As you might know, nowadays cyberattacks are rising. The situation is so serious that World Economic Forum named cyberattacks among the top three risks to global stability in its Global Risks Report. That’s why BAS is growing so rapidly these days. Wondering what is BAS? It’s an abbreviation for “Breach and Attack Simulation”, a new domain which was introduced by Gartner.

In addition, cyber criminals are constantly discovering and developing new ways of compromising the security of companies and trying to sabotage their critical data. It’s not everything; “the financial effect of cyber security violations is on the rise … Common examples included the WannaCry attack — which infected 300,000 devices across 150 nations — and NotPetya, which resulted in quarterly losses of US$ 300 million for a variety of infected companies,” according to the World Economic Forum.

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is not flawless, however. If you’re a company owner or a security expert, you need to grasp the basics to make the most of this new technology. In general, there are three methods used in Breach and Attack Simulation — all with their very own collection of strengths, benefits, and drawbacks. In this article, you will read about the fundamentals of Breach and Attack Simulation, its strategies and its advantages and disadvantages.

So what is the Breach and Attack Simulation?

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is a collection of techniques and tools that “allow businesses to continuously and reliably replicate the complete cycle of attacks (including internal attacks, lateral movements and data decryption) towards organizational systems, using software agents, virtual machines and other methods,” as per Gartner. That is, BAS is a modern collection of tools to help you check and verify the organization’s security infrastructure.

Common software protection solutions include attack detection and protection mechanisms, manual or automated penetration checks, and vulnerabilities scanners. Such methods — together — help spot and avoid attacks, and also security flaws testing. But, Breach and Attack Simulation offers one significant benefit over these conventional technologies: BAS-based methods constantly and reliably replicate and check attacks.

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That is why Breach and Attack Simulation technologies are storming the market. “The International Automated Breach and Attack Simulation market amounted to $93.94 million in 2018 and is projected to rise to $1,683.07 million by 2027 at a  Compound Annual Growth Rate of 37.8% over the forecast period. Some variables, such as the need to prioritize technology investments and the difficulty of handling weaknesses from different sources, are driving the market, “as per Business Wire.

3 Methods in use by BAS Solutions

As you have taken the time to read the fundamentals of Breach and Attack Simulation, let’s consider the 3 methods used by these solutions. You must hear about their basic characteristics and their advantages and disadvantages.

1] Agent-based Vulnerability Scanning Solutions

A range of companies used vulnerabilities scanner solutions and developed them to suit the Breach and Attack Simulation functionality. They turn these scanners into agent-based solutions that handle internal network security. Such agents are distributed within a company’s networks as well as on physical or virtual computers or servers based on a shared vulnerability database.

Such agents search networks for thousands of bugs, recognize systems with potential problems, and map possible ways of attack. Though, the primary focus of these methods is on the alleged abuse of the company’s networks. They do not exploit and/or check security vulnerabilities or monitor the security zone, making them barely stronger than the old vulnerability scanning approaches.

2] Malicious Traffic-based Monitoring Solutions

The second method taken by security providers triggers suspicious traffic within a company’s network. This method is consistent with the typical attack vendor of malicious traffic entering at the endpoint of the program. In such attack cases, standard security strategies track incoming traffic, identify malicious network packets, and then block, filter, or blacklist them.

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The plan is to set up different virtual machines within the company’s network, make them test targets, and then channel the malicious traffic to them. BAS tools are designed to evaluate the performance and efficiency of existing security tools such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Web Application Firewall (WAF), and so on.

BAS solutions

The advantage is that the company’s in-house or production equipment and servers work as normal when analysis is preformed using BAS. Eventually, security incidents are communicated to the security department, offering an analysis of the protection provided by the security solutions deployed. For an added advantage, the BAS tools also recommend configuration improvements and security-enhancing guidelines.

3] Blackbox Multi-vector Testing Solutions

The third solution adopted by several security firms is an all-round, most effective approach under Breach and Attack Simulation. This strategy combines and replicates multi-vector attacks on the company’s network and its defense perimeter, making it an all-round method. This method tests a company’s security infrastructure as practical as cyber attackers. Interestingly, most of these solutions operate from the cloud and stop using any specific hardware setup like virtual machines, unlike the other two methods.

With this approach, the BAS solutions mount their agent on the systems in the company. Such agents link to the platform, run experiments, gather data, and update the database. Such experiments simulate multi-vector attacks utilizing different types of payloads and vulnerabilities, making them similar to cyber-crime attacks. Because they differ in detail, they cover much of the ground when evaluating the firm’s security infrastructure. Therefore, their reports address much of the possible security weaknesses found in the security role of the company — the network as well as the perimeter.

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Such BAS solutions incorporate various methods with several ways to simulate attacks, validating specific levels of security and configurations. Often, their findings recommend likely hints and tips, including configuration updates and software improvements to upgrade security with installed solutions. Finally, if they are effective in penetrating your company’s security network, it is more likely that cyber criminals will also be capable of launching a successful attack on your company. Even if they can’t, protection is pretty good.

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