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What is Breach and Attack Simulation?

May 10, 2021
Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is a cloud-based security control solution responsible for identifying breaches and gaps in systems and applications, avoiding cyberattacks, and continuously strengthening the company’s security posture. 
Breaches and attacks simulations platforms ensure that you find and address any weaknesses and vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. The platform performs multiple actions that mimic real threats and attacks to determine whether your security controls can fight them or not.
It complements pentest exercises and makes red teaming exercises frequent, without overloading your IT staff.

Security controls

In simples terms, security control is anything that limits the ability of a threat actor to accomplish their goal or otherwise stop even a legitimate user from doing something they shouldn’t.  Security controls can be devices, software, or policies - and all are critical to making sure that everything stays safe in your organization.
Common examples of devices and software include anti-malware tools, firewalls, web filters, and e-mail filters.
Company regulations that inform employees about which websites are acceptable and unacceptable to access at work are examples of policies.
Security controls are powerful tools for any organization, but they can be complex and challenging to manage. An enterprise anti-malware platform may have dozens of pages of settings and configuration options. Setting something incorrectly can have consequences, ranging from leaving the company open to attacks to preventing users from getting their jobs done.
Because of the complexity of these solutions and policies, there are times where even the best security and IT teams make mistakes and accidentally weaken security. A single mistake can wind up costing the business millions of dollars, not only in lost revenue but also in lost time and loss of reputation.
Add to this the fact that the cybersecurity landscape changes on a daily - sometimes hourly - basis. A minor bug in an application’s code that caused no problems yesterday can become an entry for an anxious cybercriminal to exploit today.
So even though all your security controls are working perfectly, there can still be weaknesses that a threat actor can use. Worst of all, it can evolve so quickly that it might go undetected for months, and by the time that you finally spot the threat, it may be too late to recover.

BAS Applications

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is one of the answers to ensure you find and address weaknesses without breaking the network or the bank account. At its core, it’s a platform designed to perform actions that closely mimic actual threats and attacks to determine if your security controls are efficient.  
BAS uses complex attack scenarios that attempt to bypass these control systems to reach a specific goal. If that goal can be reached (such as traffic making it through a firewall or delivering an e-mail to an end recipient), it means that the platform uncovered a flaw in that control that needs remediation.
Cymulate, the Breach and Attack Simulation platform offered by BACCF patron member Hivecore, has multiple simulations designed to test a variety of vectors (pathways that can be used to gain access to systems and resources). Below are some of these vectors.

E-mail Gateway

E-mail Gateway vector simulations send e-mails that your spam filters should definitely block.

Endpoint vectors

Endpoint vector simulations drop files that will be identified as malware to see if anti-malware tools detect them. 
That simulation can even execute files so that behavioral-based detection systems (EDR’s) will identify malicious activity and jump into action, but safely and controlled to avoid creating even more risk in the process.

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Web Application Firewall (WAF) simulations attempt to trick a web server into giving up information or performing actions that it should not. This activity must be stopped before it ever reaches the actual web server itself.

Efficient platform

BAS is also designed to be run repeatedly or even automated to keep security tight and up-to-date, making it easier for the organization to handle. The tests are designed not to interfere with production operations, working quietly behind the scenes. Users don’t even notice them running unless you run the Phishing Awareness vector, which tests team member’s vigilance.
Combined, these properties of BAS allow your IT or security teams to test whenever they need to, rather than waiting for scheduled change-control times. And unlike manual penetration testing or complex vulnerability scanners, BAS tools, like Cymulate, are designed for even those who are not security experts to use effectively and efficiently.
This means that you can take advantage of a higher level of security without increasing headcount or outsourcing to a specialized firm. While it cannot remove the need for manual pen-testing (especially if required by regulations), it can dramatically reduce the number of manual pen-tests you need to do in many cases, impacting the overall security posture.

Closing Thoughts

BAS solutions test the security controls of your environment without impacting your end-users or requiring extensive cybersecurity knowledge. You can confirm that all of the security controls you put in place are working effectively, doing everything you expect them to be doing and quickly ensuring that you are protected against the latest threats. 
Finally, you can repeatedly test - and whenever needed. More importantly, if there are any weaknesses discovered anywhere, you can find the information you need to remediate the problem and close the gap quickly and thoroughly. BAS is the method that tests everything else you have in place from a security perspective and allows you to stop speculating on if your security posture is where it needs to be.
Cymulate challenges your security controls with just a few clicks by initiating thousands of attack simulations, showing you exactly where you’re exposed and how to fix it—24/7 regardless of where you are.

Source: HiveCore Enterprise Solutions LLC

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