Browse Definitions:
Definition

human attack surface

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Human attack surface is the totality of all exploitable security holes within an organization that are created through the activities and vulnerabilities of personnel. Elements of an organization's human attack surface include negligence, errors, illness, death, insider threat and susceptibility to social engineering.

Social engineering is such a pervasive and serious threat to enterprise security that it is often considered as an attack surface on its own. The social engineering attack surface includes a wide variety of techniques including phishing, baiting with malware-infested media and simple actions like following an authorized individual through a door into a secure area. To protect an organization from social engineering, employees should be trained to recognize the common tactics used and urged to be suspicious of any activities that could be attempted exploits. Penetration testing should be conducted regularly to simulate social engineering attacks and detect any areas in which employees remain vulnterable.

Employee negligence and error require similar vigilance. Efforts to prevent errors include ensuring that employees are adequately trained for their tasks and that they have the resources available to perform at an acceptable level. Overwork and occupational stress can lead to burnout and increases in both errors and negligence. To guard against them, excessive work hours should be avoided whenever possible and work-life balance should be promoted and fostered through workplace initiatives.

Illness and deaths of employees can leave an organization vulnerable if those individuals possess unique skills and knowledge. To mitigate the impact, an organization should have programs in place for such individuals to mentor other employees.

Although insider threats are decidedly less common than other elements of the human attack surface, any incidents can cause significant damage. Protection against insider threats includes familiar security measures: multiple spyware scanning programs, anti-virus programs, firewalls, and a rigorous data backup and archiving routine. In addition, it’s important to ensure proper oversight of employees and stringent controls on privileges.

This was last updated in April 2017

Continue Reading About human attack surface

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication ...

  • vulnerability disclosure

    Vulnerability disclosure is the practice of publishing information about a computer security problem, and a type of policy that ...

  • incident response

    Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, also ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • flash memory

    Flash memory, also known as flash storage, is a type of nonvolatile memory that erases data in units called blocks.

  • NAND flash memory

    NAND flash memory is a type of nonvolatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data.

  • NOR flash memory

    NOR flash memory is one of two types of nonvolatile storage technologies.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close