Attack Surface

What Does Attack Surface Mean?

The attack surface of a system is the complete set of vulnerabilities that exist within that system. It is a metaphor used for assessing security in a hardware and software system. The attack surface is not an actual surface, but it helps the individual to visualize where vulnerabilities are in a system.


Techopedia Explains Attack Surface

IT professionals often talk about “wide” or “thin” attack surfaces, or “large” or “small” attack surfaces. For instance, one of the selling points of container virtualization has been the idea of positioning data in containers to present a thinner attack surface. The general idea is that as the number of unique vulnerabilities decreases, the attack surface becomes smaller. This is a handy idea in cybersecurity, but has some amount of subjectivity attached. Professionals might talk about the attack surface in terms of operating systems, storage media, identifying physical and digital assets or analyzing networks.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…