Breach and Attack Simulation vs Penetration Testing

Cyber attacks have evolved dramatically in the past decades. The capabilities, scope, fallout and number of targets of these attacks have greatly increased. This has resulted in damages from cybercrimes reaching all time, worldwide highs which are only set to increase. As a result, organisations are finding it necessary to test their organisation’s cyber security posture on the regular. Elasticito can help you navigate this process to find a solution suitable to your organisation.

MITRE-ATT&CK-APT3+APT29 | Elasticito

MITRE-ATT&CK-APT3+APT29 | Elasticito

A Common Question!

A common question people evaluating cyber security testing options for their organisations ask us is: “how does Breach & Attack Simulation differ from penetration testing”? The simple and shortest answer to this question is that both have their own part to play in making enterprise cyber defences more effective.

Breach & Attack Simulation (BAS) are tools that allow businesses to simulate the full cyberattack cycle against the business’ cyber security infrastructure. BAS provides continuous and consistent testing of the entire network and alerts stakeholders and IT when gaps in the security infrastructure are found.

With the recognition that security breaches are happening more regularly, the emphasis has shifted from a focus on prevention to also include detection, response and automation. By incorporating automation, BAS tools allow you to conduct simulations faster and more efficiently, enabling you to find the gaps in your Cyber Protection, Detection and Response security tooling while mapping this information to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework. BAS tools are a great way to augment your cyber security program, but they do not replace penetration testing.

Penetration testing, or ethical hacking, is the testing of a computer system or network to find security vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit. Penetration testing may often be conducted as a result of external influence, like a compliance requirement or security audit and it may often be a point-in-time exercise and possibly testing a specific application or system. The process involves gathering information about the target before the test, identifying possible entry points, attempting to break in, and reporting back the findings. The reports generated by a penetration test provide the feedback needed for an organisation to prioritise the investments it plans to make in its security.

Indeed, there is sometimes a need to ratify and confirm potential pathways of compromise highlighted by simulating attacks and breach methods and it is not always possible to obtain certain compliance certifications (PCI compliance, for example) without having regular penetration tests conducted.

Findings from these BAS and penetration testing simulations can help guide product investment and configuration decisions to close gaps in your network security. You can also use the information gathered from these simulations to engage in discussions about risk management with your board and senior management. This enables influence over near-term investment decision, long-term security planning and improvement in security operations.

In a recent research note, Gartner had this to say about the difference between Penetration Testing and Breach & Attack Simulation (BAS): “Penetration testing helps answer the question ‘can they get in?’; BAS tools answer the question ‘does my security work?”

For information about the latest and most comprehensive testing solutions available to your business today, contact the Elasticito team. You can also explore this topic in more detail by watching our Webinar here: