Why the Best Defense is a Great Offensive Cybersecurity Strategy

Offensive cybersecurity is critical to protecting your organization's assets from being hacked. By implementing a proactive offensive security approach, you'll stay ahead of hackers and programs with malicious intent.

Table of Contents:

Assess Your Cybersecurity Foundation

When developing your offensive cybersecurity strategy, the first thing is to assess your security foundation. That begins with a risk assessment. If you haven't thought about a full risk assessment, that may be the first place you want to turn. Risk assessments and supporting documentation help your organization comply with regulatory requirements and ensure that your assets and network endpoints are safe.


Internal Vulnerability

The first half of your cybersecurity foundational assessment involves an analysis of any internal vulnerabilities. These include going through a few standard best practices.


  • Update all operating systems
  • Assess any service provider cybersecurity protocols
  • Update antivirus and antimalware software
  • Assess your cybersecurity training program
  • Review data loss prevention policies
  • Check network connections
  • Check data backup systems
  • Conduct internal vulnerability scans to identify network weaknesses
  • Check your cybersecurity insurance policy


All of these are best practices that can help you ensure any attacks aren't going to be from a failure to safeguard your network or devices.


External Vulnerability

The other half of the same coin is understanding external vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity threats are constantly changing at increasingly fast rates. Regular scans of the external cybersecurity landscape can help your security team be aware of potential trending threats. Working with a dedicated MSSP can help you to receive frequent alerts when massive breaches occur so you can adjust your internal strategy accordingly. 


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Red-Team Exercise Implementation

Red-team assessments are goal-based and involve rigorously challenging the existing systems in an organization. These are exercises that involve benevolent hackers thinking horrible thoughts. They come in with malicious intent to reveal vulnerabilities in a company's security through hands-on testing. They seek out blind spots and vulnerabilities to exploit. At the same time, they assess how your team responds, how your policies impact their activities and your overall readiness across the entire attack surface.


Red team exercises differ from penetration testing, which we will discuss in the next section. These exercises are meant to exploit multiple systems working together and seek various avenues across entire organizations. The protagonists are seeking to think as attackers. Deciding whom to bring in to conduct red team exercises should be carefully determined. Trust and experience are critical. They are the bad guy, and it's up to your organization's internal blue team to beat them. 

Pentesting Exercise Implementation

Another offensive strategy we encourage is penetration testing, or pentesting for short. LINK TO SCA PAGE. Pentesting is when a security team simulates attacks to test a system's security. Penetration testing differs from red team exercises because the attacks use known, common hacking techniques rather than creative, overarching systemic attacks. They use automated and manual attack techniques to determine how far existing hackers can penetrate a target system or network. 


These tests demonstrate how well a system or application can withstand real-world attacks. They show sophisticated attacks would have to be and what kind of remediation would be needed to reduce existing threats and respond quickly to attacks. 


Pentesting helps to evaluate the adequacy of security controls to detect malicious actors and protect the system from being affected. It can also help meet compliance requirements for federal, state, and local government entities. Pentesting can be done on several levels, depending on how aggressive your security team wants to test. White box testing means the attacks are made with full system knowledge. In contrast, grey box or black box testing means the "attacker" has limited or zero system knowledge. White box testing is the most rigorous level of pentesting. It will prove critical to the strength of your cybersecurity offensive.

Static Application Security Testing

The third primary offensive cyber security strategy tactic we recommend is static application security testing (SAST). Static application security testing reviews software source code to identify sources of vulnerabilities that could affect your network. This offensive strategy can identify issues that may lead to severe vulnerabilities in code production. This kind of testing can identify SQL injections and dirty input codes. It can also identify where errors are handled suboptimally. 


The benefits of SAST include scanning source codes to identify weaknesses, real-time reporting to security teams, and coverage of multiple development languages. It is a critical part of the software development life cycle, so we consider this testing essential to basic security development and maintenance for our clients who develop proprietary software.