May 6, 2022

What is Breach and Attack Simulation, and How Does It Level Up Your Cybersecurity?

Data shows 1,243 security incidents in 2021, 11% more than in 2020. 

The figure highlights rising cyberattacks. 

If your defenses are weak or have many vulnerable areas, your business could be easily added to that statistic. 

While it might not be possible to make your cybersecurity 100% impenetrable, there are ways to strengthen your defenses, including boosting your computer security.

One solution is to deploy Breach and Attack Simulation. 

Read on to learn more about breach and attack simulation and why implementing it is crucial to fortify your cybersecurity and, in turn, increase protection for your customer and business-critical data and systems.   

Why security vulnerabilities exist

No technology can promise 100% guaranteed protection against cyber-attacks. 

Software such as applications, operating systems, networks, and even security solutions often include bugs that attackers can exploit. 

Also, continuous software app changes and updates can introduce new flaws into your network.  

Another cause of security risks is poor or improper security tool adoption and implementation. 

For instance, if your IT teams rush through your security tool adoption, they could easily miss a few configurations or steps during setup. 

You could also implement rigid firewall policies to keep attackers from breaching your network from outside. 

However, malware can still penetrate your network if your endpoint protection is lacking or a careless employee inserts an infected flash drive into a workstation.

This is where breach and attack simulations come in handy. 

Breach and attack simulation: A quick overview

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) refers to the technology and platforms that simulate automated attacks mimicking those deployed by real-life hackers and cybercriminals. 

The simulated attacks are designed to help companies detect potential vulnerabilities within networks, systems, computers, etc. 

BAS platforms can also test out a company’s threat and risk detection and prevention capabilities, including the existing cybersecurity controls. 

How BAS works

The traditional ways of finding gaps and testing defenses include security validation methods such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and red and blue teaming. 

However, these methods often have limitations. 

For instance, vulnerability scan reports list the detected vulnerabilities, but it’s up to you to determine the appropriate actions for remediation. 

The scans can also create false positives, flagging particular issues that may not pose much of a threat or impact on your security. 

In addition, pen tests and red teaming can be resource-intensive, requiring highly skilled security professionals for effective deployment. It means that the effectiveness of pen tests and red teaming can largely depend on the skills of security experts who carry out the tests.  

BAS is designed to take the typical testing processes further by simplifying and streamlining the methods for users to check existing security controls. 

You can think of BAS as having pen testing and vulnerability scanning capabilities combined into one Do-It-Yourself (DIY) platform.  

BAS solutions are commonly available as cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), hosting various modules that run the tests automatically.   

A software agent is usually installed on a computer within a network. It handles the interactions with the cloud platform during testing. 

BAS platforms can reference comprehensive knowledge bases such as the MITRE ATT&CK® Framework. The framework allows BAS solutions to draw the potential tactics and techniques cybercriminals use to deploy real-world-like attacks. 

With BAS, the simulated attacks often use hack tools and malware (which doesn’t do real damage to your systems). The goal is to trigger and track responses from your security controls and solutions. 

The importance of BAS and how it helps improve your security

Some ways BAS platforms can help fortify your cybersecurity include the following. 

Detect potential attack vectors in your network

BAS platforms can run simulations that mimic attackers that successfully breach your network. 

The simulated attacks can help your security team assess if a hacker can move laterally across your devices via:

  • Privilege escalation. This kind of network attack is used to get unauthorized access to systems in a security perimeter. Hackers begin the attack by looking for weak points in your infrastructure’s defenses and gaining access to your system.
  • Exploits. These are codes that take advantage of security flaws and software vulnerabilities. Attackers use exploits to remotely access and move deeper into your network (or obtain elevated privileges).  

Malicious actors can also use exploits as part of multicomponent attacks. For instance, the exploit can drop another malware, such as spyware, instead of using a malicious file to steal user information from infected systems. 

Additionally, BAS platforms can test if your data can be exfiltrated and sent to destinations outside your network. 

Test your firewall

BAS solutions can launch attacks against specific URLs (e.g., your company’s web app or portal) to try and get around the firewall in place

The platforms can test if your firewall can keep incoming malicious traffic from slipping through. 

BAS technologies can also level up the simulated attacks by trying to mine confidential data and deploying injection attacks and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) to try and breach your firewall.

All these can help you determine whether your firewalls are strong enough to withstand potential attacks, allowing you to remediate gaps promptly. 

Check your email security

BAS solutions can send various messages with multiple infected file attachments, such as ransomware and other payloads, to your email service. 

The simulations can test how well your sanitation solution, antivirus software, and email filters can detect and keep the infected files within your messages from coming in.   

Assess your endpoint security solutions

BAS platforms can evaluate if malware, including worms and viruses, can exist and deploy on your company’s workstations. 

BAS solutions can also test and outline how malware can spread on your devices. You can validate your security solutions’ capabilities to spot and keep malware from spreading across your network.  

Spot website and browser security weaknesses

BAS platforms can connect to dummy web pages and sites with malicious scripts and forms through HTTP and HTTPS protocols. 

The platforms can run the tests to check the pages that make it through your internet security filters. 

BAS can also assess whether your endpoint protection can keep malicious files from getting downloaded successfully by the browser. 

Fortify your security controls with BAS

While BAS platforms aren’t intended to provide 100% protection from cyber threats and attacks, these can help find gaps in your existing controls, allowing you to remediate them promptly and effectively. 

Learn a thing or two from the tips in this guide and opt for reliable, cost-effective BAS solutions that address your business’s unique cybersecurity needs. 

The right BAS platform can help streamline your efforts to strengthen and fortify your cybersecurity controls and solutions for better protection against threats. 

About the author 

Kyrie Mattos

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}