Compliance and Regulatory Framework Assessment Playbook

December 16, 20235 min read

Playbook Objectives

  • To assess and enhance the company’s readiness and response mechanisms to cyber-attacks.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the current security policies and compliance with relevant regulatory frameworks.
  • To identify weaknesses in the security posture and remediate gaps before actual breaches occur.
  • To provide hands-on experience to the cybersecurity team in handling complex security incidents.
  • To ensure that the company’s security measures align with industry standards and regulations.

Difficulty Level

  • Advanced: Participants will need comprehensive knowledge of cybersecurity defenses, regulatory standards, and forensic analysis to successfully complete the exercise.


  • The exercise takes place at FinSecure Inc., a leading financial services firm, which manages sensitive client data and is subjected to strict regulatory requirements like the GDPR, PCI-DSS, and local financial regulations. A routine audit has recently highlighted minor gaps in their compliance posture. With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats and the implementation of new privacy legislations, the executive team has mandated a comprehensive review and improvement of their cyber defenses.
  • A scenario is crafted around an advanced persistent threat (APT) group, known as DireWolf, who have launched a stealthy campaign to infiltrate FinSecure Inc.’s network, primarily targeting their cloud-based data storage systems and internal communication platforms. DireWolf utilizes a combination of social engineering, zero-day exploits, and custom malware to compromise systems and exfiltrate sensitive data.
  • The attack begins with a spear-phishing campaign aimed at the finance department, where an email impersonating a well-known financial software vendor is used to deploy malware on the recipient’s device. From there, the attackers leverage lateral movement techniques to gain deeper access into the network infrastructure. Their end goal is to obtain privileged credentials that grant them access to the cardholder data environment (CDE) and client personal data, causing significant regulatory concern.
  • The company must utilize the Cyber Range exercise to detect and respond to this attack, aiming to mitigate the breach while maintaining compliance with regulatory frameworks.


  • Incident Response and Handling
  • Compliance and Regulatory Framework Assessment
  • Advanced Persistent Threat Management
  • Data Protection and Privacy

Exercise Attack Steps

  • Initial Reconnaissance:
    • Attackers conduct online reconnaissance, identifying key employees in the finance department to target.
    • Social engineering profiles are developed for effective phishing.
  • Spear-Phishing Attack:
    • A crafted email with a malicious attachment is sent to the selected employees.
    • The malware used in the attachment is engineered to bypass traditional antivirus solutions.
  • Internal Network Compromise:
    • Once the malware is executed, it establishes a backdoor for the attackers, giving them initial foothold into the network.
    • Attackers move laterally, seeking out systems with vulnerabilities for further exploitation.
  • Privilege Escalation:
    • Compromising accounts with higher privileges, the attackers gain access to more sensitive systems.
    • Attackers attempt to locate and decrypt credential stores.
  • Data Access and Exfiltration:
    • Targeting the cloud-based data storage systems, attackers exploit vulnerabilities to access sensitive CDE and PII.
    • Encrypted data is exfiltrated to external command and control servers controlled by DireWolf.
  • Forensic Analysis and Regulatory Assessment:
    • Participants must then conduct forensic analysis to understand the breadth of the breach.
    • A thorough gap analysis is done in relation to compliance standards like the GDPR and PCI-DSS.
  • Incident Response and Mitigation:
    • The incident response team is tasked with containing the breach, eradicating the attackers’ presence, and recovering affected systems.
    • Updates to institutional policies and procedures are introduced to prevent similar breaches, ensuring regulatory compliance.
  • Post-Exercise Review:
    • A detailed walkthrough of the attack scenario and the team’s response is conducted to glean lessons learned.
    • An examination of the responses is carried out to evaluate their adequacy in maintaining compliance amid the cyber-attack.
Through this Cyber Range exercise, FinSecure Inc. aims to bolster its defense against sophisticated cyber threats, ensure unwavering adherence to strict industry compliance standards, and build a resilient and well-prepared cybersecurity team.