November 18, 2022

Offensive Security – What Is It and Why Should Your Business Do It?

As technology constantly improves, businesses find smart ways to utilize automation and optimization of various processes. However, when fallen into the hands of the wrong person, this technology can, unfortunately, become a powerful tool for malicious activities and hacking. Cyber attacks are one of the top worries for businesses of all sizes and so doing everything they can to protect themselves is a must. Offensive security is one of the most effective ways to implement the best cybersecurity practices in your business. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is offensive security?

Offensive security is essentially a way of testing and improving cybersecurity efforts in an organization by using proactive methods. This means that a team of professionals, also referred to as the red team, will simulate a variety of different attacks on a company using the same malicious tools and methods as real-life hackers would. By doing so, business is able to pinpoint their security vulnerabilities and implement more effective technology to protect themselves. 

Offensive VS Defensive security

The conventional methods of cybersecurity in businesses are often referred to as defensive security. This kind of security is more reactive, meaning that system vulnerabilities are fixed, and software issues are patched once found through prevention and response. The majority of organizations use defensive security, and while it works most of the time, it does not always catch malicious activities on time. 

Offensive security, on the other hand, is more proactive, which means that any loopholes in the company’s security efforts will be found through a wide range of tests, getting ahead before the real hackers get a chance to do so. The red teams are incredibly thorough with their testing, making sure that all cybersecurity layers within the organization are put to the test. 

How does red teaming work?

The red teams will typically embody a type of malicious actor that could be the reality for the business in the future. This can be anything, from normal remote hackers to competitor attacks, activists and terrorists, compromised collaborators, malicious employee activity, and other threat actors that the company may be worried about. 

During the offensive security activities, the red team will have certain objectives set for themselves from the perspective of a real attacker. For example, they will be attempting to deploy ransomware, leak sensitive information, manipulate or sabotage the company’s products, gain access to their financial information, and so on. In order to do this, the teams will use a range of different vectors through which they could potentially achieve the said objectives. This may include WiFi or Ethernet, VPN, password guessing, user accounts, social engineering (such as phishing emails), ransomware simulations, and many others. 

This kind of security testing is incredibly elaborate and, as such, does not have a limited scope. It is focused on verifying the real detection and response capabilities of an organization as well as identifying ways to make it even more resilient to cybersecurity threats. Because the attacks must represent the real situation at an unexpected time, such exercises will usually take at least 3 months to obtain the results. 

About the author 

Kyrie Mattos

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