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How Can OSINT Tools be Used and What is External Attack Surface Management?

How Can OSINT Tools be Used and What is External Attack Surface Management?

November 8, 2021

SOCRadar defines itself as a platform providing an early warning system with extended threat intelligence. In other words, SOCRadar protects companies and start-ups by providing critical cyber intelligence about their digital assets and vulnerabilities. External attack surface management is the very first step of this process. In this blog post, you will find information about the external attack surface. You will also learn about how OSINT tools can work. 

What is External Attack Surface? 

To start with the definition, it means all possible entry points from which an unauthorized user can access a system and extract data. Of course, we are only concerned with the digital attack surface, which includes all the hardware and software connecting systems and the approach to the world wide web. 

It necessarily includes all applications, code, ports, servers, websites, SaaS, cloud assets, and all the vulnerabilities on these. In addition to those, shadow IT, applications and devices used without IT or cyber security units authorization, leaked professional and personal credentials, social media accounts, and any posts containing bits of information about the company and the network are part of the attack surface.

The external attack surface is all the information in the open web and darknet about your organization, network, and systems. Therefore, external attack surface management (ASM) is the process of discovering, listing, classifying, analyzing, prioritizing, and monitoring all information that can be collected on the Internet and informing your organization about sensitive data by searching external digital assets.

External attachment surface management was also covered in a previous guide by SOCRadar experts. The importance of ASM is obvious: You can not defend a server you do not know existed, or similarly, you cannot patch a service or an application you do not know.

It might not make sense that a company would not know about the servers and services they have. However, this is often the case with big companies. A developer needs to test something quickly.

The developer opens an unauthorized service port or service because of either lack of protocols or because of the many protocols and requirements. Or similarly, it is expected that companies forget about some legacy servers and services, or it happens with mergers. Unfortunately, due to its capacity, IT may not always provide information on all digital assets. In another use case, a database of digital platforms is leaked. 

One of the employees of a company is on the list with his email and password. You may ask what the risk is. After all, nobody recycles their passwords. To learn about any cyber risk, you can go to. 

Most people agree that there is information about the dark web and deep web, and this information is dangerous and could help some attackers to hack into some systems. Still, they do not think anything significant about their company or websites could be out there.

How can OSINT Tools Work? 

Those people, most likely, did not hear about open-source intelligence (OSINT) and its tools. OSINT is any information legitimately collectible by a person or organization from the open Internet without hacking you. It is the information that is free and open to the public.

For example, one of OSINT’s powerful tools, Shodan, allows finding and discovering different types of devices, such as servers, routers, webcams, connected to a network for free. That’s not all; you can also find out which ports of any organization are open, what services are running on it, their versions, etc. 

Many easy-to-use and free tools on the web make it possible to discover information about domains and subdomains. You can access a guide prepared by SOCRadar on this subject by clicking here.

One of the information that can be collected about your company or venture is your websites’ TLS/SSL certificates. This little padlock icon makes the connection between server and client privacy. Having a problem with the SSL certificate can cause severe problems for businesses. 

Finding IP ranges for different companies can also be said as one of the OSINT methods. 

You should know what hackers could easily find about you and your business. These were some of the tools those attackers would use. As SOCRadar, we hope that we have convinced you of the power of OSINT and the importance of the External Attack Surface.

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