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CodeHunter | Blog | Why Executives Should Play Cyber War Games

Make Sure You’re Prepared For Cyber Attacks

Just as the military uses simulated environments to prepare troops, forward-thinking cybersecurity teams stage mock security breaches to ensure they’re prepared for cyber attacks. Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Technologies use cyber war games as part of their security arsenal — a proactive measure to safeguard their data and their business.

As your business grows, so will the number of attacks you face. You know the adage: Cyberattacks are so common that it’s not a matter of whether a business will fall prey to one, but when. Here are our top five reasons why you should conduct cyber war games at your company.

1. Stand ready.

Cyber war games ensure your security professionals and extended team are ready for anything. Your proprietary data can be swaddled in encryptions and accessible only by a 2FA token, retina scan, and voice-activated password, but unless your company's cybersecurity is constantly evolving, it’s only a matter of time before it’s breached. By participating in war games, tech professionals learn to think like an adversary and identify weaknesses in their own defenses before hackers can.

2. Learn the ways of your adversaries to defend your environment.

Cyber war games go beyond penetration testing in search of vulnerabilities — unsecured network ports, data in transit, and externally facing programs sharing too much information. Modeled after real-life hacking techniques, from phishing to cross-site scripting, they’re designed to test even the most savvy security team’s agility and decision-making skills. Furthermore, it helps the security team better understand each angle of an attack, anticipate new ones, and rapidly devise go-to countermeasures. NATO’s yearly cyber war game, Locked Shields, imagines a fictional country on the defensive. Targets may include anything from the civilian to the military — think water treatment facilities, energy plants, and military installations— and the rules, based on actual law, force participants to navigate the legal repercussions of their actions. Put into this context, it’s easier to see yourself as the protector of sensitive systems and information.

3. Know the risks of being ill-prepared.

Attacks have consequences. A data breach can cost millions of dollars, lose client trust and business, and lead to legal repercussions. If protected personal information (PPI) is stolen, organizations may face not only government fines but also legal action such as class action lawsuits — not to mention the gauntlet of public ridicule. Social media platforms have certainly taken heat this year: Facebook alone suffered a breach that exposed 533 million users’ information and is now facing potentially billions of dollars in lawsuits — and that’s on top of the PR nightmare.

4. Improve security culture.

If a security team is in the habit of setting and forgetting defensive measures, they’re leaving their company exposed to collapse under cyberattacks. The best defense against ever-evolving attacks is practice, and what better way to practice than to play against one another? As in chess, the player with the stronger and more flexible tactics will emerge the victor — and the entire team will learn from it.

5. Develop strategies to survive the next attack.

Many companies will struggle to survive a cyberattack. Part of a cyber war game should include fail safes and backup plans. What happens if the enemy does breach the gates? A war game inspires players to contrive system resets, automatic updates and data backups, and countless other ways to mitigate the potential effects of a cyberattack. Damage control is just as important as defense in surviving an attack.

Practicing how to defend against cyber attacks is an increasingly complex part of company security; wargaming keeps a security team’s minds open, reactions on-point, and strategies creative — and, most importantly, one step ahead.

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