Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) technology: The key to continuous cyber security

Cyber security in any industry sector with a reliance on digital is absolutely crucial. These businesses should implement technology that will help them validate their security controls on a continuous basis, says Patrick Evans CEO of SLVA Cybersecurity.

How well do your current cybersecurity detection and prevention technologies work?  Would knowing help you sleep better at night?

Cybercrime and cyber threats remain one of the biggest challenges facing digitally transforming companies. For those businesses that are digital-forward – banks, insurance firms, IT service providers, retail, and healthcare enterprises – it should come as no surprise that they are regularly targeted by cyber attackers seeking maximum monetary rewards.

For those security leaders, the simple answer to the question of how to deal with such threats, is for them to start thinking like an attacker, and to focus on the threats that matter most to their specific organisation.

Key to the effectiveness of your company’s security controls is to validate these on a continuous basis. This approach, in turn, can benefit from advanced technologies that assist in providing greater value, delivering improved performance, and offering stronger compliance.

A perfect example is that of Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) technology, which allows you to automatically and continuously simulate complex cyberattacks. This allows you to test the effectiveness of your security prevention and detection controls.

In other words, BAS platforms are perfect for helping you ensure that the security tools you have spent so much time and money to implement, are actually working as they should. What BAS does is it identifies, assesses, and rapidly remediates gaps in the coverage provided by your security controls – before attackers can exploit them.

Security Control Validation

When talking BAS, its primary use case is called Security Control Validation

(SCV). BAS platforms that specialise in SCV allow users to measure and benchmark the effectiveness of prevention and detection controls. These might include firewalls, email gateways, intrusion prevention systems, security information and event management (SIEM) tools, extended detection and response (EDR) solutions, and others.

SCV validates whether these controls are blocking and alerting on attacks. It also analyses event logs generated by your controls, thus providing granular details, and can also offer recommendations to assist you in addressing weaknesses or failures.

Utilising a BAS platform with SCV will help your business to accomplish three important goals:

  • Assurance: BAS tools simulate threats to test and validate the effectiveness of established security controls. Data, insights, and reporting empower you to answer tough questions from the board about security posture and resilience.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): BAS platforms help you gain the greatest return on security control investments, through continuous performance validation and issue mitigation, ensuring all tools work as they should.
  • Compliance: Leading BAS solutions can also assist with compliance with regulations and standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Protection of Personal Information ACT (POPIA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), by providing metrics that can be shared with auditors.

In the past, security teams used a range of methods to simulate attacks and identify weaknesses in their security defences. Each method has drawbacks, many of which BAS addresses.

Vulnerability scanning inspects existing systems and applies intelligence about known vulnerabilities to uncover gaps that may exist. However, the focus on finding vulnerabilities means these tools may fail to spot situations where controls are underperforming.

Penetration Testing can be useful, but as it is a point-in-time assessment, it can quickly become outdated and may give a false sense of security. Another downside is its manual approach, which involves significant time commitments, scheduling complexities, and potential system downtime. It can also be prone to human error.

The third method is Red Teaming, where a ‘red team’ of security professionals acts as adversaries in an attempt to overcome cybersecurity controls. Red teamers use their skills and expertise in attack methodologies to achieve a particular objective, such as data exfiltration. Unfortunately, this is also a manual process that takes a long time to perform and is subject to human error.

BAS is best

Unlike the above methods, BAS platforms provide greater speed, scope, and uniformity, coupled with fewer resource demands and less risk of error.

BAS instead conducts automated, consistent, and continuous (24/7) attack simulations, thereby helping to validate security control effectiveness, generate quantifiable metrics for analysis and reporting, and deliver insights to aid mitigation of threat coverage and visibility gaps.

As the pioneer of BAS technology, Picus Security – one of SLVA Cybersecurity’s key partners – offers a cloud-native, software-as-a-service (SaaS) SCV solution that helps measure and strengthen cyber resilience, by automatically and continuously testing the effectiveness of your network security controls.

The Picus platform provides a real-time snapshot of a company’s security posture and generates alerts when security scores fall below a predefined threshold. It offers comprehensive visibility into cybersecurity threats and risks across networks and endpoints, all from a convenient, centralised dashboard. It alone produces actionable vendor-specific mitigation recommendations to help your team to address these gaps swiftly and effectively. For example, a Palo Alto firewall user will get Palo Alto specific remediation recommendations.

It is worth noting that, when it comes to the potential damage a cyberattack can cause within those organisations reliant on digital technologies, this extends beyond monetary losses and data theft. It also encompasses, potentially, reputational damage, the value of the business to stakeholders, and the erosion of trust in its integrity. Clearly, the stakes could not be higher.

This is why it is imperative organisations implement BAS as a means to ensure continuous, automated threat simulation, control testing, and validation of effectiveness.

Not only will this platform assist digital-forward organisations gain greater confidence that their existing defences and protections are strong enough, but it will also help them to significantly improve oversight, risk identification, decision making and future planning. The end result of which will be that your business will increase its cyber resilience while reducing its overall business risk.


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