New research examine the impact of the pandemic on attack surface exposure. The report, conducted by cloud-based information security company Zscaler, discovered 392,000 servers and 214,000 ports exposed in its analysis of 1,500 reports between February 2020 through April 2021.
As businesses began to adapt to the pandemic and offer more remote options for employees, these attacks grew and expanded in reach. Many companies relied on public clouds and vulnerable virtual private networks (VPNs) without zero-trust security, leaving them susceptible to intrusion attacks on those networks.
The report identified these corporate attack surface trends by using company size and location to highlight companies vulnerable to ransomware, data breach, and malware. International companies with more than 20,000 employees are more vulnerable to these attacks because of their distributed workforce and infrastructure. The report warned of high server exposure among firms it categorized as “major companies.” On average, companies within this category had 468 servers exposed.
The research revealed 202,000 common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) from 1500 companies, and almost 50% of those vulnerabilities were deemed critical and high security. Nearly 400,000 servers were exposed to these vulnerabilities and accessible over the internet, with almost half their protocol being outdated and weak.
“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,” said Nathan Howe, VP at Zscaler. He said the report aims to provide helpful tips on risk mitigation and help businesses see what the internet sees.
EMEA-based businesses were at higher risk for CVE vulnerabilities because they had the most exposed servers and outdated security programs. The EMEA had 164 CVEs, the Americas had 132 CVEs, and APAC had 80.
The report also warned telecommunications organizations were the most vulnerable due to outdated protocols, which expose them to attacks and distributed denials of service (DDos). The hospitality industry is also at high risk by virtue of the risks inherent in online ordering and digital payment systems. Zscaler recommends businesses recognize outdated VPNs and firewalls and update them to the newest versions for improved risk prevention.