Cyber Attack Emulation : An Essential Tool for Strengthening Your Defenses

Cyber attacks are a major concern for organizations of all sizes due to the ever-growing dependence on technology and the internet. To be prepared for any potential cyber threats, businesses should use a human-implemented cyber attack emulation as a proactive measure. The primary objective of such emulations are to assess the organization's ability to detect, respond to, and recover from a cyber attack. Through this, organizations can gain valuable insight into their security posture, allowing them to make the necessary improvements before an actual attack occurs.

Objective of Cyber Attack Emulation

Cyber attacks are a major concern for organizations of all sizes due to the ever-growing dependence on technology and the internet. To be prepared for any potential cyber threats, businesses should use a human-implemented cyber attack emulation as a proactive measure. It is essentially a emulated representation of a real-life attack, designed to assess an organization’s cybersecurity defenses and identify vulnerabilities in systems and processes. Furthermore, it provides a platform to test and enhance incident response plans.

The primary objective of such emulations are to assess the organization’s ability to detect, respond to, and recover from a cyber attack. Through this, organizations can gain valuable insight into their security posture, allowing them to make the necessary improvements before an actual attack occurs.

We at DruvStar, recently conducted a security test that emulated a known adversary attack pattern. The test was designed to evaluate the efficacy of our cybersecurity defenses and to provide valuable insights into the current security posture. The outcome of the test was extremely positive, with DruvStar’s detection technologies continuously detecting and responding to the emulated attack.

In this article, we delve deeper into the details of this security test, including the emulated adversary attack pattern, the outcome of the test, and the lessons learned. We also explore the importance of cyber attack emulation in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape.

Cyber Attack Emulation Test: A Closer Look

Emulation of Adversary Attack Pattern: Delivery of Malware, Lateral Movement and Escalation of Privileges

Adversary attack patterns are the typical steps taken by malicious actors during a cyber attack. To emulate an adversary attack pattern, we used a threat-informed approach that selectively emulated behaviors with a higher likelihood of impact on the target. This approach ensured a more relevant assessment of the security defenses compared to random testing. To emulate a realistic attack scenario, we conducted a security test that emulated typical attack patterns, such as delivering malware, gaining a foothold, and expanding access. We stopped before performing any impact techniques, such as data encryption or exfiltration, as the focus of this exercise was to assess defenses before the end is at hand.

In this section, we explore what each of these steps are, with examples to give you a better understanding of how these tactics are used in a cyber attack.

Delivery of Malware

The delivery of malware refers to the process of getting a malicious software onto a target system. This is typically the first step in a cyber attack, as the attacker needs to get their malware onto the target system in order to start their attack. There are many ways that an attacker can deliver malware, including phishing, exploiting vulnerabilities, and using social engineering tactics.

For example, an attacker might send an email to an employee, disguised as an important message from a trusted source, with a malicious attachment or link. When the employee opens the attachment or clicks on the link, the malware is delivered to their system, allowing the attacker to start their attack.

Gain a Foothold

Once the attacker has gained access to a system, they may attempt to escalate their privileges, allowing them to perform actions on the system that they wouldn’t normally be able to do. This can include installing additional software, modifying system settings, or even taking complete control of the system. They may also attempt to setup persistence, so that they can spread out their activity, or keep the access they already have if they lose access for whatever reason.

For example, an attacker might use a vulnerability in a web application to gain access to a system, then use that access to escalate their privileges and install a backdoor, giving them persistent access to the system.

Expand Access

Once the attacker has delivered the malware and gained a foothold on the current system, they will typically attempt to move laterally across the target’s systems, to gain access to sensitive information or systems. This is often done in preparation for a more serious attack, such as a data breach or ransomware attack. Expanding access can include several activities including discovery and credential access techniques, culminating with lateral movement. Lateral movement allows the attacker to gain access to more systems and to broaden their access to achieve greater impact against the target.

For example, a malicious actor may start by compromising a low-level employee’s computer, then use the information they obtain from that system to move on to the company’s servers. This can involve a range of tactics, including exploiting vulnerabilities, using stolen credentials, and leveraging social engineering techniques.

Outcome of the Test

The outcome of the cyber attack emulation performed by DruvStar was highly successful and provided valuable insights into the effectiveness of our cybersecurity solutions.

