There are a variety of methods that an organization can implement to test its ability to withstand a cyberattack or another type of catastrophic situation. One such technique is to conduct a crisis simulation. The term crisis simulation is somewhat generic and seems awfully similar to other types of exercises organizations run to test their level of preparedness.
So, for those not fully conversant in cybersecurity lingo, determining the difference between a crisis simulation, a table top exercise, a penetration test (pentest), and a Red Team exercise can be difficult.
While each of these tasks is designed to discover how well or poorly an organization reacts to different types of stresses, each is also quite different by design with a specific set of goals.
A Crisis Simulation Exercise
A cybersecurity crisis scenario simulation can be invaluable to pressure test both the assembled teams and the organization's documented processes designed for such circumstances. In addition, crisis simulations are strastegic in scope compared to a tabletop exercise, which is more tactical in nature and focuses on the operational level of managing a security event within an organization.
A security firm should design a crisis simulation to offer a client a holistic view of all the cybersecurity challenges an organization faces and help train and educate the senior stakeholders and decision-makers on the important role they play when their organization is involved in a crisis.
A crisis simulation should create a real-world, hands-on environment to immerse in realistic, simulated scenarios to prepare and train you and your staff for the challenges of day-to-day cybersecurity. These scenarios are usually centered on topics such as phishing attacks, IT operations and system outages, data breaches, public relations and reputational situations, and ransomware attacks.
A simulation will often include workshops that are brought to life using interactive injects, briefings, and videos, all designed to simulate a real-life crisis. These workshops have to be created for the industry or client and to help bring the exercise to life, Trustwave uses its rich library of attack scenarios that are updated and based on the latest cyber threat intelligence, including both single and multi-vector attacks.
In the end, a crisis simulation will:
- Determine the effectiveness of an organization's incident response capabilities
- Determine the effectiveness of existing practices
- Identify areas for potential refinement or improvement
- Update documentation and process based on lessons learned.
Table Top vs a Crisis Simulation
Tabletop exercises are more tactical in nature focusing on the operational level of managing a security event within an organization usually handled but your Incident Response teams.
The Simulation Workshops are designed to offer a holistic view of all the cyber security challenges organisations face, and to help train and educate the senior stakeholders and decision makers on the important role they have within the organisation's cyber resilience.
Unlike traditional exercises which focus on theoretical concepts, simulation workshops offer a real-world, hands- on environment to immerse in realistic, simulated scenarios to prepare and train you and your staff for the challenges of day-to-day cyber security.
The Crisis Simulation workshops are:
Client Focused - Simulated scenarios that can be tailored for industry or organizational cyber security challenges.
A Real Simulation - Workshops are bought to life with a series of interactive injects, briefings and videos.
Attack Scenarios - We have a rich library of attack scenarios that are updated regularly based on the latest cyber threat intelligence, including both single and multi-vector attacks.
Fully Customizable - Trustwave can provide a fully customized service to meet the exact needs of a client.
Breaking Down a Penetration Test
A penetration test also referred to as a pentest or ethical hacking, is a simulated attack executed on your computer systems or on-premises security posture to hunt for and uncover vulnerabilities. These simulated attack methods can help identify weak spots in your security posture before your adversaries do.
A pentest does share some similarities with a Red Team exercise. Each attempt to discover vulnerabilities, but where a Red Team implements a full-blown sneak attack to test a defender's response capabilities, pentesters rummage through a network to see what they can find. These testers are "noisy," making no attempt to hide from the targeted organization, and a security team is not countering their work.
While there is a role for automation in some testing processes, penetration tests are best conducted by a human team to take advantage of their creativity, outside-the-box mindset that focuses on identifying clues and creating hypotheses to test. In addition, penetration testing demonstrates how exploiting a vulnerability is possible.
In the end, the penetration test team compiles a report that details priority recommendations while also considering specific business contexts and risks.
Quick Reference Guide: Penetration Testing
This guide will arm you with a down-to-earth explanation of the key strategies, from infrastructure testing to bug bounties, across vulnerability scanning through to red teaming. It will also help you plan for effective security testing so that you can gain the most from your testing investments.
Defining a Red Team Engagement
Red Team engagements are attacks conducted by an outside security firm playing the role of an enemy. Sometimes a Red Team is put together using an organization's internal security staffers, but this is an outlier.
Still, in each case, their goal is to give the in-house IT staff, known as Blue Team, a chance to identify and react to realistic cyberattack scenarios.
Red Team attacks are not a pleasant experience. The attackers do their best to use the latest real-world tactics and tools to rip into an organization in an all-out attack and present the security staff with their CISO's worst-case scenario – a total disaster that endangers the entire company and its assets.
The primary focus is to find flaws in the people, processes, and technology the target organization has in place. This activity mimics what cyber gangs like REvil, DarkSide, or a nation-state-sponsored attacker would do during an attack.
The client's in-house security personnel, or the Blue Team, acts as the defender. The Blue Team makes its stand in the organization's Security Operations Center (SOC).
The expectation is for the Blues to detect, fight and defeat the Reds. The goal of the mock attack is to enhance the Blue Team player's skills by exposing them to a real-world attack.