Every business, regardless of size or industry, is at risk of a data breach. And businesses that suffer from a data breach often pay dearly — IBM and the Ponemon Institute's 2022 Cost of Data Breach report found that the global average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million. That's a lot of money to lose on data breaches, and the costs are only going to continue to rise as our world becomes increasingly digitized.
As a business owner, you've probably taken steps to ensure that the security controls you have in place are doing their job. You can take things further in protecting your business by performing regular breach and attack simulations (BAS).
Defining breach and attack simulation
A breach and attack simulation is a critical tool in protecting businesses from data breaches. A BAS program typically deploys attack models and scenarios to test and measure the effectiveness of the organization’s security controls. To be effective, it should be able to accurately replicate the environment in which an attacker would attempt to infiltrate, allowing organizations to quickly identify potential vulnerabilities.
For instance, a BAS may include tests such as malware simulations and external network penetration testing, as well as simulated attacks on privileged accounts and application-level exploitation. A BAS may also involve assessing your company's physical security measures like CCTV systems, access control, intrusion detection systems, and other physical measures. Ultimately, these tests are conducted to gauge how good of a job your organization’s security controls are doing in protecting your critical assets from malicious actors.
To put it simply, a BAS helps organizations understand their risk profile more accurately by testing their security controls so that they can identify any weaknesses or vulnerabilities that threat actors could exploit. Organizations can then gather data during the simulation and gain insights into both the technical and non-technical aspects of their cybersecurity posture.
Technical aspects pertain to things like application security controls such as input validation procedures, authentication mechanisms (including multifactor authentication), and roles and privileges management solutions. On the other hand, nontechnical aspects should include measures like employee training on cyberthreats and best practices for mitigating cyber risks.
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Tips for businesses deploying a breach and attack simulation
If you've decided to deploy a breach and attack simulation, you must ensure that all necessary components are in place and configured correctly. Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting up a BAS program:
- Consider the environment in which you operate and tailor your BAS testing accordingly. Cybercriminals are constantly developing and testing new tactics and technologies, so remain vigilant by regularly updating your BAS tests to reflect the most current threats. If you belong to a regulated industry, take into consideration any specific industry regulations or guidelines for data security. Compliance with these requirements can help protect against potential data breaches and costly fines resulting from noncompliance.
- Look for a cybersecurity services provider who has extensive experience and expertise in breach and attack simulations. The provider should have an understanding of both offensive security techniques and defensive security technologies like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, malware protection systems, etc. so they can accurately assess your business's security posture. The provider should also be able to recommend solutions based on the results of the simulations, such as new configurations or implementations of additional technologies to strengthen security controls.
- Ensure you have personnel on hand who have the skill set and resources to conduct thorough investigations following a successful BAS test run. These personnel should be capable of conducting forensic analysis of log files and deploying incident response plans immediately, if needed. If you don't have such personnel, consider enlisting third-party experts who specialize in responding to cyber incidents who can provide additional insights and guidance after an incident has occurred.
- Regularly review your BAS results so that any changes based on findings made during the testing process are consistently monitored for effectiveness. It also pays to create a culture of cybersecurity awareness among all employees by providing training on recognizing suspicious activity or responding appropriately in case of a potential breach.
By taking these steps, you can be better prepared against cyberthreats while making sure your defenses are up to date at all times with continued improvements being made along the way.
Overall, a comprehensive breach and attack simulation program not only tests the vulnerability of existing security controls but also helps determine whether additional investments need to be made in order to strengthen them further. Moreover, by assessing the entire infrastructure holistically through regular simulations with updated attack models/scenarios, you can make sure you can detect threats early on before they cause significant damage or disruption.
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