What is Human Attack Surface?

This blog covers what Human Attack Surface is and how to mitigate risks efficiently and effectively. Have a listen to our ThreatBite episode to learn more about this topic.

Human Attack Surface refers to the potential vulnerabilities and risks posed by an organisation’s employees, contractors, vendors, and other individuals who have access to sensitive information or systems. These individuals are considered the weakest link in the security chain and can unintentionally or intentionally cause harm to an organisation’s assets.

Factors Contributing to Human Attack Surface

There are several factors that contribute to an organisation’s human attack surface, including:

  • Lack of Awareness: Employees and other individuals may not be aware of the potential risks or security protocols in place, making them more susceptible to unintentional breaches.
  • Insider Threats: Employees with malicious intent or those who have been compromised may use their access to cause harm to an organisation.
  • Social Engineering: Attackers may use social engineering tactics, such as phishing emails or pretexting, to manipulate employees into providing sensitive information or granting access.
  • Third-party Vendors: Organisations often rely on third-party vendors for various services, and these individuals can also pose a risk if they have access to sensitive information or systems.

What is an Example of a Human Attack Surface Attack?

A common example of a human attack surface attack is phishing. In this type of attack, an attacker sends a fraudulent email or message to employees, posing as a legitimate source, in an attempt to trick them into providing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links

  • Being Cautious of Suspicious Emails: Employees should be wary of emails or messages requesting sensitive information, clicking on unknown links, or downloading attachments from unfamiliar sources.
  • Verifying Requests for Information: If an email or message requests sensitive information, employees should verify the authenticity of the request through a separate channel before providing any information.
  • Regularly Updating Security Protocols: Organisations should regularly review and update their security protocols to stay ahead of potential attacks and keep employees informed.
  • Encouraging a Reporting Culture: Employees should be encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately, allowing for quick action to be taken to prevent or mitigate an attack.

Mitigating the Human Attack Surface

Organisations can take several measures to mitigate the risks posed by their human attack surface, including:

  • Security Awareness Training: Educating employees and other individuals on security protocols and best practices can help increase awareness and reduce the likelihood of unintentional breaches.
  • Access Controls: Implementing strict access controls, such as role-based access or multi-factor authentication, can limit an individual’s access to only what is necessary for their job.
  • Periodic Security Assessments: Regularly conducting security assessments, such as vulnerability scans and penetration testing, can help identify potential vulnerabilities and address them before they are exploited.
  • Vendor Management: Organisations should have a thorough vendor management process in place to ensure that third-party vendors adhere to the same security standards and protocols as the organisation.


Overall, reducing human attack surface requires a combination of technical measures, employee education, and regular assessments to stay vigilant against potential risks. By implementing these strategies, organisations can better protect their assets and minimise the impact of any potential breaches. So, it is essential to continuously evaluate and improve security measures to keep up with ever-evolving threats. Stay informed, stay secure!

Here at DarkInvader, we provide Human Attack Surface intelligence to help managers predict, plan and prepare for future security breaches.


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