How to Test If Your Cybersecurity Works With Breach and Attack Simulation
How to Test If Your Cybersecurity Works With Breach and Attack Simulation

On average, companies have 36 security points to protect their networks and systems. You might have separate security tools to protect your cloud, web application, and endpoint devices that your remote team uses to log into the network.

How does that look when it comes to real-life cyber protection within the organization?

Besides the basic tools such as an antivirus and firewall that protect devices from attacks and malware, companies have authentication processes to prevent possible unauthorized access or even specific protocols that govern how IT teams use the software.

If you have installed all the necessary tools, you might be wondering — would they keep hackers away in a case of a real cyber breach?

How can you check whether you have enough security points and that they work for your organization at all times?

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is a tool that companies have been using to validate whether all the tools, protocols, and people managing security can protect their attack surface.

With Breach and Attack Simulation, you can test both people using the tools that protect your company and the software you have in place.

How does the BAS tool validate the tools you have, test the system against likely threats, and what follows the simulation?

Evaluating People and Security Tools With BAS

Breach and Attack simulate attacks to test if your software does what it’s supposed to. For example, it could check whether your anti-malware can remove a virus and detect it even before it enters your system.

However, BAS also assesses people who are using those tools. With the BAS tool, you can test whether your IT team manages security properly.

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One method that is commonly used to evaluate reaction time and knowledge of your IT team is red teaming.

The exercise separates your team into two groups (red is the adversary that attacks and blue that defends the network) to encourage them to think like a cybercriminal and uncover any unconscious biases.

Besides your IT team, you can test other employees to determine whether they have strong passwords to log into your systems or if they need more training on cybersecurity. For instance, you can simulate a phishing attack via email that commonly targets employees.

Testing Security Against Likely Attacks

To check if your network is vulnerable to possible threats, it’s important to test it with the attacks that have been successfully used by hackers for years but also use new hacking methods.

Common attacks that you can simulate with the BAS tool are:

  • DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) that overwhelms the traffic of websites, making them unusable or too slow
  • Social engineering attacks such as phishing that target employees in your company
  • Malware attempts that could be combined with email phishing or even find their way into your devices via USB

What makes security even more challenging is that there might be new threats for which systems aren’t ready yet. That is to say, you might not have tools that protect you from new methods that hackers use to attack.

For example, Wiper Malware, which deletes all the data from the hard drive, has been employed in the cyberwar between Russia and Ukraine.

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How can you protect your company from new cyber techniques that you haven’t anticipated?

To combat this issue, Breach and Attack Simulation has been linked to the MITRE ATT&CK Network. This is a site that lists and describes the latest techniques and methods that hackers have developed and used to penetrate networks.

Therefore, besides testing the tools, protocols, and employees using known attacks, the BAS tool adds new types of methods to test your network depending on the new developments in cybersecurity and recent hacking attempts.

Patching up Flaws After the Breach and Attack Simulation

Following the Breach and Attack Simulation, you will get a report that has two outcomes:

  • Breach and attack simulation is successful — this will uncover flaws in your system and alerts you whether you need more tools or employee training to strengthen your security
  • Your tools and people defended the network and reacted to the threat on time — this shows you that the security you have is sufficient

If you’ve tested people who manage your security or tried to assess whether your employees will open a phishing email and the simulation resulted in a successful breach, they likely need more cybersecurity training.

Any flaws that have been uncovered in the testing will have to be patched up. Your team will start with the high-risk vulnerabilities and move on to other weaknesses in the systems that are less likely to turn into incidents.

The BAS tool can also be set to continually test the system against the specific threat — such as those that have proven to result in a successful breach following the BAS testing.

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Why Is Breach and Attack Simulation Necessary?

For many individuals and companies, your cybersecurity strategy ends with setting up a defense. Here you may have all the tools and perhaps even people who manage them (depending on the size of the operation).

However, every business has a unique attack surface. Weak points in security can appear at any time and there is no such thing as foolproof cybersecurity.

Hackers often come up with new methods that you cannot anticipate, and your ever-changing network could reveal new flaws during a regular system update.

Therefore, the best you can do is to test the network 24/7 with tools such as the BAS and strengthen your security based on the new data.

Breach and Attack Simulation automatically and continuously checks if your network is protected and whether it can hold its own in case of a hacking attempt.

The tool gives you a sense of security. It confirms whether your IT team and software can protect you before you find out during a real cyber breach that financially damages your company.

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.