The Power of Automated Purple Teaming for Continuous Operational Maturity Improvement

Cybercrime is expected to cost $8 trillion in 2023, making it the world’s third-largest economy behind just the U.S. and China. Not only is the cost of cybercrime accelerating, but so is the frequency of attacks. After a record-setting number of attacks in 2022, more than 6.4 million records have already been exposed in Q1 2023.

Traditional approaches to cybersecurity validation, such as relying on penetration testing and red teams, are no longer sufficient to protect against evolving threats in enterprises. By combining elements of the red team and blue team, however, automated purple teaming assessments can rapidly improve operational maturity to ensure organizations are ready for future threats

Advancements in Purple Teaming

The more mature an organization’s cybersecurity practices, the better equipped it is to prevent and mitigate threats to improve resiliency. However, all of those investments need to work together to stop the threats organizations face to ensure any operational gaps are not missed. According to Mandaint, without comprehensive testing, organizations typically miss around 50% of the threat techniques they face. So even if there is a big cybersecurity budget, it is imperative to holistically test the systems–technology, processes, and personnel. Automated purple teaming creates a continuous feedback loop to foster ongoing improvement across all of the investments.

The right threat exposure management platform will test your technology, processes, and people. Automated attack simulations emulate real-world threats to provide a more realistic assessment of organizational defense systems. While most threat exercises focus on uncovering security gaps,  SightGain goes further by testing the processes SecOps teams use and how SOC analysts actually respond to emulated threats. This provides a more holistic approach to understanding where security gaps are and how well everything — and everyone — works to detect, respond, and mitigate attacks. Even more importantly, SightGain integrates directly with your systems to analyze the results to find gaps, identify the cause, and then provide a prioritized list of recommendations. 

Automated Purple Teaming in Action

Managed security service providers (MSSPs) and managed detection and response (MDR) providers see significant benefits by offering automated purple team exercises to their customers, including:

  • Reduced manual efforts by automating routine processes such as threat testing, operational assessment, analytics, incident response, and recommendations.
  • Improve threat detection and response to detect and respond to threats.
  • Standardization of rules, playbooks, and responses across automated and manual workflows.
  • Proactive completion and scoring of compliance reports and security performance.
  • Distinct offerings in the marketplace for better results, and faster outcomes, with less expense than manual assessments. 

How to Automate Purple Teaming

Automating purple teaming requires implementing the right threat exposure management platform. For example, SightGain enables threat emulation of real threat techniques in a customer’s environment. Preprogrammed assessments can help providers focus purple team assessments on the most important security outcomes. These can be tailored for assessments that examine the customer’s most important security investments. 

With SightGain, customers get comprehensive insights into their performance, with empirical measures of operational performance, and prioritized recommendations to address any security gaps uncovered. This gives customers an unprecedented ability to proactively manage the overall cybersecurity posture across people, processes, and technology to achieve continuous security protection against the latest attacks.

Example: SightGain’s threat assessment processes and technology did an assessment of an USAF cyber defense unit. During the assessment, SightGain emulated 125 actual cyber techniques from across MITRE ATT&CK framework and analyzed the results analysis to evaluate the prevention, detection, analytics, alerting, and response capabilities of the organization. Despite significant investment in cybersecurity defense and personnel, all of the tests went undetected by the Air Force’s existing tools or analysts. SightGain solutions had no detrimental impact on the production system.

By implementing SightGain recommendations for remediation, tuning, and continuous testing enabled the cybersecurity team to quickly create a posture of continuous operational readiness and achieve substantially improved performance, such as:

  • 89% faster threat identification
  • 68% improvement in threat detection

Implementing Automated Purple Teaming Program

MSSPs and MDRs should take a few steps to implement an automated purple teaming solution for their clients:

  • Choose assessment automation tools, such as SightGain.
  • Select attack scenarios and test cases based on real-world threats.
  • Automate real-world attack simulations and attacks within your production environment.
  • Evaluate results, remediate security gaps, and provide individual training for SecOps teams.
  • Implement continuous monitoring to stay current with evolving threats.

Tailoring automated purple team assessments to the specific operational needs and contexts is essential to aligning strategies with clients’ risk tolerance and operational needs. The size of the organization, the complexity of infrastructure, the level of threat exposures, and compliance requirements all play a role in determining how to conduct purple team assessments. This needs to be reflected in the automation workflows, alerting, reporting, and responses.

In implementing SightGain’s approach, one of the primary advantages is that cybersecurity improvements are action-oriented and prioritized. This enables customers to direct improvement efforts more effectively, focusing on the threats that most significantly affect the target organization.

Another crucial, but overlooked area of security programs is the performance of SOC analysts against the threats they face. SightGain uniquely tackles this challenge head-on by conducting performance assessments of target SecOps analysts and teams. When potential weaknesses are detected, customized training modules are instantly created based on specific results.

Rather than subjecting SecOps teams to one-size-fits-all training, SightGain provides immediate access to targeted training modules. These are geared to address and rectify specific areas of concern, leading to more efficient and effective improvements in the SOC.

Using Automated Purple Teaming to Drive Continuous Operational Maturity

As the threat landscape continues to evolve and threats accelerate in diversity and frequency, automated purple teaming has become the new standard for ensuring continuous operational maturity improvement.

Automated purple teaming will:

  • Strengthen overall cybersecurity performance 
  • Proactively identify real gaps in program performance
  • Track and trend improvements in the ability to detect attacks
  • Provide continuous feedback loops for operational leadership
  • Improve collaboration, coordination, and innovation

By pressure-testing technology across the enterprise, operating procedures, and team performance, automated purple teams can uncover security gaps that can lead to potential exposure. These assessments will also validate solutions that are optimally tuned and configured while measuring the effectiveness of detection and response across the entire cybersecurity program. Schedule a demo of SightGain today and let us show you how automated purple teaming and continuous threat management can provide you with the total visibility you need to improve performance.