Throughout the 24-hour emulation, our detection technologies successfully identified and halted the attempts of the emulated adversary to deliver malware, establish a foothold, expand access, and achieve their desired outcomes. Our tools were able to detect the malicious activity in real-time, allowing our security operations center (SOC) analysts to swing into action and contain, escalate, contain, and block the ongoing activities. This highlights the importance of continuous monitoring and detection in responding to cyber threats and also the importance of having a well-trained and capable security team in place to respond to cyber threats.

One of the key highlights of the emulation was the involvement of an insider to deliver the payload. The activation of the payload required the cooperation of the insider, which showcased the importance of security awareness programs for all employees, including those with access to sensitive data. Our tooling caught the emulate bad actor activity in time, and our SOC analysts were able to contain the incident quickly, blocking the user account until a senior security engineer confirmed the cleanup.

The results of the emulation provided clear evidence of the efficacy of our security solutions and the robustness of our incident response process. The emulation helped validate our solutions and showed that we have the right tools and processes in place to detect and respond to security incidents effectively.

In conclusion, the cyber attack emulation was a valuable exercise that provided us with a wealth of information about our security posture. By emulating a real-life scenario, we were able to test the limits of our systems and validate our ability to respond to potential security threats. The outcome and results of the emulation are a testament to the strength of our cybersecurity solutions and the commitment of our team to protecting our clients from cyber attacks.

The results of this emulated attack exemplify how organizations can take a threat-informed approach to ensure they have a comprehensive and proactive defense strategy in today’s evolving threat landscape. We encourage all organizations to prioritize their cybersecurity defenses and remain vigilant against potential attacks. We commend DruvStar on their commitment to be threat-informed, to evaluate their capabilities, and look for ways to continually improve.

Frank Duff, Chief Innovation Officer, Tidal

Lessons Learned

The cyber attack emulation provided valuable insights into our cybersecurity posture. The following are some of the key lessons learned from this exercise:

  1. The Importance of Real-Time Detection and Response: The emulation emphasized the need for real-time detection and response in the face of a cyber attack. Organizations need to have tools and technologies in place to be able to quickly detect and respond to a cyber attack. It further highlights the importance of having a dedicated and skilled SOC team in place.
  2. Need for Continuous Threat Monitoring: Continuous threat monitoring is essential to detecting and mitigating cyber attacks in real-time. The emulation showed that real-time monitoring is crucial in detecting, responding to, and blocking malicious activities before they can cause damage.
  3. The Need for Regular Testing and Fine-Tuning: The emulation highlighted the importance of regularly testing an organization’s cybersecurity measures. By emulating real-world cyber threats, organizations can identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their systems that they may have otherwise missed. Regular testing helps to stay ahead of potential cyber threats and maintain a proactive approach to cybersecurity.
  4. The Role of Insider Threats: The emulation involved the use of an insider to deliver the payload, highlighting the importance of protecting against internal threats, whether witting or accidental, as well as external ones. This serves as a reminder for organizations to implement security measures that account for both internal and external threats.
  5. The Value of Collaboration: The emulation demonstrated the importance of collaboration between different departments within an organization, as well as between organizations. In the face of a real attack, quick and effective collaboration can be the key to successful containment and resolution.
  6. Importance of Security Awareness Training: The emulation highlighted the crucial role that security awareness training plays in detecting and preventing cyber attacks. Employees should be trained regularly to identify and report suspicious activity, including phishing emails and unauthorized access attempts.
  7. The Importance of Continual Improvement: Such emulations can help identify areas for improvement in your organization’s security solutions and incident response protocols.They emphasize the importance of regularly assessing and refining your security posture to stay ahead of changing cyber threats.


In conclusion, the cyber attack emulation conducted by DruvStar was a valuable exercise that provided valuable insights into the organization’s cybersecurity measures. The lessons learned from this emulation helps us better prepare for real-world threats and maintain a strong security posture.

DruvStar is committed to offering comprehensive cybersecurity solutions to organizations. From security assessments to continuous threat monitoring and data security to security training, our solutions are designed to help organizations stay ahead of evolving cyber threats. By utilizing the insights gained from this cyber attack emulation, we are confident in our ability to provide cutting-edge security solutions that meet the evolving needs of organizations.

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