A proactive and systematic approach

What is an adversary simulation?

What happens when companies have mature security controls in place? How do they measure their effectiveness? For example, if blue teams (those in charge of Event Monitoring and Incident Response) do not regularly practice their skills for detection and response, their effectiveness in handling a real breach can significantly decrease. In that sense, an offensive mentality is needed to maintain effective defence capabilities.

An adversary simulation service is a proactive and systematic approach to evaluating the effectiveness of a company's security defences. It involves mimicking the tactics, techniques, procedures, and behaviors (TTPs) of potential attackers to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the organization while also evaluating their ability to detect and respond to the TTPs executed.

During an adversary simulation, our team of expert consultants (the red team), emulates the TTPs that are usually employed by real-world attackers. They use a variety of tools and methodologies to test the organization's defences, attempting to gain unauthorized access or compromise sensitive information. By using this approach, Castellan can identify vulnerabilities that might otherwise go unnoticed. Our experts will provide recommendations at the end of the engagement to strengthen the organization's security posture, improve incident response capabilities, and enhance overall resiliency.

It's important to note that adversary simulation services are typically conducted with the full knowledge and consent of the client being tested.

Benefits of adversary simulation

  1. Enhance Incident Response: The main goal is to uncover security gaps and enhance the client's overall security posture by launching the same tactics, techniques and procedures advanced attackers utilize and that can be difficult to detect.

  1. Assess Current Controls: The company will be able to validate the effectiveness of the current security controls/solutions in place.

  1. Vulnerability Identification: Adversary simulation services help identify vulnerabilities and flaws that may have been overlooked during routine security assessments (penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, or any other).

  1. Realistic Testing: By emulating the behavior of attackers, organizations can better understand what their weaknesses are in real-world scenarios.

  1. Awareness and Training: This service offers an opportunity for security analysts (blue team/SOC team) to develop and enhance their monitoring and response skills. Through these exercises, security analysts gain a better understanding of real attack vectors, learn best practices for detecting and responding to threats, and apply this knowledge in their day-to-day activities. This service also helps raise awareness among stakeholders about the potential risks the organization faces.

There are 2 types of adversary simulations:

  1. Red Team Assessment

In a Red Team exercise, our security experts use real-world cyber attack tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to try to break the company's blue team defences. Most of the time, our consultants are unaware of the client's security controls. The goal is to circumvent those in-place defence mechanisms, targeting to infiltrate the network and simulate a data exfiltration without being noticed by the client's blue team. In some cases, the blue team does not know the exercise is being performed either. This service is best used in cases where the company has mature incident detection and response capabilities.

  1. Purple Team Assessment

The purple team exercise is called that way as purple is the combination of blue and red. A Purple Team assessment focuses on collaboration between Castellan's red team and the client's blue team. Our professionals work closely with the blue team to simulate, detect, and respond to attacks in a controlled environment. During the exercise, tactics, techniques, and procedures are shared with the organization's blue team. The blue team then leverages this information to fine-tune their detection and response capabilities. You might want to choose a purple Team assessment if you want to train the Blue Team via collaboration and lessons learned with Castellan's Red Team. The service focuses more on detection capabilities than on response capabilities.

What value can Castellan bring to your organization?

  1. Expertise: Our team consists of highly skilled and certified security professionals with extensive experience in executing and managing adversary simulations. Their deep knowledge of cyber attack tactics/techniques (attack frameworks) and diverse skills ensure a thorough understanding of real attack scenarios and enable us to provide the best recommendations to improve detection and response capabilities.

  2. Specialized Tools and Frameworks: Our consultants use a combination of proprietary and industry-leading attacking tools and frameworks such as ATT&CK and Cyber Kill Chain. These solutions, managed and operated by specialists with an in-depth knowledge of vulnerabilities, enable us to evaluate your security posture accurately.

  3. Manual Tests: We do not rely solely on automated tools. Certain attack scenarios can only be executed by manual means. Castellan's team performs manual attacks when needed to provide a more realistic exercise.

  4. Easy to Digest Reports: We do not deliver reports autogenerated by tools. Once the adversary simulation exercise is finished, a human-created report will be generated by Castellan's security experts. The report will contain a GAP Analysis and the results. The report will contain three sections: an executive summary, a technical section containing detailed results and a section for listing lessons learned.

  5. Personalized Approach: Castellan focuses only on Information/Cyber Security, which allows us to offer highly personalized consulting services, enabling us to build strong partnerships and work closely with you to address your specific needs and challenges. Our approach involves collaborating closely with your key staff to design a customized security service that aligns with your requirements. This ensures that our service(s) is(are) tailored to your specific needs.

  6. Staff Cost-savings: By opting for our professional services, you gain access to our team at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house security expert. This offers significant cost savings while still benefiting from the extensive knowledge and skills of our team of experts.

Engaging in Red Team and Purple Team exercises can be beneficial for companies of all shapes and sizes. A mature organization might opt to execute a Red Team assessment to enhance the effectiveness of the Blue Team. A Purple Team is all about cooperation and real-time interaction between the Red and Blue teams to enable learning and continuous improvement. Both services improve the effectiveness of a blue team's detection and response controls by uncovering and learning from attack scenarios they might have missed.

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