Glossary Glossary

Breach and Attack Simulation

A breach and attack simulation (BAS) is a proactive cybersecurity approach that allows organizations to assess their security posture by simulating real-world cyber attacks. This advanced testing method mimics the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and attack vectors real attackers may use on their systems.

As such, BAS complements the attack surface management (ASM) process. ASM automatically identifies all assets and scans them for vulnerabilities, while BAS executes real-life exploits against weaknesses to check how an organization’s security systems will respond.

Table of Contents

Breach and Attack Simulation: A Deep Dive

How Does a Breach and Attack Simulation Work?

Executing a BAS program requires high technical and cybersecurity expertise. Cybersecurity professionals must first create a detailed plan or a baseline security model, identify vulnerabilities, and then utilize automated tools to continually simulate an attack’s entire life cycle against an organization’s infrastructure, including reconnaissance, exploitation, installation, and command-and-control (C&C) communications.

Throughout the BAS exercise, the tools monitor an organization’s security controls to gain insights into its overall security posture and check how security systems like those below behave and respond to the simulation.

  • Antivirus and antimalware
  • Data leakage prevention (DLP) solutions
  • Email gateways
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions
  • Intrusion detection systems (IDSs)
  • Intrusion prevention systems (IPSs)
  • Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs)
  • Security information and event management (SIEM) solutions

BAS programs intend to automate the techniques that red and blue teams use. The red team takes on the role of malicious attackers, while the blue team tries to prevent the attacks. While these human-led processes are effective, they are manual and time-consuming and can, therefore, only be performed periodically.

How Does Breach and Attack Simulation Compare with ASM?

BAS and ASM align in terms of primary goal—to help organizations assess their security posture and identify vulnerabilities before real threat actors can exploit them.

Both processes help improve an organization’s security posture, reduce its attack surface,  and comply with regulatory requirements. However, while BAS and ASM complement each other, they differ in these areas:

  • Focus: ASM scopes an organization’s entire digital perimeter to identify and monitor assets for vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, BAS focuses on testing the different security gaps and measures intended to protect the perimeter.
  • Resource utilization: BAS requires manual design and inputs from IT and cybersecurity experts before the automated process can be rolled out. On the other hand, ASM platforms can automatically begin scanning an organization’s IT systems for new assets and vulnerabilities after minimal configuration.

A company may use ASM to scope its digital perimeter, understand the threats surrounding it, and identify weaknesses and security gaps. Once that is laid out, it may implement BAS to test the security of its digital perimeter and try to infiltrate its IT systems.

A BAS allows organizations to evaluate their security readiness by emulating genuine cyber threats. ASM and BAS help improve an organization’s overall security posture, comply with regulatory requirements, and reduce its attack surface. However, they also have a distinct focus and resource requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • A breach and attack simulation imitates real-world cyber attacks to evaluate an organization’s security posture.
  • BAS requires a high level of technical and cybersecurity expertise as well as meticulous planning before automated testing can start.
  • BAS focuses on testing an organization’s security measures, while ASM’s scope includes identifying, scanning, and monitoring assets and vulnerabilities.
  • Both BAS and ASM enable organizations to enjoy improved security posture, reduced attack surface, and increased regulatory compliance.

If you want to identify all vulnerabilities before conducting a breach and attack simulation, schedule a free demo tailored to your organization now.

Interested to Learn More?