today is concerning because it is all essentially an attack surface,” said Nathan Howe, Vice President, Emerging Technology at Zscaler. “Anything that can be accessed can be exploited by unauthorized or malicious users, creating new risks for businesses that don’t have complete awareness and control of their network exposure. Our goal with this report is to provide a view of what the internet sees of a company’s information landscape and offer useful tips on how to mitigate risk. By understanding their individual attack surfaces and deploying appropriate security measures, including zero trust architecture, companies can better protect their application infrastructure from recurring vulnerabilities that allow attackers to steal data, sabotage systems, or hold networks hostage for ransom.”
While attack surface vulnerabilities impact organizations of all sizes, major international companies with more than 20,000 employees are more vulnerable due to their distributed workforce, infrastructure, and greater number of applications that need to be managed.
The report found that while 59 percent of surveyed organizations were based in the Americas, the EMEA region led the world in overall exposure and potential risk. EMEA-based businesses had the most exposed servers, with an average of 283 exposed servers and 52 exposed public cloud instances each. They were also more likely to support outdated SSL/TLS protocols. The EMEA region was followed by the Americas, with 132 vulnerabilities, and APAC, with an average of 80 possible vulnerabilities.
The report also analyzed a diverse group of companies, spanning 23 different industries, and found that telecommunications organizations were the most vulnerable and had the highest average number of outdated protocols in their servers. Telecom companies had the third highest average of exposed servers to the internet, increasing the risk of being targeted by cybercriminals for DDoS and double extortion ransomware attacks.
The report also showed that the hospitality industry – including restaurants, bars, and food service vendors – had the highest average of exposed servers and public cloud instances; with AWS instances exposed 2.9 times more often than any other cloud providers. With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing many restaurants to offer online ordering, the rapid adoption of digital payment systems has increased risks for both businesses and customers.
The report underscores the need for channel partners to take a leading role in helping customers to understand and address their technology vulnerabilities.