Test Your Cyberdefense with Hacker’s Mindset (Part 1)

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Test Your Cyberdefense with Hacker’s Mindset (Part 1)

Understanding the Mindset of Hackers

We keep hearing the term “Hackers” very often these days – the elections getting hacked, hotels getting hacked and paying ransom to get their guests out of their rooms, healthcare databases getting hacked, and so on. Hacking is a very generic term. People read about it a lot but do not focus much until of course they themselves fall prey to cyber-attacks by such hackers.

Hacking is a term that has been used in various contexts. It can be used to refer to the process of modifying or altering computer hardware or software, but it can also be used more broadly to refer to any type of cyber attack carried out with bad intent.

Who are they?

Hackers are usually skilled computer programmers and have knowledge in both hardware and software, which means they know how to manipulate security systems by exploiting their weaknesses. Usually, these are people who illegally access a computer system to steal data or cause damage. They can be anyone from a disgruntled former employee to a criminal organization. However, there are many various types of hackers, each with their own objectives and motivations for their acts.

Precautions will go a long way

Hacking is no longer a skill only possessed by those interested in computers. It has become more mainstream. Technology has become an inseparable part of all our lives, and with that, so has hacking. It makes one extremely susceptible to hacks if they don’t take proper precautions.

Imagine as soon as your machine is connected to the internet, somebody scans it with an automated vulnerability probing tool and searches for ways to get in. Maybe they are just curious to know what’s on the machine or just trying to see whether the system is secure or maybe they have some very malicious intentions. It’s a scary thought, right? You wouldn’t want strangers passing by to stop and check whether your house is locked or not, so why take any chances in the digital world?

The Most Common Hacking Techniques Are:

There are many types of techniques, but we’ll focus on the most common and regularly used ones here. Social Engineering & Phishing: It’s one of the most widely used attacks. By imitating a trusted source, social engineers try to persuade you to reveal personal information. Phishing emails are a common form of social engineering bait, in which a hacker sends you a message that appears to be from someone you know and asks you to do something, such as wire money or click/download an infected attachment. Be very careful when opening these types of attachments. They can use malware to infect your device, giving malicious actors access to your data.

Clickjacking Attacks: In these attacks, the attacker redirects the victim’s clicks to a page where the hacker wants the victim to be, rather than the original website. It operates by tricking an internet user into doing something unintentionally by clicking on a hidden link. UI Redress is another term for clickjacking.

Denial of Service (DoS\DDoS): A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is a hacking technique that involves flooding a server or website with a large quantity of traffic. This renders the server unable to process all of the requests in real-time and it eventually fails. For DDoS attacks, hackers often deploy botnets or zombie computers that have only one task, that is, to flood your system with request packets. With each passing year, DDoS attacks keep getting more severe as hackers get more advanced.

Cookie Theft: We surf the web through Browsers, and the websites we visit store cookies in a browser. If a hacker gains access to your browser’s cookie session, by authenticating as yourself on the browser, the hacker can execute attacks. Cookies contain our search history, account passwords, and other important information. Manipulation of a user’s IP packets to travel via the attacker’s system is a typical approach for carrying out such attacks. This attack, also known as SideJacking or Session Hijacking, is simple to execute if the user does not use SSL (HTTPS) for the entire web session. It is critical that websites, where you enter your password and banking information, encrypt their connections.

Malware-Injecting Attacks: An attacker can implant malware into your devices through a variety of methods, including any malware injecting device such as Infected USB sticks, which can offer hackers remote access to your device as soon as you plug them into your computer. Or via phishing emails etc. Viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, worms, adware, and ransomware are all examples of prevalent malware.

Security Solutions To Detect And Protect From Such Attacks

Holistic security solutions are needed to get protection from such cybersecurity risks. Such solutions include Endpoint Protection, EDR, Firewalls & SIEMs, etc. Let us discuss each of them in brief to get a basic understanding of how these solutions work.

Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP): Endpoint protection ensures the security of a wide range of endpoints, from mobile phones to printers. Cyberattacks are becoming more and more common as well as sophisticated, and IT systems and data are always under attack. Cyber attacks employ multiple coordinated ways to gain access to a company’s IT systems. And in many cases, endpoints are the first point of entry for attackers.

ENDPOINT DETECTION AND RESPONSE: Endpoint detection and response (EDR), also known as endpoint detection and threat response (EDTR), is an endpoint security system that monitors end-user devices in real-time to detect and respond to cyber threats such as ransomware or malware. Security teams can use EDR security solutions to record activities and events on endpoints and across all workloads, giving them the visibility they need to find problems that would otherwise go undetected. EDR systems provide continuous and comprehensive visibility of what is happening on endpoints in real-time.

The EDR has continue enabling the security team work effectively and efficiency because it provides more tools with different functions and detection capability. Its ability of it to collect data from various endpoints and do a correlation make it suitable for avoiding a false positive and improving reliability.

FIREWALL: A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and allows or blocks data packets based on a set of security rules. Its goal is to create a barrier between your internal network and incoming traffic from other sources so that harmful data is blocked. To prevent attacks, firewalls analyze incoming information based on pre-defined criteria and filter traffic from unsecured or questionable sources. Firewalls also protect traffic at a computer’s ports, which are the points where data is shared with external devices.

SECURITY INFORMATION AND EVENT MANAGEMENT (SIEM): Security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) software operate together to enable real-time analysis of security alarms generated by applications and network devices. SIEM software compares events to rules and analytics engines, then indexes them for sub-second search, allowing sophisticated threats to be detected and analyzed utilizing global intelligence. Data analysis, event correlation and aggregation, reporting, and log management give security teams great insight into the IT environments of the company.

Why is it crucial to put your defenses under the tests?

Organizations may have the greatest cybersecurity technology, software, services, policies, and processes in the industry. But how can you be sure, no matter how confident you are, in your overall cybersecurity posture? Cybersecurity testing is all about making sure whether or not your entire security posture is performing properly.

In a nutshell, it goes like this:

  • Prepared for an attack
  • Risks are Identified
  • Amount of errors are Identified

Framework to evaluate the effectiveness of security solutions:

There are various types of frameworks available but here we will discuss the most applicable framework for testing the security of the solutions which is MITRE ATT&CK FRAMEWORK


MITRE ATT&CK® is a global knowledge archive of opponent tactics and approaches based on real-world observations. The ATT&CK knowledge base is used as a foundation for the building of specific threat models and techniques in the commercial sector, government, and the cybersecurity product and service industry.

The framework is made up of tactics, techniques, and sub-techniques; each technique has a four-digit code, such as T1548 for Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism. Mitre is constantly adding to the Enterprise ATT&CK matrix, which already comprises 185 techniques and 367 sub-techniques.

Each technique explains how threat actors operate, providing the credentials needed, the platforms on which the technology is most commonly used, and how to spot orders or actions associated with the technique.

Some of the top Techniques according to the framework are:

  1. Process Injection(T1055): Process injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process. Running code in the context of another process may allow access to the process’s memory, system/network resources, and possibly elevated privileges.
  2. Credential Dumping (T1003): Adversaries may attempt to dump credentials to obtain account login and credential material, normally in the form of a hash or a clear text password, from the operating system and software.
  3. Scheduled Task (T1053): Adversaries may abuse task scheduling functionality to facilitate initial or recurring execution of malicious code. Utilities exist within all major operating systems to schedule programs or scripts to be executed at a specified date and time.
  4. System Information Discovery(T1082): An adversary may attempt to get detailed information about the operating system and hardware, including version, patches, hotfixes, service packs, and architecture.
  5. Disabling Security Tools (T1089): Adversaries may modify and/or disable security tools to avoid possible detection of their malware/tools and activities. This may take the many forms, such as killing security software processes or services, modifying / deleting Registry keys or configuration files so that tools do not operate properly, or other methods to interfere with security tools scanning or reporting information.

To Test such Techniques we need to create a completely Isolated Test Environment configured with our security solutions, which we have done in our next blog, please watch this space for the link.


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