5 Ways to Use Continuous Attack Simulations to Validate Your Security Controls

How confident are security teams that their controls will catch attacks when they arise? Ask around, and you might notice a theme: as enterprise security models grow in complexity, teams struggle to validate their security controls, increasing the likelihood of undetected breaches, gaps in protection, and weaknesses from unpatched systems.

These scenarios are indeed worrisome, but there is a way to get ahead of the attackers: by replacing time-consuming, costly, and ad-hoc testing (like penetration testing) with integrated, continuous attack simulations. Breach and Attack simulations (BAS) have key advantages over traditional testing methods such as red teaming or penetration tests. They deliver results faster and easily identify failed controls. When integrated across SIEM, EDR, and multi-cloud environments, they provide greater confidence across your environment while enabling you to anticipate the diverse sequences of steps that attackers take. In short, continuous attack simulations help you beat the attackers at their own game.

Below are the five common security weaknesses that highlight the need for a continuous and integrated approach.

1. Misconfigurations: False positives waste a lot of time and take security teams away from detecting real threats. Often, the end result is that teams ignore or turn off alerts from some sources to their SIEM systems – which means attacks can go unnoticed. Attack simulations can help teams replicate breaches and their impact, supporting proper configuration of technology and improved alert fidelity.

2. Security decay: The technology stack in most security operations is a crowded place these days. If organizations keep adding tools on top of tools – and security teams don’t patch and update them – new and clever malware and exploits could get a foot in the door of unprotected systems. This security decay gets worse when teams add new patches and configurations to network tools, since teams have no idea how those changes will affect the security environment. With continuous attack simulations, teams can diagnose security decay before it causes damage, by constantly testing systems to make sure they’re updated.

3. Overlap: As we noted above, security tech stacks are crowded, and that causes other problems besides decay: duplication and inefficiency. Teams end up spending money and time on tools they don’t need, because they can’t measure the effectiveness of what they already have. Once again, continuous attack simulations can help, validating where coverage is strong and where overlaps happen.

4. Tools that don’t fit your environment: Every security environment is different, and not every security tool on the market works perfectly well in each one. Using attack simulations, the task of vetting tools is much easier: When evaluating tools for proof of concept, you can validate them in your own security environment before signing the invoice.

5. Incident response training: New security team members shouldn’t be learning to respond to threats on the fly – but that’s often what happens. In many cases, they get their first experiences in response and mitigation with live incidents and have to hope their instincts are on point. Far better to run team members through training involving attack simulations, which don’t put live systems at risk. Once teams run drills on threat hunting and mitigation techniques, they’ll be better prepared when the real attackers show up.

If you deploy continuous attack simulations to boost security confidence in your controls, keep this point in mind: However valuable the simulations are, they must be fully integrated with the next step: taking action to eliminate the gaps. Close the loop by integrating attack simulations with security controls and automated playbooks, so you can efficiently and effectively address threats once they’re uncovered.

ReliaQuest GreyMatter includes integrated attack simulations that ensure enterprise security controls will perform as expected when attacks occur. This capability uses persistent and dissolvable agents, certified integrations, and flexible attack simulations with impact ratings to enable cyber assurance across disparate environments, providing continuous, actionable results. It integrates across a wide range of security controls and enables the deployment of automated responses to remediate threats when they are discovered.

Get the white paper to learn more about gaining confidence with continuous attack simulations.