In today’s rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, organizations must stay ahead of emerging threats and vulnerabilities. Attack surface management is a critical component of a robust cybersecurity strategy.
However, implementing effective attack surface management can be challenging, especially for smaller organizations with limited budgets.
Even for companies that are using paid attack surface management software – like IONIX or other options – open-source tools and free resources can help augment paid tools.
To help, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best free attack surface management tools and resources to help you secure your organization’s digital assets without breaking the bank.
Table of Contents
Understanding Attack Surface Management
A. Definition of attack surface
An organization’s attack surface is the sum of all potential vulnerabilities and entry points that an attacker could exploit to gain unauthorized access to its systems, networks, and applications. It includes all hardware, software, and network devices, as well as human factors such as social engineering and insider threats.
B. Key components of attack surface management
Attack surface management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with an organization’s attack surface. Key components include asset discovery and inventory, vulnerability scanning, patch management, and threat intelligence gathering.
C. The role of attack surface management in cybersecurity
By proactively managing and reducing its attack surface, an organization can minimize the risk of successful cyberattacks, improve its security posture, and enhance its overall cybersecurity resilience.
The Best Free Attack Surface Management Tools
A. OpenVAS (Greenbone)
Overview and features
OpenVAS, now known as Greenbone Vulnerability Management (GVM), is a powerful open-source vulnerability scanner and management tool. It features a comprehensive database of vulnerabilities, automatic updates, and a user-friendly web interface.
OpenVAS is ideal for organizations seeking a free, robust vulnerability scanner to identify and assess potential risks in their network infrastructure, applications, and devices.
Overview and features
Nmap (Network Mapper) is a popular open-source network scanning tool that helps discover hosts and services on a computer network. It supports various scanning techniques, including host discovery, port scanning, version detection, and operating system detection.
Nmap is widely used by network administrators and security professionals for network discovery, inventory, and auditing. It provides valuable insights into an organization’s network infrastructure and can help identify potential vulnerabilities and weak points.
C. OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)
Overview and features
The OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is an open-source web application security scanner designed for security professionals and developers alike. ZAP features automated scanning, manual testing capabilities, and a wide range of built-in tools to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in web applications.
ZAP is an excellent choice for organizations looking to secure their web applications against common attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and remote file inclusion (RFI).
Overview and features
Nikto is an open-source web server scanner that checks for potential vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and outdated server components. It can detect over 6,700 potentially dangerous files and programs and supports SSL, proxy servers, and various authentication methods.
Nikto is ideal for organizations seeking a specialized tool to evaluate the security of their web servers and detect potential
issues that could be exploited by attackers.
Overview and features
Arachni is a powerful open-source web application security scanner that can identify a wide range of vulnerabilities, including SQL injection, XSS, and insecure direct object references (IDOR). Arachni supports both automated and manual testing and offers an easy-to-use web interface.
Arachni is well-suited for organizations focused on securing their web applications and looking for a comprehensive vulnerability scanning tool that can integrate with their existing security infrastructure.
F. Metasploit Framework
Overview and features
The Metasploit Framework is a widely-used open-source penetration testing platform that enables security professionals to discover, exploit, and validate vulnerabilities in networks and applications. With a vast collection of pre-built exploit modules and payloads, Metasploit simplifies the process of vulnerability assessment and exploitation.
Metasploit is an essential tool for penetration testers and security professionals looking to validate the effectiveness of their security controls, identify areas for improvement, and simulate real-world attack scenarios.
Overview and features
Wireshark is an open-source network protocol analyzer that allows users to capture, analyze, and troubleshoot network traffic. It supports a wide range of protocols and provides deep insights into network behavior, performance, and potential security issues.
Wireshark is a valuable tool for network administrators, security analysts, and forensics investigators seeking to identify and resolve network-related security issues, monitor network performance, and analyze traffic patterns.
Free Attack Surface Management Resources
A. Websites and blogs
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving web application security. Their website offers a wealth of resources, including the OWASP Top Ten list of the most critical web application security risks, various security tools, and best practices.
The SANS Institute is a leading provider of cybersecurity training and research. Their website features a vast library of articles, whitepapers, and webcasts on various cybersecurity topics, including attack surface management.
Krebs on Security
Krebs on Security is a popular cybersecurity blog authored by investigative journalist Brian Krebs. The blog covers a wide range of topics, including data breaches, cybercrime, and security best practices.
Dark Reading is a comprehensive online resource for cybersecurity professionals, featuring news, analysis, and expert commentary on various aspects of information security, including attack surface management.
