Cyber security
06.05 2024

Bolstering Cyber Resilience with High-Quality Red Teaming

The escalating complexity and frequency of cyberattacks pose a critical risk to the stability of financial institutions and critical infrastructure across Europe. In response to this growing threat, the European Central Bank (ECB) spearheaded the development of the Threat Intelligence-based Ethical Red Teaming (TIBER-EU) framework. This framework provides a structured methodology for testing and improving the cyber resilience of critical entities within the European Union. Red teaming specialists play an essential role in the effective implementation of TIBER-EU, ensuring that the testing process delivers accurate and valuable insights to bolster cyber defenses.

What is TIBER-EU?

TIBER-EU is a controlled and targeted red teaming framework designed to mimic the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of sophisticated cyber adversaries. Unlike traditional penetration testing that often uses standardized vulnerability scans, TIBER-EU incorporates comprehensive threat intelligence to simulate real-world attack scenarios specifically tailored to the target entity. The framework's primary objectives are to:

  • Enhance Protection, Detection, and Response: TIBER-EU tests aim to identify weaknesses in an entity's security posture across people, processes, and technologies, thereby enabling targeted improvements in protection, detection, and response capabilities.
  • Strengthen Financial Sector Resilience: By fostering greater cyber maturity within critical financial institutions, TIBER-EU helps to fortify the overall resilience of the European financial system.
  • Provide Assurance to Authorities: The consistent and meticulous approach outlined in the TIBER-EU framework provides assurance to regulatory authorities about the cyber resilience capabilities of supervised entities.

How Does TIBER-EU Work?

A TIBER-EU test is a highly collaborative process involving multiple stakeholders:

  • The Entity: The entity being tested (e.g., a bank or financial market infrastructure) defines the critical functions and assets to be included in the scope of the test.
  • Authorities: Competent authorities (such as central banks or financial supervisors) oversee the TIBER-EU process, ensuring adherence to the framework and facilitating mutual recognition of test results.
  • Threat Intelligence Provider (TIP): A specialized organization that analyzes the cyber threat landscape and develops tailored threat intelligence profiles relevant to the entity.
  • Red Team Provider (RTP): A cybersecurity firm with expertise in ethical hacking and offensive security techniques selected to carry out the simulated cyberattack.
  • White Team: A small group within the entity that holds prior knowledge of the test and manages its logistics in coordination with the authorities.
The TIBER-EU test takes place in a controlled environment and follows a structured lifecycle consisting of the following phases:

1. Preparation: The entity, the authorities, and the selected providers collaborate to plan for the test, determine its scope, and align with the TIBER-EU requirements.

2. Threat Intelligence Gathering: The TIP meticulously researches the target entity and its industry to identify relevant threat actors, vulnerabilities, and potential attack vectors.

3. Red Teaming: The RTP uses the threat intelligence to orchestrate a realistic multi-stage attack against the entity's critical functions.

4. Reporting and Remediation: The test results are thoroughly documented in a structured report, highlighting weaknesses, potential improvements, and an action plan for remediation.

The Critical Role of Red Teaming Expertise in TIBER-EU

The success of a TIBER-EU test hinges on the quality of the red teaming execution. Specialized red teaming companies bring several critical advantages to the process:

  • Emulation of Advanced Threat Actors: Expert red teams possess a deep understanding of real-world adversary TTPs. They can leverage this knowledge to accurately emulate sophisticated attackers, including tactics like zero-day exploits, advanced social engineering, and evasion techniques.
  • Tailored Attack Methodology: Seasoned red teams tailor the attack methodology to align precisely with the threat intelligence profile, ensuring the simulation effectively tests the entity's defenses against the most relevant risks.
  • Focus on Impact: The best red teams don't merely exploit vulnerabilities; they focus on demonstrating how those vulnerabilities can lead to the compromise of critical functions and business objectives.
  • Constructive Collaboration: Effective red teams work collaboratively with the entity's blue team (internal security personnel) to facilitate knowledge sharing, real-time learning, and the development of stronger detection and response capabilities.
  • Actionable Reporting: Skilled red teams produce clear, comprehensive, and actionable reports that translate technical findings into business risks and mitigation strategies.

Delivering Precision in TIBER-EU Red Teaming

KPMG has established itself as a leader in TIBER-EU red teaming, demonstrating a proven track record within the cybersecurity industry. Our team possesses the following strengths that make us uniquely suited for the TIBER-EU process:

  • Deep Threat Intelligence Expertise: Our team includes dedicated threat intelligence researchers who meticulously analyze the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. This ensures that our red teaming simulations are continuously aligned with the latest adversary trends, providing a truly realistic test of your organization's defenses.
  • Scenario-Driven Red Teaming: We go beyond traditional vulnerability exploitation. Our red teaming philosophy focuses on emulating plausible multi-stage attack scenarios to demonstrate how threat actors could chain together exploits and tactics to achieve critical business disruption.
  • Experience in relevant industry sectors: Our red teamers have extensive experience working in sectors such as banking, insurance and fintech, enabling us to tailor our approach to the specific technical landscape and regulatory considerations of your industry.
  • Collaborative Partnership: We believe that red teaming works best as a collaborative endeavor. Open communication, knowledge sharing, and active participation with your blue team are woven into our engagement methodology.

Why Clients Trust Us

Clients choose KPMG for our commitment to delivering quality red teaming, with an emphasis on:

  • Integrity and Transparency: We uphold the highest ethical standards throughout the engagement and operate with transparency regarding our findings and our approach.
  • Constructive Feedback Loop: Our focus lies not merely in identifying weaknesses, but in providing tangible, actionable recommendations and collaborating with your team on remediation plans.
  • Long-term Value: Our goal is not to provide a one-time test, but rather to establish a long-term cybersecurity partnership. We are committed to supporting your continuous improvement and enhancing your cyber resilience posture.

Let's Strengthen Your Cyber Resilience Together

By partnering with KPMG, you can confidently approach the TIBER-EU process with assurance. Our expertise, experience, and client-focused approach allow us to deliver a comprehensive red teaming exercise that yields maximum value, helping you to strengthen your cyber defenses and uphold the integrity of your critical functions.

Conclusion: Partnering for Enhanced Cyber Resilience through TIBER-EU

TIBER-EU serves as a cornerstone for strengthening the cyber resilience of critical entities within the European Union. By leveraging expert red teaming companies, organizations can ensure their TIBER-EU testing delivers the most robust and valuable insights possible. Experienced red teams offer a unique combination of advanced technical expertise, tailored attack simulations, and a commitment to collaboration. This holistic approach fosters a deeper understanding of real-world threats, leading to targeted improvements in detection, response, and overall cyber defense capabilities.

By partnering with a specialized red teaming company like ours, entities can confidently enter the TIBER-EU process, knowing they have access to the resources and expertise necessary to achieve optimal results. This, in turn, contributes to a more secure and resilient European financial ecosystem, protecting critical infrastructure and public trust in the digital age.

Mihkel Kukk

Head of Cyber Security
+372 521 4332

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