With breaches making headlines every other week, security teams hardly ever have enough time to ramp up and test their defense strategy before a new and more sophisticated attack surfaces. When reputation, revenue and customer trust is at stake, it’s critical for organizations to detect, respond and manage security incidents effectively. But how can organizations prepare?

Although there is no “magic answer,” incident preparation is key, and testing your incident response (IR) plan can be the difference between success and failure if, or when, a breach occurs. In fact, “The Forrester Wave: Cybersecurity Incident Response Services, Q1 2019,” released earlier this month, mentioned that vendors that provide cyber range services “position themselves to successfully deliver strong incident preparation and breach response to their customers.”

The Value of Cyber Range Training

When I joined IBM Security nearly three years ago to build out the X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS) team, one of my primary goals was to guide the team to focus on core solutions that deliver value to the enterprise. However, I realized that even though our team focused on embedding threat intelligence into our IR engagements and specialized in comprehensive post-breach remediation, we needed to do more.

We needed to offer the next generation of IR preparation and give our clients access to cyber ranges, where they could practice defending against simulated threats in immersive, real-world training scenarios. We wanted to mature the experience for our clients from PowerPoint-driven tabletop discussions to real-world simulated attacks that test multiple dimensions and stakeholders within environments.

We believed these types of simulations more accurately reflected what responding to a breach was actually like — the feeling of being under pressure 24 hours a day during the event, and the pressure to analyze data quickly, provide status updates, speak with the press, work with internal and external legal counsel, and communicate to clients. We believed that if we could create an environment like this and enable our clients to train in it, each one would leave better prepared than they came in.

Let’s dive deeper into a few key reasons why security teams should consider testing their current response capabilities within a scenario-driven, simulated cyber range.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Cyberattacks change quickly, so training must test your organization’s ability to adapt its actions and be responsive enough to keep up with new attack methodologies. Cyber ranges enable security teams to practice identifying and responding to threats in a real-world environment using a variety of technologies and runbooks. When security teams actively train in environments that effectively simulate a real-world breach, they are more likely to retain the information learned and respond more quickly when an actual breach occurs.

2. Gain Hands-On Experience

Cyber ranges offer an environment for teams to train collectively, improve their cyberdefense skills and gain critical insight into a variety of stakeholder actions within the organization. This tends to improve communication and teamwork across the enterprise because it gives teams a better understanding of what other departments are responsible for. This is critical to building a successful IR team, and it’s difficult to obtain that experience through conventional training simulations.

3. Advance Organizational Security

Training in an authentic but controlled environment can help security teams deal with crisis situations in a rapid manner. Simply put, the more security-savvy your teams are, the better prepared they will be to implement and execute the most efficient security strategy for today and tomorrow.

Fortifying a Defense Starts With People

Organizations are relying more and more on people as their first line of defense. Although the maturity of effective security technology is growing, it’s still important for cybersecurity teams to train their response in realistic and immersive environments. Cyberthreats won’t stop, so your security teams shouldn’t either. By leveraging cyber range training and bolstering your incident response strategy, your organization can evolve its approach and proactively defend against rapidly evolving threats.

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