What is Cyber Attack Modeling?

GLOSSARY

Cyber attack modeling is an approximation of adversarial threats against a computer system. Cyber attack models are created to identify and simulate attacks against security environments, using likely adversary techniques and attack paths. By modeling attacks, defenders better understand the behavior, tactics and objectives of adversaries and can take steps to remediate any vulnerabilities within their environments

Cyber attacks continue to increase in number and sophistication each year, forcing security professionals to expend enormous effort protecting their critical assets. Botnets, viruses, trojans and other malicious software attacks result in billions of dollars in annual losses for global enterprises and governments.

With new forms of malware emerging and attackers becoming better resourced and more creative, security teams need tools that allow them to anticipate likely attacks, identify vulnerabilities and remediate any problems that are uncovered. The cyber attack model is one of the most effective methods for accomplishing this task.

This approach not only helps shine a light on existing security problems within an environment, it also allows defenders to understand the characteristics of attacks, the methods by which they are executed and the behavior and goals of the adversary launching the attack.
The means attack modeling plays a critical role in providing a perspective on how attacks can be stopped in a coordinated and effective manner.

Deterring Corporate Cyber Attacks Through Modeling

When managing cybersecurity risk, organizations often engage in threat modeling, risk assessment and attack modeling. Threat modeling deals with the possibility of a negative event occurring. Risk assessment details how likely it is that this threat will cause a loss. Attack modeling deals with precisely how vulnerabilities are exploited to create this loss. In practice, threat and attack modeling concepts are sometimes used interchangeably, and some modern security solutions incorporate both elements within a single implementation.

In the world of cybersecurity, it is very difficult to protect against attacks effectively without understanding where vulnerabilities lie. By modeling attacks, defenders gain visibility into the presence and severity of vulnerabilities that may have otherwise remained undetected.

Simulating cyber attacks in a controlled environment is one of the most effective attack modeling implementations. Cyber attack simulation tools — such as breach and attack simulation platforms — allow organizations to mimic the techniques and tactics of adversaries across likely cyber attack vectors. By simulating adversary behavior across the attack chain, defenders can adopt the mindset of attackers and pinpoint the precise vulnerabilities that exist within a security environment.

Many solutions that incorporate cyber attack modeling will provide prioritized remediation guidance after vulnerabilities have been identified. By launching simulated attacks, uncovering security gaps and then offering ranked recommendations, these tools can help organizations stay one step ahead of attackers.

Moving organizational security from a purely reactive posture to one that aggressively (and often continuously) probes for vulnerabilities based on known attacks is a hallmark of this approach. By engaging in attack modeling, it is possible to gain deeper insight into the vulnerability of a security environment and understand the behavior and objectives of adversaries. Ultimately, it then becomes possible deter cyber attacks or handle incoming attacks in a carefully planned and responsive fashion.

In Conclusion

The sophistication of advanced persistent threats and the growing complexity of cloud security management have left defenders with a significant challenge to meet. Cyber attack modeling is one of the most effective methods for identifying and remediating vulnerabilities. By modeling attacker behavior, defenders can reach a deeper understanding of their tactics and goals. By adopting the mindset of the attacker in a controlled environment, it becomes possible to gain a deeper perspective on how attacks are likely to unfold, then take the necessary steps to either deter attacks or limit any damage caused by their execution.

Additional Resources

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