B. Online courses
Cybrary is an online learning platform offering free and paid cybersecurity courses covering a wide range of topics, including network security, penetration testing, and vulnerability management.
Coursera is an online education platform that partners with top universities and institutions to offer a variety of cybersecurity courses, some of which are available for free.
edX is an online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT, providing access to numerous cybersecurity courses from top institutions worldwide, with several available at no cost.
Udemy is an online learning platform offering a vast selection of cybersecurity courses, including some free options, covering topics such as network security, ethical hacking, and vulnerability assessment.
C. YouTube channels
Hak5 is a popular YouTube channel featuring engaging video content on various cybersecurity topics, including penetration testing, network security, and attack surface management.
The Cyber Mentor
The Cyber Mentor is a YouTube channel run by a seasoned cybersecurity professional, offering tutorials and practical demonstrations on topics such as ethical hacking, vulnerability scanning, and network security.
Security Weekly is a YouTube channel and podcast
network offering in-depth discussions, interviews, and expert insights on a wide range of cybersecurity topics, including attack surface management, vulnerability assessment, and threat intelligence.
IppSec is a YouTube channel focused on providing detailed walkthroughs of Capture The Flag (CTF) challenges and real-world penetration testing scenarios, helping viewers sharpen their skills and learn about various attack vectors and defense strategies.
Darknet Diaries is a popular podcast that dives deep into the world of cybercrime, data breaches, and cybersecurity, featuring captivating stories and expert insights that help listeners understand the complexities of the ever-evolving threat landscape.
The CyberWire is a daily cybersecurity podcast that covers the latest news, trends, and developments in the industry, offering expert analysis and insights on attack surface management and other critical aspects of information security.
Risky Business is a weekly podcast that provides news, commentary, and interviews on various cybersecurity topics, with a focus on the strategic, business, and policy aspects of information security.
Smashing Security is a light-hearted, informative podcast that covers the latest cybersecurity news, trends, and controversies, offering valuable insights on attack surface management and other important aspects of information security.
E. Security conferences and events
DEF CON is one of the world’s largest annual hacker conventions, featuring a wide range of presentations, workshops, and live demonstrations on various cybersecurity topics, including attack surface management, vulnerability assessment, and network security.
Black Hat is a leading cybersecurity conference series that brings together security researchers, practitioners, and industry experts to share their knowledge and expertise on a wide range of information security topics.
RSA Conference is an annual event that gathers cybersecurity professionals from around the globe to discuss the latest trends, innovations, and challenges in the industry, offering a rich program of keynotes, sessions, and workshops on various aspects of attack surface management and information security.
DerbyCon was an annual cybersecurity conference that ran from 2011 to 2019, featuring presentations, workshops, and training sessions on a variety of topics, including attack surface management, penetration testing, and network security. Although the conference is no longer active, many of its presentations and resources are still available online.
V. Attack Surface Management Best Practices1. Regular asset discovery and inventory
Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of all hardware, software, and network devices is essential for effective attack surface management. Regularly discovering and cataloging assets helps organizations identify potential vulnerabilities and weak points in their infrastructure.
- Continuous vulnerability scanning
Frequent vulnerability scanning helps organizations identify and prioritize security issues that need to be addressed. By regularly scanning their networks and applications, organizations can detect and remediate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers.
2. Patch management
Keeping systems, applications, and devices up-to-date with the latest security patches is crucial for reducing an organization’s attack surface. Implementing a robust patch management process ensures that known vulnerabilities are addressed promptly and reduces the risk of exploitation.
3. Security awareness training
Human factors, such as social engineering and insider threats, play a significant role in an organization’s attack surface. Regular security awareness training helps employees understand the importance of cybersecurity and equips them with the knowledge and skills to identify and prevent potential security incidents.
4. Incident response planning
Having a well-defined incident response plan in place is essential for minimizing the impact of a security breach. Organizations should establish clear procedures for detecting, containing, and recovering from security incidents, as well as for learning from each event to improve their overall security posture.
The importance of using free attack surface management tools and staying informed with current resources cannot be overstated. These tools and resources empower organizations to better understand their attack surface, identify vulnerabilities, and implement effective security measures to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. By leveraging these free solutions, organizations of all sizes can enhance their cybersecurity resilience and protect their digital assets.
In a world where cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, continuous learning is essential for staying ahead of potential risks. By utilizing the best free attack surface management tools and resources, you can ensure that your organization remains vigilant and proactive in its approach to cybersecurity.