Sophisticated Attacks

Sophisticated Attacks

Enhancing cyber infrastructure security with virtual sandboxes and cyber ranges

With cyber-attacks on the ascent, the need to strengthen the security posture and be responsive is top of mind for CIOs, CEOs and CISOs. Security is closely interlinked to all aspects of the business and has a direct bearing on business reputation, privacy and intellectual property. Unfortunately, the IT stack continues to get complicated even as attacks continue to get sophisticated. Further artificial simulations undertaken without a real-world replica or a virtual-only scenario can often overlook vulnerabilities that could not be seen in a simulated environment. And, in the cases where an investment is made in building the complex testing infrastructure, it can often be cost prohibitive aside from the time spent to set up and tear down infrastructure and applications.

This is where traditional security test beds run into bottlenecks, as they require significant, costly investments in hardware and staffing and even then cannot scale effectively to address today’s growing network traffic volume and ever-more-complex attack vectors. Government, military and commercial organizations are deploying “cyber range,” test beds that allow war games and simulations to strengthen cybersecurity defenses and skills.

It is integral to make these test beds highly efficient, cost-effective and scalable. Over the last few years there has been a need to replicate large scale, complex and diverse networks. One that can orchestrate a hybrid sandbox containing both virtual and physical resources needed for the assessment of cybertechnologies. Because cyber ranges are a controlled sandbox, a smart solution needs resource management and automation features that provide the ability to stand up and tear down cyber range sandboxes as needed in a repeatable manner.

Operational conditions and configurations are easily replicated to re-test cyber attack scenarios. This sandbox uses resources such intrusion detection, malware analyzers, firewall appliances and common services such as email and file servers. The sandbox resources are isolated into white, red and blue team areas for cyber warfare exercise scenarios in a controlled sandbox.

The industry is now demanding containerized portable infrastructure to support virtual sandboxes and cyber agents with on-demand containerized infrastructures to create and manage cyber ranges and private cloud sandboxes. Through full infrastructure and IT environment virtualization and automation, security conscious enterprises can save millions of dollars in costs associated with creating, delivering and managing the full stack of physical compute, network and storage resources in highly secure containers.

One such customer is the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) the premier combat support agency of the Department of Defense (DoD). According to Ernet McCaleb, ManTech technical director and DISA Cyber Range chief architect this solution provided them with the means to fulfil their mission without sacrificing performance or security and deliver their MPLS stack at a fraction of the cost.

Cyber Ranges are not just for federal defense establishments alone. They have broader applicability across the Enterprise.

Top 3 reasons to use Cyber Ranges

  • Lower costs of simulating Security testing.
  • Increase agility and responsiveness by combining automation with cyber ranges.
  • Harden security posture.

Three questions to Consider Choosing Cyber Ranges or Sandbox Infrastructure Solutions

  • How flexible is the Cyber Range solution?
  • Does it allow modeling of physical, virtual and modern containerized environments?
  • What’s the cost of building and operating one?

As enterprises bring newer security tools into their arsenal against cyber-attacks, the modern cyber ranger solutions should definitely be on top of their consideration list.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Shashi Kiran is the chief marketing officer at Fortanix

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