Proprietary Research from Tenable Calculates External Attack Surface of Australia’s Largest Organisations
Posted: Thursday, Jul 13
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  • Proprietary Research from Tenable Calculates External Attack Surface of Australia’s Largest Organisations
Proprietary Research from Tenable Calculates External Attack Surface of Australia’s Largest Organisations

Sydney, Australia – 13 July 2023 – New research conducted by Tenable®, Inc., the Exposure Management company, has unveiled a number of cyber hygiene issues such as outdated software, weak encryption and misconfigurations present within the largest organisations in Australia.

On June 28, 2023, an examination of the external attack surface of 25 of Australia’s organisations with the largest market capital [as listed on Market Index] was conducted. The findings revealed that the average organisation possesses nearly 12,000 internet-facing assets which are susceptible to potential exploitation, resulting in a total of more than 290,000 assets across the study group. These findings illustrate the immense scale of the cybersecurity architecture that organisations must secure to protect sensitive data and critical systems.

“Australia reported 76,000 cyber attacks last year, equivalent to one every 7 minutes,” said Scott McKinnel, Country Manager ANZ for Tenable. “These recent high-profile cyberattacks serve as a stark reminder that bad actors only need to succeed once, while defenders must ensure cybersecurity is effective every single time. Australia’s digital security is paramount and it all begins with a comprehensive understanding of the attack surface and every potential entry point.”

 

Weak SSL/TLS encryption 

One striking observation is that out of the total number of assets for all companies tracked, organisations had over 9,500 web-based assets that still support TLS 1.0 [a security protocol first defined in 1999 for establishing encrypted channels over computer networks] that was disabled by Microsoft in September [2022]. This is just one example demonstrating how challenging it’s become for organisations with large internet footprints to identify and update outdated technology.

 

Outdated version of Log4J still present
The examination revealed that out of the total assets for all companies tracked, more than 8,000 assets are susceptible to the Log4J vulnerability. This alarming finding highlights a significant concern, as known vulnerabilities like Log4J are the primary cause of a majority of cyberattacks. By relying on outdated versions of Log4J, organizations are leaving themselves exposed to potential cybersecurity breaches. 

 

Misconfiguration increases external exposure
Another concerning finding was that over 12,000 assets out of the total, initially intended for internal use, have been inadvertently exposed and are now accessible externally. Not hardening these internal assets presents a substantial risk to organisations, as it effectively opens the door for malicious actors to target sensitive information and critical systems.

 

API vulnerabilities amplify risk

Furthermore, the identification of more than 4,000 APIs out of the total number of assets among organisations’ digital infrastructure poses a substantial risk to their security and operational integrity. APIs serve as crucial connectors between software applications, facilitating seamless data exchange. However, inadequate authentication, insufficient input validation, weak access controls, and vulnerabilities in dependencies within API implementations create a vulnerable attack surface. Such weaknesses can be exploited by malicious actors to gain unauthorised access, compromise data integrity, and launch devastating cyberattacks.

“An alarming reality is that only a handful of organisations possess a comprehensive understanding of their complete digital footprint. One of the most prevalent and perilous security oversights is the inadvertent misconfiguration of cloud resources, making them vulnerable to the internet,” highlighted Nathan Wenzler, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist at Tenable. “It is crucial for every business or government entity to possess advanced capabilities that can identify previously invisible points of vulnerability. By proactively preventing attacks rather than merely managing them, organisations can effectively safeguard their digital infrastructure.”

 

About Tenable

Tenable® is the Exposure Management company. Approximately 43,000 organisations around the globe rely on Tenable to understand and reduce cyber risk. As the creator of Nessus®, Tenable extended its expertise in vulnerabilities to deliver the world’s first platform to see and secure any digital asset on any computing platform. Tenable customers include approximately 60 percent of the Fortune 500, approximately 40 percent of the Global 2000, and large government agencies. Learn more at tenable.com.

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Tenable examined the top 25 companies, listed on https://www.marketindex.com.au/asx50
  2. In the context of this alert:
  • An asset is a domain name, subdomain, or IP addresses and/or combination thereof of a device connected to the Internet or internal network. An asset may include, but not limited to web servers, name servers, IoT devices, network printers, etc. Example: foo.tld, bar.foo.tld, x.x.x.xs.
  • The Attack Surface is from the network perspective of an adversary, the complete asset inventory of an organisation including all actively listening services (open ports) on each asset.
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