When it comes to cybersecurity, there are many things you can’t control. They include:
- Predicting new savvy methods hackers will use to attack your systems
- Availability of online malicious codes and programs that anyone can use them
As with anything, it’s important to focus on what we can control. In cybersecurity, this means:
- Setting security controls that safeguard your organization — including anti-virus programs, firewalls, protocols, etc.
- Continually testing your network for possible vulnerabilities to discover flaws early
Following the surge of cyberattacks amid a transfer to remote work in 2020, businesses have learned that investing in security controls is a non-negotiable for their companies. The alternative carries costly consequences, both financial and in terms of reputation.
In 2021, the number of cyber breaches more than doubled — alerting companies that having security controls in place is just not enough.
To be on top of things all the time, businesses now regularly test their security with Breach and Attack Simulation.
What is Breach and Attack Simulation all about, and how does it compare to other types of testing in cybersecurity?
What is Breach and Attack Simulation?
Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) mimics cyberattacks to test whether your network could be breached in different scenarios. It tests your cybersecurity wall to determine if the security controls you have work.
Without testing, there’s no telling where the next flaw or vulnerability within your system might be. Also, you can’t know whether someone who shouldn’t have access to your network already managed to breach your system.
How Does Breach and Attack System Work?
BAS scans your network for possible vulnerabilities, simulates the attack on your systems, and collects the data concerning the simulated attack.
Testing can be automatic if the BAS is set to attack with specific techniques. For example, they might be set to test email or web filters.
Data that is collected during continuous attacks can be compared. This helps IT teams to spot flaws in the systems and find appropriate solutions.
Depending on the flaw, they determine if the flaw is high risk. In case of more than one detected vulnerability, your team decides as to the order of which they’ll tackle these issues — ranging from the most pressing to less concerning problems.
To continually strengthen security, these steps (scanning, testing, documentation analysis) are continually repeated.
What Is Being Tested With BAS, Exactly?
BAS tests the security you have (including the technology you use and people who use them) against the most well-known and the latest methods hackers have used to conduct cyberattacks.
Some common and well-known methods hackers use to breach networks include phishing, password attack, and malware.
These methods still work, especially if the attacked businesses lack basic employee training on cybersecurity or IT teams that manage complex security controls, but don’t use them properly.
Hackers continually find new ways to exploit flaws in your system and design techniques to bypass cybersecurity systems. Therefore, it’s important to test against the latest threats as well.
MITRE ATTACK Framework, a growing library of the latest techniques cyber criminals have used to breach networks, can be used here to test the readiness of your systems against the latest threats.
How Does BAS Compare to Other Tests?
Besides Breach and Attack Simulation, cybersecurity can be tested with Penetration testing (Pen testing).
Penetration testing is point-in-time testing. To complete this type of analysis, you have to hire external cybersecurity experts to perform simulated attacks on your network every six or 12 months.
Considering the high cost of hiring the experts for pen testing, organizations use it just once or twice a year — leaving your network possibly exposed to hackers between testing.
Compared to pen testing, Breach and Attack Simulation is less costly and more up-to-date with the latest cyber threats. It can automatically test the network in real-time, giving you the peace of mind that systems you have in place work correctly.
What’s more, BAS doesn’t require employing top cybersecurity experts. On the other hand, even the newest member of your IT team that isn’t specialized in pen testing can use BAS to find vulnerabilities that need fixing within your system.
Checking Your Systems for Vulnerabilities Is a Necessity
Testing your network and systems against the latest hacking breaches is a vital part of cybersecurity.
Within your systems, everything and anything can change in a few hours, sometimes even minutes. Employees are constantly logging in and out of your systems. The technology you use to adapt to remote work is regularly updated.
Any of these changes can create pathways which hackers can use to exploit and get into your systems.
Cybersecurity is always evolving to fight against the latest threats. There will never be a perfect system that defends you against any threat imaginable. The best thing you can do is to have layered security points in place and regularly check if they work.