References on Adversary Simulations - Cobalt Strike Research and Development
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References on Adversary Simulations

A friend recently made the statement that my blog posts have so many videos and links that it would take someone a week to go through all of the material. This comment was made in reference to the blog post exploring the Adversary Simulation space. This topic is near and dear to my heart, so I’d like to dissect the links and videos in the post and why I think they’re worthwhile for you to read.

Why do we need Adversary Simulation?

Penetration Testing with Honest-to-Goodness Malware []

This commentary by Gunter Ollmann describes penetration testing as a service with some value, but one that does not reflect its origin: emulating the adversary’s techniques. Maybe the advanced adversary uses Nessus from the target’s conference room and we’re both wrong? Who knows. I like this article because it discusses why adversary emulation is important, it makes a fair argument about why pen testing [still valuable] isn’t a substitute for this, and it proposes a solution to the problem.

Purple Teaming for Success [SecureIdeas]

Kevin Johnson and James Jardine took the time to put together a blog post and webcast that describes their take on purple teaming. I’m not a fan of the term purple teaming and I see it as overbroad, but Kevin and James provide good arguments about why new models for red and blue to work together make sense without prescribing a solution that’s more of the same old pen tester stuff.

How do I see Adversary Simulations?

Puttering my Panda and Other Threat Replication Case Studies [Gratuitous Self-link]

As a tool developer, I look at problems like Adversary Simulations, and ask what my tools do to support these things. Cobalt Strike has some nifty technologies for Adversary Simulations. It contains several ready-to-use user-driven attacks to get a foothold. It has a phishing tool that will ingest an existing email and repurpose it into attack. And, it has Malleable C2, a technology that lets you change what its Beacon payload looks like on the wire. You can fool an analyst into thinking they’re dealing with another piece of malware. This blog post shows three case studies to reproduce tradecraft and indicators from public reports on advanced persistent threat activity.

Hacking to Get Caught: A Concept for Adversary Replication [Yeah, me me me]

This is a May 2014 talk on the Adversary Replication concept. In this talk, I work to make a case that an Adversary Simulation is Red Teaming guided by Threat Intelligence. The model I proposed is meant to exercise a customer’s process to analyze and attribute an attack. My thoughts have evolved since this talk but I think it’s still worth watching if you’re really interested in this topic.

What are my favorite Adversary Simulation references?

Red Teaming: Using Cutting-Edge Threat Simulation to Harden the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud []

This whitepaper was sent to me at 9pm the day before I published my post on Adversary Simulation. It’s awesome! Microsoft describes the same concept in their own words. Key to their approach is what they call an innovative “Assume Breach” strategy. Of everything I reference in this post, I consider this paper the most important. I recommend that you go read it.

Threat Models that Exercise Your SIEM and Incident Response [Nick Jacob]

This talk describes how to build a threat model and derive from it a story board for a quarterly cyber security exercise. Nick goes into the nitty gritty of how they work to provide the observables that support this sequence of events and give analysts something meaningful to chase. He also digs into metrics as well.

Seeing Purple: Hybrid Security Teams for the Enterprise [Mark Kikta]

This is another talk from an MISEC member that discusses the periodic cyber security exercise and how to support it. I think Mark, Nick, and Wolfgang are dead on with their insights and if I had a magical wand, everyone who works in this space would watch these talks.