Data security and cybersecurity have often been treated as two fields separate from one another.
In reality, they are the two sides of the same coin.
Both have a major role in protecting information that’s circling within an organization.
Cybersecurity is focused on improving the systems, protocols, and tools that guard the company (and information) against hacking exploits.
Data security is more about safe storage and prevention of compromised access that might lead to a breach or altered and misused data within the network.
With 125 million cases of reported data breaches in 2020, organizations have learned the hard way that they have to up their cybersecurity to prevent stolen and leaked information.
In 2022, after two years of investing heavily in security, the number of recorded data breaches has gone down by 56%.
With all the security tools that exist on the market, how have companies built up their security that works for their specific needs?
The truth is that the secret lies in trial and error.
Or skipping the error altogether and investing in specialized tools for regular testing and assessment such as Breach and Attack Simulation.
What Is Breach and Attack Simulation?
Breach and Attack (BAS) is a security tool that continually launches simulated attacks. Its goal is to uncover vulnerabilities that might lead cybercriminals straight into an organization.
The software utilizes artificial intelligence to test people, security tools, and systems against common and new attack vectors.
Therefore, the tool is automated and can be configured to test chosen attack vectors 27/7.
How Does the BAS Tool Work?
Breach and Attack Simulation aids IT teams to improve security by testing the infrastructure in several steps that include:
- Simulating attacks on chosen vectors
- Analysis of the data following an attack
- Presenting key data on the dashboard for IT teams
When simulating attacks, BAS determines whether the security points of the company could hold their own against real hackers.
During the analysis stage, the tool compares the attack surface with its previous state. Also, it assesses whether the current security would be successful in defending the infrastructure from exploits.
The results of the testing and evaluation are presented on dashboards that give analysts a comprehensive overview of security.
The report is risk-based, which means that it aids IT teams to remedy vulnerabilities by prioritizing high-risk flaws within the network.
After teams patch up weaknesses in the system based on the findings, all steps are repeated to assess the strength of security and find the space for improvement.
What Exactly Does It Test?
Simulated attacks are targeted at versatile attack vectors within the company to mimic the methods a hacker might use to breach the system.
Every company has a unique infrastructure, security, and needs. Depending on the organization, the BAS tool is calibrated differently for testing.
Common attack vectors include:
- Phishing emails
- Misconfigured tools
Social engineering techniques such as phishing are common, which is why most companies invest in basic cybersecurity training for their employees. Awareness can help prevent attacks and scams that are targeting less tech-savvy teams in the company.
BAS can continually run in the background to test whether your employees might click on a malware-infected link or attachment in their emails.
With increasingly complex infrastructures, errors in environments such as the cloud are quite common. BAS tests whether they pose an immediate threat to the company.
The system has to be tested against well-known and new exploits. To prevent zero-day exploits, the tool is regularly updated with the latest findings on the MITRE ATT&CK Framework.
MITRE is a digital library that depicts numerous exploits and the latest hacking methods that have previously compromised other businesses.
Strengthening Security After Testing
Simulated attacks are running continually in the background and testing the surface to isolate high risks that could lead to a data breach of a company.
IT teams use the data on the dashboard to make informed decisions in their next steps.
Once they’re presented with severe risks and flaws that have been registered within the system, they have to patch up flaws that have the potential to escalate into incidents.
Strong and updated security protects the most valuable assets of the company — including information within the system.
Layered Cybersecurity Guards Data
As mentioned, companies have a plethora of cybersecurity tools to choose from. They’ve been adding more and more to protect the range of software they use for work as well as endpoint devices of their remote workers.
An overwhelming number of security solutions has created complex systems that can be difficult to manage.
Breach and Attack Simulation guides understaffed and overworked teams towards improving security and strengthening it in the weakest places.
Detailed analytics and forensic reports highlight the high-risk issues. Instead of being bombarded with alerts all the time, IT teams get a summary of open weaknesses and suggestions on how to patch critical flaws.
Essentially, BAS creates a map of the most vulnerable points that need patching up as soon as possible to keep hackers from the information within systems.
It utilizes the power of AI to compare and test security postures and leaves parts of the management to automation.
Protecting Data in an Ever-Changing Attack Surface
An attack surface (a complete software environment that has possible points that could be targeted by threat actors) can change in minutes.
With every new hacking method that is out there in combination with regular software updates and configurations, the attack surface shifts.
Such changes might leave the system vulnerable to hacking exploits and lead to compromised access or successful phishing attacks that enable cybercriminals to obtain sensitive information.
Therefore, BAS has an integral role in tracking these frequent changes that might compromise data within the system.
The tool aids companies to be one step ahead of hackers everywhere.