Endpoint Detection and Response Tactics Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To enhance the incident response team’s capabilities in detecting and responding to sophisticated cyber threats.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of current endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools and strategies.
  • To train IT security staff in recognizing and mitigating a realistic, multi-staged cyber attack.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced (requires comprehensive understanding of network security, threat detection, and incident response protocols)
  • CyberTech Innovations, a leading fintech company, is renowned for its cutting-edge financial platforms and services. With a large customer base and voluminous sensitive data, it has become a prime target for cyber adversaries. The company employs over 5,000 individuals, with an extensive IT infrastructure comprising hundreds of workstations, numerous servers, and a cloud-based environment.
  • Recent threat intelligence reports indicate that similar organizations in the fintech sector have suffered advanced persistent threats (APTs) resulting in significant data breaches and financial loss. Hence, CyberTech Innovations’ CEO, Jessica Beam, and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Tomás Rivera, decide to proactively counter any such incidents by conducting a thorough cyber range exercise focused specifically on enhancing their EDR tactics.
  • The exercise is designed to simulate an APT group known as “Shadow Cipher,” which employs sophisticated techniques, including spear-phishing, privilege escalation, lateral movement, and data exfiltration. The aim is to ensure that CyberTech’s internal security team can effectively detect, analyze, respond to, and remediate a breach while maintaining business continuity.


  • Cybersecurity Incident Response and Endpoint Threat Detection

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Info-Gathering:
    • The attacker gathers information about employees through social engineering and research on professional networks to prepare for a spear-phishing campaign.
  • Initial Breach:
    • a. A targeted spear-phishing email is sent to a few select employees with high-level access (e.g., senior finance officers).
    • b. The email contains a malicious attachment that exploits a zero-day vulnerability in the office document viewer used within CyberTech Innovations.
  • Establishing Foothold:
    • a. Once an employee opens the attachment, the malware executes, establishing a backdoor for the attackers.
    • b. The system’s defenses (antivirus, firewalls, intrusion detection systems) fail to recognize the zeroday exploit.
  • Privilege Escalation:
    • Using the initial backdoor, the attacker executes code to exploit local vulnerabilities, escalating privileges to administrator level on the compromised endpoint.
  • Lateral Movement:
    • a. With administrator privileges, the attacker moves laterally through the network seeking valuable data and systems.
    • b. Additional endpoints and data servers are compromised with the goal of reaching the financial database.
  • Data Exfiltration:
    • a. Sensitive financial data is identified and packaged.
    • b. Exfiltration occurs through an encrypted channel to the attacker’s command and control server.
  • Detection & Response:
    • a. The security team actively monitors for anomalies, identifies suspicious activity indicative of a compromise, and triggers an alert.
    • b. Forensics tools are employed to analyze the extent and method of the breach.
    • c. The incident response team isolates affected systems, analyzes attack vectors, remediates vulnerabilities, and monitors for further activity.
  • Reflection and Improvement:
    • Post-exercise, the team assesses the effectiveness of their response, updates EDR configurations as needed, and improves company-wide security education to mitigate the risk of future breaches.
This playbook sets the stage for a real-world cyber-attack simulation, aiming to bolster CyberTech Innovations’ defenses against highly skilled adversaries. The exercise underlines the necessity of constant vigilance, continuous improvement in security postures, and the importance of having well-trained personnel equipped with practical experience in responding to cyber incidents.