Home Deep DiveArticles Understanding Threat Actors with Breach and Attack Simulation Establishes Continuous Security Validation

Understanding Threat Actors with Breach and Attack Simulation Establishes Continuous Security Validation


By- Shailendra Shyam Sahasrabudhe, Country Manager, India, UAE and South East Asia, Cymulate Ltd

“To know your enemy, you must become your enemy” – The Art of War, Sun Tzu.

Today, across organizations cyber-attacks are getting more sophisticated and severe every day. Cybercriminals do not leave any stone unturned in spotting even the tiniest vulnerability to gain access to enterprise networks. Despite implementing robust cybersecurity solutions at enterprises, unfortunately, the average time to detect a breach is 287 days. Moreover, cyberattacks are not showing any signs of slowing down.

With these attacks exponentially increasing despite implementing security measures, CISOs at every organization have begun to understand the truth behind Sun Tzu’s saying about becoming the enemy or the cyber attackers in this context. They now know the limitations of defensive cybersecurity measures and want to address this by proactively challenging the very security tools that they deployed by thinking from the threat actor’s perspective and by using treat actors’ techniques and tactics. It is very critical to proactively validate the efficacy of every security control that is deployed in organization in order to understand if CISOs are getting best ROI on their investment.  Moreover, the lack of skilled workforce in cybersecurity is making it difficult to verify if the defensive tools procured are most optimally configured or whether they have desired capability. Hence it is also driving businesses to take the offensive cybersecurity route, which is quicker and more accurate than traditional security measures.

Challenges of skill shortage remain

Research by (ISC)², the world’s largest nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals reveals that 3-4 million more cybersecurity workers are required to secure assets effectively. Due to high-profile data breaches, macroeconomic instability, and geopolitical situation, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is increasing daily. In cyberattacks, lightning often strikes not once but twice. First, the threat actors publish and sell data on the dark web, and then the chances of them returning for more and even harder are high too. But most enterprises fail to pinpoint security vulnerabilities in real-time, primarily due to a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. This shortage is driving businesses to spend more on cybersecurity technologies that claim to address security challenges. But this has resulted in disjointed security architecture.

Yes, today, organizations use numerous security tools to mitigate threats leading to a tool sprawl which further gives rise to several issues with the security teams ignoring security alerts as there are too many of them to manage. This further makes security management more complex as each tool has to be maintained individually by the already overworked team members with fatigue setting in. The volume of data and alerts is also too high for security analysts to handle efficiently. Furthermore, the security teams and CISOs are often unable to comprehensively understand and measure an organization’s security readiness in real-time. To simultaneously see the bigger picture in a multi-layered security environment and gauge each tool’s effectiveness is a real challenge for the security teams.

The Need for Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS)

Failure of the IT infrastructure is due to the constantly evolving threat landscape. All enterprise networks remain in a constant state of change due to numerous devices and applications both connecting and disconnecting from the IT infrastructure. These dynamic networks require robust security controls and policy updates in real-time. Traditional validation methods like VAPT, red team are always of fixed scope, never available on demand and are opaque. They have failed to solve todays every increasing cyber challenges.

Today’s new-age businesses are rapidly expanding, evolving, and spanning across data centers, employees, and multiple clouds while interacting with numerous third-party solution suppliers. These business models create inconsistencies within the technology systems or between them. Such a situation leads to outages or system failures, after which IT security teams scramble to address them while minimizing the related costs. If a team fails to notice not-yet exploited digital exposures, a vulnerability can remain hidden and available for the threat actor to launch an attack. BAS tools play a crucial role in providing organizations with an automated, continuous, simple, and effective methodology to validate security control efficacy and assess security posture drift in real-time. With this, the security teams can proactively defend the IT infrastructure from exploits.

Security Control Validation with BAS

BAS safely simulates the actions of an actual attacker while being able to automate the actions with thousands of attack scenarios. Continuous Threat Exposure Management is an emerging best practice approach that combines vulnerability discovery with validation to protect the IT infrastructure against hidden risks. Here, there is a shift towards identifying exposure and prioritizing remediation instead of waiting for an exploit and reacting to an incursion. With Continuous Security Validation (CSV) methods, such as BAS tools, emerging exposure can be spotted consistently and quickly mitigated.

It is imperative for businesses today to stay ahead of cyber adversaries, especially with the rapid evolution of the threat landscape, business operations requirements, and mounting regulatory and compliance pressures. BAS is a much-needed evolution of security assessment mechanisms that offsets the limitations of traditional periodic and resource-intensive human-based testing. With extensive attack simulations, BAS tools safely take a cyber adversary’s position, providing organizations with a proactive, contextualized view of critical security risks.

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