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How can an excellent offensive cyber security strategy help protect businesses against those looking to slip through the cracks of a network defences?

Offensive security operations consist of red-team simulations, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing. Offensive security operations are undertaken by trustworthy, professional and knowledgeable teams of ethical ‘white hat’ hackers with the desire to attack to defend. Let’s look at the differences between each service and explore how they can help businesses stay one step ahead of malicious actors. How can an excellent offensive security strategy help protect businesses against those looking to slip through the cracks of a network defences?

Assessments are the foundation of Offensive Security
Although a risk assessment is technically not an offensive security strategy, a vulnerability assessment is the foundation to any red-team exercise or penetration test. A typical assessment identifies flaws and categorizes them by severity based on the criticality of the asset and other factors. It then provides advanced analysis to help security leaders decide whether to apply additional controls to reduce the risk of a threat actor exploiting the vulnerability or create a new exception based on a business need.

Incident Response with Red-Team Exercises
A red team is a group of ethical hackers that businesses can hire to simulate a cyberattack, such as an advanced persistent threat (APT), a state-sponsored attack or a large-scale malware campaign. These teams can help responders strengthen their cyber skills, which will help them in the event of a real breach. These simulated attacks enable security leaders to stress-test their incident response strategy, identify gaps and adjust accordingly.

The Value of Red on Blue Cyber Training
It’s important to comprehend the goal you hope to attain, when considering investing in red-team services. A cyberattack simulation may not be the most effective solution, if you need an in-depth analysis of the vulnerabilities in your environment. A red team’s primary objective is to help responders develop the skills and composure to react when the heat is on and the stakes are high, as well as challenge a business’s defences.

Penetration Testing equals Proactive Security
The goal of penetration testing is to assess the security of a limited set of assets during a specific period under certain conditions. Security teams can identify and remediate flaws in their infrastructure before threat actors have a chance to expose them through proactively trying to breach their own network defences. This exercise is a great way to discover vulnerabilities and maintain compliance with security policies and data-privacy regulations. But it doesn’t deliver contextualised information about the business’s overall security posture. Also, its limitation in scope and time distorts the results concerning the infrastructure at large.

Staying One Step Ahead of the Bad Guys
In today’s ever-evolving threat environment, offensive security is critical for helping businesses sniff out cracks in their defences before the bad guys do. Whichever strategy best suits a business needs, it must be deployed proactively and regularly reviewed for continuous improvement. By engaging in these activities, security team can strengthen their cyberthreat monitoring, detection and response capabilities and generate more contextualised metrics to present to stakeholders. 

Visit cyber.qa.com for more information on how QA can help solve the Cyber Security skills gap.

Written by James Aguilan, Cyber Security Trainer 

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