What are Breach and Attack Simulations?

 

GLOSSARY

Breach and attack simulations are an advanced computer security testing method. These simulations identify vulnerabilities in security environments by mimicking the likely attack paths and techniques used by malicious actors. In this sense, a breach and attack simulation acts much like a continuous, automated penetration test, and it improves upon the inherent limitations of red and blue team testing.

WHAT IS BREACH AND ATTACK SIMULATION?

Security teams have long sought to test the strength of their organizational defenses through organized red and blue team exercises. Under these scenarios, the red team plays the role of malicious attackers, while the blue team is tasked with deterring these attacks.

These exercises are led by seasoned security professionals and staged under controlled environments. Ultimately, both sides work together to provide a clearer picture of the state of an organization’s security.

While red and blue team exercises have long been an important security tool, they suffer from two key disadvantages: They are highly manual and resource intensive. This means that most organizations can only run these tests episodically. This means that during the weeks or months between tests, vulnerabilities may arise undetected and defenders have little visibility into the true state of their security environment.

A breach and attack simulation platform solves this issue by performing many of the same critical functions as red and blue teams, but in a continuous and automated fashion.

THE BENEFITS OF AN AUTOMATED BREACH SIMULATION

An advanced cybersecurity breach simulator simulates, assesses and validates the most current attack techniques used by advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other malicious entities. It does this along the entire attack path to an organization’s critical assets, then provides a prioritized list of remediation steps if any vulnerabilities are discovered.

A breach simulation can simulate malware attacks on endpoints, data exfiltration, malware attacks and sophisticated APT attacks that move laterally through a network, targeting the most valuable assets.

By combining red and blue team techniques (a practice known as “purple teaming”) and automating them, breach and attack platforms provide continuous coverage. These simulations can be run on a 24/7, 365 basis, which ensures that organizations maintain much deeper visibility into the true state of their defense readiness. This is critical, as attackers can defeat any security setup given enough time, making continuous testing the most effective way to mitigate risk.

In addition to the benefits associated with automation and continuous monitoring, breach and attack simulations also allow security teams to change the manner in which they play defense. Instead of being reactive, waiting for the results of scans or for patches to be issued, a breach simulation allows defenders to adopt the mindset of the attacker. They can take the initiative and actively probe for vulnerabilities, rather than sitting back and hoping current security measures prove sufficient.

Breach and attack simulations bring another benefit to bear relative to conventional security validation: This model isn’t as reliant on human skill. Penetration testers and red or blue teams are comprised of people with specific skill sets and experience levels — and both of these things can vary considerably from person to person or team to team.

Human error caused by inexperience, oversight or poor judgment can affect the outcome of manual testing. Automated breach simulations remove this variable, in addition to increasing efficiency and lowering costs.

IN CONCLUSION

Breach and attack simulations can play a critical role in protecting key organizational assets by simulating likely attack techniques across all attack vectors, then providing prioritized remediation guidance.

By doing this in an automated, continuous fashion, breach simulations provide non-stop protection and allow defenders to take a more aggressive posture toward maintaining security across all aspects of a security environment.

Additional Resources

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