IBM report reveals that the cost of data breaches has reached record highs over the past year. The banking industry has also seen an exponential rise in ransomware attacks, with one study indicating that banks have seen a 1,318 percent increase in ransomware attacks in 2021. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and it is only logical to respond to them by fortifying defenses.

Cyber defense fortification is not just about having the best security controls, though. Even with the most advanced security tech, bad actors can still find their way into networks or IT assets if they manage to find vulnerabilities they can exploit. Hence, organizations should consider security validation as a critical part of their security posture.

SEE: Google, Microsoft, and Oracle generated most vulnerabilities in 2021

One of the best ways to undertake security validation at present is purple teaming, an approach that entails the collaboration between the red (attack) and blue (defense) teams while still keeping them independent from each other. It significantly strengthens cyber defenses by taking advantage of the adversarial perspective in examining vulnerabilities and anticipating potential attacks.

In turn, purple teaming can serve an important role in addressing cybercrime. If this does not sound convincing enough, consider the following points.

Threshing out security weaknesses

Security validation is not just some supplementary security process implemented by organizations. It is crucial because it ascertains that the security controls put in place are functionally sound and capable of delivering the kind of protection expected from them. Testing security controls optimize an organization’s security posture by spotting defects or weaknesses promptly and addressing them accordingly.

Given the massive volumes of attacks, though, it is impossible to keep up with the attempts to penetrate cyber defenses using manual security testing. Also, with the increasing sophistication of attacks, it is usually not enough for organizations to rely on their in-house cybersecurity teams. They need an adversarial perspective as well as a more efficient way to detect and deal with the attacks. This is where advanced automated purple team simulation comes in. 

Automated purple teaming is one of the best ways to address cybercrime as it does not only test for the deficiencies in existing security controls. It also helps in the evaluation of variations of threats and lateral attacks that may defeat defenses unexpectedly. With the help of up-to-date threat intelligence and a standardized collaborative threat handling framework like MITRE ATTACK, organizations can achieve enhanced security strategies capable of addressing even zero-day attacks and the complex schemes of bad actors.

Purple teaming, by the way, does not mean the creation of a new team with members coming from the red and blue teams. It is mainly about sharing insights on how to improve attack and defense simulations without necessarily letting each other know what the red and blue teams are doing. Purple teaming enables collaboration to help explore scenarios that would otherwise be left unexplored when the red and blue teams are virtually working in silos.

Countering the commonplaceness of vulnerable software

A survey report entitled Modern Application Development Security reveals that nearly five in every ten organizations wittingly release vulnerable codes. They make available to the public software or applications that have not gone through rigorous security testing. This affects not only the software or app providers but more importantly the end-users. It means vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals to steal data, interrupt operations, or spread malicious software.

This tendency to push vulnerable software happens mainly because of very strict deadlines imposed on app developers. There are also instances when developers just do not have enough time to address security problems because the vulnerabilities have been discovered too late.

Purple teaming provides a good solution for this common problem by helping organizations undertake thorough evaluations of the security of the applications they are using. Companies can employ purple teaming to scrutinize their systems and discover various weaknesses in their software, including web applications, that have the potential to become serious cybersecurity incidents.

Purple teaming on web app use is a boon to many businesses that are now relying on online services or web-based platforms instead of using conventional client-based apps. Web apps are favorite targets for many cybercriminals because they can find various useful data that are often kept online for convenient access. Also, cyber attackers understand that they can “achieve better outcomes” if they manage to paralyze business operations after disrupting an organization’s core web apps.

Also worth noting, the OWASP Top 10 has been updated to reflect the growing seriousness of software security issues. Broken Access Control now tops the list in view of the increasing instances of Common Weakness Enumerations (CWEs) observed among web apps. This entails that organizations need to pay more attention to the security of the web applications they are using.

In a way, purple teaming can plug security issues that have been left unaddressed by the software developers. Organizations may not be able to plug these security gaps by modifying the app codes, but they can institute changes or new measures to prevent software vulnerabilities from contaminating the rest of their system and IT assets.

Addressing the human error factor

One IBM study says that human error is the leading cyber threat to businesses in 2021. These errors can be attributed to carelessness, switching to new arrangements that affect the cybersecurity posture, configuration errors, and the failure or refusal to update among others. 

As fraud prevention tech expert Mus Huseyin declares, “Corporates seeking to protect digital assets must face an uncomfortable truth: the biggest threat to cybersecurity lies within the company.” Security technologies have continued improving significantly, but it appears the human problem in cybersecurity has remained largely the same over the years.

This is why there are still many cases of successful attacks that take advantage of human error.  A VentureBeat report says phishing attacks on banking customers have risen by 30 percent in 2020. There are also reports that show dramatic increases in human hacking attacks across different digital channels. Social engineering attacks continue to be a critical threat to all kinds of organizations because of the human error factor.

SEE: OpenSea vulnerability allowed crypto stealing with malicious NFTs

Purple teaming is an effective way to address human errors in cybersecurity. By bringing together the adversarial perspective and expertise of cyber defense professionals, it becomes easier to detect and eliminate potential vulnerabilities in systems that are linked to human errors. Mistakes in configurations, problematic threat handling protocols, protocols that allow employees to ignore security procedures, and other similar weaknesses can be detected and addressed through purple teaming.

Cybercrime prevention and impact mitigation

Prevention is always better than cure, and this is what purple teaming does as it examines the effectiveness of security controls in catching and stopping cyber attacks. What makes purple teaming even better is that it can also help with mitigation. The purple team modules in automated cybersecurity platforms, for example, are designed to provide quick options on how to deal with detected threats or attacks.

Cybercrimes succeed because of poor cyber defenses. To strengthen these defenses, organizations should deem security validation particularly through purple teaming as something essential for their security posture.

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Posted by Charlie