Friday, May 20, 2022

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How Breach and Attack Simulation Can Help Businesses Plug Security Gaps

Cybercrime is projected to cost businesses trillions of dollars in 2021 and this prevalence of cyberthreats has pushed organizations to prioritize cybersecurity. Given their increasing investments, organizations now look to find out whether or not their adopted solutions actually work. This has led to the increasing adoption of breach and attack simulation (BAS) platforms.

BAS allows companies to evaluate their infrastructures’ security and identify the gaps that expose them to the various attack methods used by hackers and advanced persistent threats (APTs). APTs are malicious actors that look to breach infrastructures and stealthily maintain access to networks over a period of time. They use sophisticated tools and malware that are designed to evade conventional security solutions.

Through BAS, companies can test if there are vulnerabilities that need to be immediately addressed. The insights gained from these simulations aid IT leaders in making better and well-informed decisions. As such, companies must seriously consider adopting such tools to help them evaluate their security.

Here are the key ways adopting BAS can help businesses plug the gaps in their security:

Vulnerabilities in the Infrastructure Components

Infrastructure components like hardware and software can have vulnerabilities that make them prone to hacking. For example, companies may be using hardware like older router models that have poor or inadequate security features for their office networks. Unfortunately, such devices can easily be hijacked by hackers and expose the rest of their devices to attacks.

Other organizations may still use old computers that run on operating systems that have reached their end of life. These systems no longer receive official support from their developers. For instance, almost 36% of the market still use Windows 7 despite the fact that it will be reaching its end of life by January 2020. 2.5% still use Windows XP which stopped getting updates way back in 2014. The WannaCry ransomware outbreak was exacerbated by this continued use of older and unpatched Windows versions.

Software applications can also introduce vulnerabilities to infrastructures. There’s no such thing as a bug-free software and these bugs can be exploited by hackers. Just recently, Google disclosed vulnerabilities in its Chrome browser that, if left unpatched through updates, can allow hackers to take control over affected systems.

BAS can be used to identify which endpoints and gateways are affected by these kinds of vulnerabilities. It can simulate attacks across multiple vectors such as malware and exploits to test the defensive perimeter and the protection of each endpoint.

Effectivity of Security Measures

Companies may be investing heavily in security tools, but such investments may be for nothing if they don’t work. However, testing security measures can require higher levels of technical expertise to perform. Obviously, it’s highly impractical and dangerous to actually introduce viruses or malware into live networks just to check if antivirus solutions actually work.

Testing these security measures typically involves performing penetration tests and forming red teams to try and breach defenses using similar tools and methods used by attackers. These capabilities are commonly beyond the skill sets of most IT teams. Fortunately, BAS enables even those without high-level hacking skills to evaluate the state of their defenses. BAS tools can automatically run various simulated scenarios to quickly identify the security gaps that make infrastructures vulnerable to attacks and other exploits.

IT teams typically only need to install a client on an endpoint within the network to enable BAS. This allows the BAS platform to run simulation scripts that evaluate the detection, prevention, and mitigation capabilities of the implemented security solutions such as firewalls, antiviruses, email filters, and access controls across the network.

Weaknesses in the Human Element

One key factor that some tests and security measures fail to address is the human element. Sadly, human fallibility accounts for the majority of security incidents in organizations. 90% of corporate data breaches were due to users falling victim to social engineering attacks.

BAS platforms are able to test how organizations and their members react to social engineering attacks such as phishing. BAS can simulate phishing attacks by sending cleverly disguised emails to actual users. These tests can check if anyone will be tricked into opening such messages or downloading dummy malware. BAS can readily identify and track which specific users fall victim to these simulated attacks.

This way, organizations can easily provide remediation activities such as training programs that educate end users in distinguishing phishing messages and knowing the courses of action they can take.

Building a Robust Security Perimeter

Falling victim to cyberattacks can have devastating consequences which can include downtime, lost business, and damage to brand and reputation. BAS tools are a welcome addition to an organization’s cybersecurity as their automated tests can help quickly identify vulnerabilities in the network and assess security solutions. These capabilities provide insights that aid companies to make necessary changes and proper investments and provide better training in order to keep their infrastructures and networks secure. Adopting BAS technologies enables companies to implement the most effective strategies and security solutions.

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