What Is Adversary Emulation?

Adversary emulation is the cybersecurity equivalent of asking your friends to try and break into your house in order for you to identify vulnerable areas in your home’s defenses. In cybersecurity, it is common practice to have a third party gauge your organization’s security posture by simulating a real world threat actor and applying similarly employed tactics, techniques, and procedures towards the organization.
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How does Adversary Emulation work?

An engagement is a very structured and methodical process which always starts out with contacting key stakeholders and company leadership and getting their buy-in. Subsequently, obtaining all the approval needed from the organization’s legal team to ensure guardrails are in place for any unexpected outcomes. With this in place, the engagement simply follows a written and approved Rules of Engagement plan and SOW outlined by all parties.

The Importance of Adversary Emulation

Cybersecurity is just as much a plane in warfare as anything else now. Therefore is must be treated as such and this means practicing like you play. In order to defend your organization you must learn how to view it through the lens of a malicious actor. You cannot achieve insight through traditional security tools, practices, or frameworks.
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Who should you conduct an Adversary Emulation engagement?

Ideally? Everyone. Realistically however, Adversary Emulation is most effective for organizations who already have a decent Blue Team structure in place. Specifically, one that is at a point where monitoring active, and alerting and detection logic are ready to be battle tested. The value of an engagement exists on many levels, however, it is maximized when your organization is ready to assess their detection and response capabilities against real threat behaviour.

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Who really are the stakeholders? This is an important question to have answered first and foremost and most likely will be the system and business owners of the infrastructure under assessment. But this is usually made evident by whomever would be implementing the changes recommended by assessment.


A Red Team’s primary deliverable is a well-written report, containing both a low-level technical synopsis and an executive summary. It details a triaged list of findings with all steps necessary for reproducing all findings, and recommended steps for mitigating and remediating them Lastly the engagement includes a final report readout in which engineers and leadership can ask questions.


  • Adversary-informed insight into your organization’s security posture
  • An assessment which can be used to satisfy SLAs, Regulatory, Certification, or G&C requirements
  • Gap analysis in processes, workflows, security controls
  • Ability to make more impactful budgetary decisions that work for the company and leadership
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