Attack surface analyzer is software which is used to analyze the changes made to the operating system by installation of the software. Whenever software is installed, it changes a lot of things in the system which are not visible to the normal user. Things like registry changes, changes to the network rules etc are common changes made to the system. If you have paid a little attention, at times, just after installation of new software, Windows Firewall would ask your permission to allow or block the software from accessing the internet over a public Wi-Fi access point. This is just one example of the change that the application makes to the Windows 7 Operating System. The reason why we talked about this specifically is that it is the best example to make new users understand the fact that installing software is different from copying it. Installation of software makes it in some ways a part of the operating system itself. Microsoft Attack Surface Analyzer allows you to review such changes to your system and tells you about the changes made to the system by the new software installation. Let us have a look at the benefits of the Attack Surface Analyzer:
As we have already said, installing software will make changes to the system at different points. The question that arises is: “What points are affected by the installation?” or in a more humane way to read, “What changes has the software made?” The answer to this question becomes complicated when you have to look inside each change and see what the problem could be. The software you installed could have made thousands of changes to the file system, a few hundreds to the registry and tens of network rules. It might have installed thousand libraries of which half are shared! Isn’t that a mess? Well, we think it is. To analyze thing in such a condition can be daunting task if you want to do it manually. Attack Surface Analyzer allows you to see such changes in one go at one place in an organized manner so that you do not have to worry about the system changes. Relaxed eh?
Software problems can be too severe or casual. Casual Security issues pose a less threat compared to the severe threats. A less severe security threat would not allow an attacker to gain too much of a control over the computer, while a sever threat can have many implications when exploited. When you have a security threat of higher severity, it is important that the threat is patched and removed quickly. Leaving the threat open to attackers can be fatal to the organization. But how do we know how severe is the threat? The answer is what you already have guessed: using Attack Surface Analyzer. This software will not only tell you the threat but also how severe it is, which makes it easy for the IT administrator and the developer to make changes to the system in a way that the threat is either completely removed or at least comes down on the security threat severity.
Not everyone is an expert on everything. We have an area which we are interested in and love to work upon. One would usually know more about the area of his work than any other area. But when it comes to security, it is not too easy to look at things. Changing one thing can change a couple or more things in the system. Moreover, in cyber security, we have a lot of terms which have meanings close to each other. It is important that when Attack Surface Analyzer tells you the problem or a weakness in the system security, you are able to understand it! Otherwise, you might be making yourself as well as your organization fall into a big problem (that depends on the severity of the threat). Attack Surface Analyzer is helpful enough to list down the explanations of the terms with some recommendation so that you do not have much trouble understanding those terms. However, once again these terms might not be for complete newbie’s. They are meant for the IT professionals.
In computing, one term may apply to various contexts. For example, the word ‘render’ is valid for both browsing as well as creating a movie! Let’s take an example from the security field. The word ACL (which stands of Access Control List) applies to a lot of fields. They include file systems, networks, libraries, services etc. So when you are said that a particular component (say a file) has a weakness in ACL, it can mean anything. It may mean that the service that the file runs is not good. It may mean that the file permissions for the file are not right; or it may also mean that the way you have configured your firewall with respect to that file is not right! So how will you tell what ACL are we talking about? Attack Surface Analyzer tells you in the report what exactly is wrong so that you can only change that ACL which could create problems and not mess around with something else!
These are some of the best features of Attack Surface Analyzer which can help you gain more insight into the software installation.