Three Key Ways Attack Simulations Can Help Tighten Enterprise Security

Enterprises face the tough challenge of ensuring the security of their IT infrastructures. Data breach attempts have now commonplace as the customer data and intellectual property that businesses process have become prime targets for hackers to steal. Companies also have to be wary of other attack methods like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, and viruses which all can cause costly downtime.
Cybersecurity firm Symantec expects attack methods to even become more complex. Hackers now look to use cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to find and exploit vulnerabilities in enterprise networks more effectively and with minimal effort. To face the challenge, companies are now increasing their cybersecurity investments, adopting advanced solutions to mitigate and respond to these evolving threats. According to Gartner, security spending is expected to exceed $124 billion by this year.
However, a key question lingers — how can organizations even check if these security solutions even work?
Traditionally, security testing is done by security experts who attempt to breach networks. However, given the quick pace both threats and infrastructures change, these tests can be costly and tedious to routinely perform. Breach and attack simulations (BAS) services are emerging to fill this need area. BAS platforms like Cymulate, for instance, offer IT teams with the capability to test many areas of security more efficiently from basic hacks all the way up to advanced persistent threats with easy-to-use interfaces.
Here are three key ways BAS can help enterprises improve and harden their defenses against cyberattacks.

Perform Comprehensive Testing

Conventional security testing often involves penetration testing. IT teams typically form “red teams” that would attempt to breach the organization’s infrastructure using the various methods and tools that hackers have at their disposal. They use testing tools like Metasploit to scan networks and devices for vulnerabilities and deploy custom payloads to see how security solutions react to different malware.
However, successful testing depends on the tester’s capabilities and is often limited to a subset of the various attack vectors that attackers can exploit. Fortunately, BAS solutions are capable of testing a wider set of vectors. IT teams also only need to identify which areas and solutions they would like to test such as endpoint security, web application firewalls, email protection, and antiviruses. The service already has the necessary test protocols to see how each area’s defense performs.
Detailed reports are then generated from these tests, showing the effectiveness of the various security measures in place. Using these reports as basis, IT teams would then be able to improve security by implementing new protocols, revising rule sets, or even swapping out ineffective solutions.

Expose Human Vulnerabilities

Human error remains to be one of the key causes of security incidences in organizations. According to Kaspersky, social engineering attacks have contributed to nine of ten cloud breaches. However, the human factor remains one of the trickier areas to cover in cybersecurity. Protection from social engineering attacks requires both security solutions to work and end users to adopt the right mindset and behavior.
Select BAS platforms include testing against such attacks. Phishing attack simulation sends phishing email containing dummy malicious links to users’ emails. Testers can even customize available templates that mimic links to customary landing pages. These email check how well end users are able to discern and identify malicious links from legitimate ones.
The platform then records each time the dummy links are clicked indicating that an employee could’ve fallen victim to a similar attempt. By knowing how many users fall to such attempts, companies can intervene and provide better awareness and training to their workforce.

Enable Constant Protection

Cyberattack threats not only are rampant but they are also persistent as hackers now leverage automation to their advantage. They have tools that constantly check if vulnerabilities exist within a target network. If found, hackers also have the means to readily exploit them.
In response, systems and applications developers deploy constant updates to plug these vulnerabilities. Windows, for example, checks for updates daily and often gets patches on a weekly basis. Some antiviruses and endpoint security solutions even release multiple daily updates of their definitions.
Companies can quickly deploy these patches using IT management solutions. Because of this, it has become a challenge for IT teams to check if their security solutions still work post-patch since it is possible that certain conflicts can arise because of the changes. Traditional penetration testing and red team approaches can also lag behind this rapid release cycle.
BAS platforms can automate the testing process so that tests can be done periodically and even as soon as new patches or changes are implemented. By ensuring that all security measures function at all times, organizations would be able to establish constant protection against persistent threats.

Better Safe than Sorry

Given the costs of cybersecurity solutions, organizations must consider their security as investments. As such, they must also put in place measures to ensure that they are getting the right returns for their spending.
No business would want their investments go to waste by eventually falling victim to an attack just because their security solutions failed to work as they should. IT teams must constantly probe their own defenses for vulnerabilities. Fortunately, BAS solutions are now available for them to capably test and gain insights on how well their defenses perform.
Using these insights, they would be able to harden their defensive perimeter and enforce more stringent security measures.


Irfan Shakeel
irfan shakeel, the founder of ehacking project, he also hosts classes at eh academy. he has found many vulnerabilities in the world’s known platforms, he has been providing it security training since 2010. you might have read his articles and opinion on ibm developers, infosec institute, alienvault, eh academy and other known blogs. follow him on twitter, linkedin and quora.

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