SecurityBrief Australia - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Tenable research calculates external attack surface
Fri, 14th Jul 2023

New research conducted by Tenable, the Exposure Management company, has unveiled several cyber hygiene issues, such as outdated software, weak encryption and misconfigurations within Australia's largest organisations. 

On June 28, 2023, the external attack surface of 25 of Australia's organisations with the most significant market capital was examined. 

The findings revealed that the average organisation possesses nearly 12,000 internet-facing assets, susceptible to potential exploitation, resulting in more than 290,000 assets across the study group. 

Tenable says these findings illustrate the immense scale of the cybersecurity architecture organisations must secure to protect sensitive data and critical systems. 

Scott McKinnel, Country Manager ANZ for Tenable, says: "Australia reported 76,000 cyber attacks last year, equivalent to one every 7 minutes."

"These recent high-profile cyberattacks serve as a stark reminder that bad actors only need to succeed once, while defenders must ensure cybersecurity is effective every single time." 

"Australia's digital security is paramount and it all begins with a comprehensive understanding of the attack surface and every potential entry point," says McKinnel.

One observation is that out of the total number of assets for all companies tracked, organisations had over 9,500 web-based assets that still support TLS 1.0. This example demonstrates how challenging it's become for organisations with large internet footprints to identify and update outdated technology. 

The examination revealed that out of the total assets for all companies tracked, more than 8,000 assets are susceptible to the Log4J vulnerability. Tenable says this finding highlights a significant concern, as known vulnerabilities like Log4J are the primary cause of most cyberattacks. 

By relying on outdated versions of Log4J, organisations are leaving themselves exposed to potential cybersecurity breaches.  

Furthermore, over 12,000 assets, initially intended for internal use, have been inadvertently exposed and are now accessible externally. Tenable warns that not hardening these internal assets presents a substantial risk to organisations, as it effectively opens the door for malicious actors to target sensitive information and critical systems.

Lastly, identifying over 4,000 APIs from the total assets among organisations' digital infrastructure poses a substantial risk to their security and operational integrity. 

APIs serve as crucial connectors between software applications, facilitating seamless data exchange. However, Tenable states that inadequate authentication, insufficient input validation, weak access controls, and vulnerabilities in dependencies within API implementations create a vulnerable attack surface.

Malicious actors can exploit such weaknesses to gain unauthorised access, compromise data integrity, and launch devastating cyberattacks.

Nathan Wenzler, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist at Tenable, says: "An alarming reality is that only a handful of organisations possess a comprehensive understanding of their complete digital footprint." 

"One of the most prevalent and perilous security oversights is the inadvertent misconfiguration of cloud resources, making them vulnerable to the internet."

"It is crucial for every business or government entity to possess advanced capabilities that can identify previously invisible points of vulnerability." 

"By proactively preventing attacks rather than merely managing them, organisations can effectively safeguard their digital infrastructure," says Wenzler.