Secure Application Deployment Playbook

December 17, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To assess the company’s capability to securely deploy applications within their network.
  • To identify and remediate potential weaknesses in the application deployment process.
  • To ensure that the incident response team is well-trained and prepared for real-life cyber-attack scenarios.
  • To comply with industry standards and increase the stakeholders’ confidence in the security posture of the company’s applications and systems.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced


  • Company Name: FinTechSecure Inc.
  • Background: FinTechSecure Inc., a leading company in the financial technology sector, offers innovative banking solutions to clients across the globe. With a vast network comprising cloud systems, multiple data centers, and office networks in over 30 countries, the security of application deployment is paramount.
  • Story: The company recently decided to launch a cutting-edge mobile banking application, aiming to provide enhanced features to its customers. However, prior to the deployment, the executive team was made aware of a series of high-profile breaches affecting similar corporations in the industry. These incidents were the result of sophisticated attackers exploiting weaknesses during the application deployment phase such as misconfigured servers, incomplete security checks, and poor secret management.
  • The Cyber Range Exercise: In response, FinTechSecure Inc.’s CISO has mandated a comprehensive cyber range exercise to simulate an attack targeting the deployment phase of the new application. This exercise is designed to test and improve their defenses, incident response procedures, and remediation strategies before going live with the application.
  • Objective: By running this lab exercise, the company aims to:
    • Ensure that the deployment scripts are free from vulnerabilities.
    • Validate the effectiveness of the pre-deployment security checklists.
    • Test the incident response team’s ability to respond to and mitigate a breach swiftly.
    • Reinforce secure deployment practices among the IT and development teams.


  • Application Security
  • Secure Deployment Practices

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Preparation:
    • Set up a simulated production-like environment replicating FinTechSecure Inc.’s deployment system for the new application.
    • Populate the environment with dummy data that mimics real customer information and transactions.
  • Initial Compromise:
    • An attacker, simulated by a red team member, gains initial access by exploiting a misconfigured API endpoint that was inadvertently exposed to the internet during pre-deployment testing.
  • Privilege Escalation:
    • The red team leverages the compromised endpoint to escalate privileges by exploiting a known vulnerability in the underlying virtual machine hosting the application.
  • Lateral Movement:
    • Now with higher privileges, the red team moves laterally within the network attempting to reach the application deployment server.
  • Deployment Compromise:
    • Using spear-phishing techniques, the red team targets a junior DevOps engineer to gain access to deployment scripts.
    • Once in control of the scripts, the red team embeds malicious code designed to create a backdoor during the application’s deployment.
  • Exfiltration:
    • The red team simulates the exfiltration of sensitive data through the compromised deployment process by sending dummy data to an external command and control server.
  • Discovery and Mitigation:
    • The blue team, representing the company’s incident response unit, monitors the network and system logs for any unusual activities.
    • Detection tools trigger alerts, and the blue team must quickly investigate the nature of the compromise.
    • The blue team contains the breach by isolating affected systems, removing compromised accounts, and deploying emergency patches.
  • Post-Exercise Analysis:
    • A thorough post-mortem analysis is conducted to understand the attack vectors and to reassess the secure application deployment protocols.
    • The team revises the secure deployment playbook to address the identified weaknesses.
    • Training sessions are conducted to ensure that all relevant personnel is updated with new secure deployment measures.