Nothing is bulletproof

Companies that collect sensitive customer data (like credit card details and social security numbers) must adhere to the strictest regulations and industry standards, which include data segmentation and separation. But can these companies claim that their data is “100% safe?”

BugSec’s cyber-attack simulation is designed to test this. Using multiple modern techniques such as reconnaissance, social engineering, phishing, asset mapping and more, we launch a pretend attack on the organization’s infrastructure. The main purpose is to test the existing security shields, see whether they operate in a synchronized manner, and provide an answer to the question – am I safe?

Several months ago, a PCI-DSS compliant organization from the credit card industry asked us to conduct a cyber-attack simulation to test whether its data – the holy grail for any hacker – was secure. The company’s decision makers were anxious to find out whether their security measures were bulletproof due to the sensitivity of the data they collect and in light of recent cyber-attacks against industry competitors, like Equifax.

At first glance, we must admit, the organization’s policies and controls were very strict and operated in perfect harmony – it was a real beauty from a security perspective. But we dug a little deeper and discovered the weakest link, [the human factor]. We were able to deliver our malware throughout this channel.

Once we were inside the system, it still wasn’t easy to get to the data. As we all know, a PCI-DSS environment is very committed to data segmentation and sometimes even physically separated. But, we were eventually able to gain access after successful privilege escalation and holding a domain admin account (once again, the human factor). From this point we progressed toward the trophy – PCI DB, and once achieved and exfiltrated out (with extreme precautions), we presented it to the customer who remained speechless.

Unfortunately, there’s no patch for human error – that’s our response when companies ask us what’s left to purchase or install in order to prevent it? This brings us back to a very basic axiom – user awareness to cyber threats costs 0.1% from a known control and efficient 10 times if not more.