Cyber attacks are not only increasing in frequency but also in sophistication. Adversaries leverage advanced tactics and techniques that constantly evolve. In this arms race, the MITRE ATT&CK framework has emerged as a vital tool for cybersecurity professionals, providing a structured knowledge base of real-world adversary behaviors. This article will explore why testing cyber threats using MITRE ATT&CK is a much more efficient and possibly, more effective way to test and tune the resilience of an organization’s security controls to key known cyber threats.

Utilizing ATT&CK, security teams can emulate known attacks to proactively test their defenses, discover vulnerabilities, and optimize their security posture before a breach occurs.

What is the MITRE ATT&CK Framework?

The MITRE ATT&CK framework is a globally accessible knowledge base that documents the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by threat actors across various stages of an attack lifecycle. Its structured categories include:

  • Tactics: The “why” or specific goals of an adversary (e.g., gaining Initial Access, executing Persistence, achieving Exfiltration).
  • Techniques: The “how” an adversary achieves a tactical goal (e.g., Phishing, Exploiting Public-Facing Applications).

ATT&CK is continuously updated, keeping pace with the ever-changing threat landscape. Cybersecurity professionals rely on this framework as a common language to communicate and improve their threat defense strategies.

Why Use MITRE ATT&CK for Cyber Threat Testing?

  • Identify Security Gaps: Simulating known attacker behaviors based on the ATT&CK framework allows teams to proactively expose weaknesses in their defenses they might otherwise miss.
  • Validation of Security Controls: Security teams can assess the efficacy of tools such as endpoint detection and response (EDR), security information and event management (SIEM), firewalls, and threat intelligence platforms.
  • Prioritize Remediation: ATT&CK testing results shed light on critical vulnerabilities, helping teams prioritize patching and configuration changes.
  • Measure Security Improvements: Measuring progress over time is possible by conducting routine ATT&CK-based tests and comparing baseline assessments with the improved defense posture.

On a more profound level, the MITRE ATT&CK framework has shown that there are in fact, only a limited and defined number of ways in which a Microsoft Windows or Linux environment can be compromised and that specific threat actors typically only use a fraction of those methods and techniques in their modi operandi.

In the screenshot below, showing the MITRE Techniques employed by the top 10 Ransomware threat actors, you can see that they commonly use very specific methods and techniques to gain initial access to an environment, execute their malware, elevate privilege, move laterally across the organization, etc.

If one were to regularly test whether these methods and techniques could be manipulated by unauthorized parties without being detected or blocked, you could put measures in place to harden and re-configure controls to restrict the use of these features and to enhance detection capabilities.

A major efficiency and cyber defense gain can be achieved by testing cyber threats using MITRE ATT&CK as any remediation efforts to harden high risk MITRE ATT&CK Techniques from unauthorized exploitation will remain effective against any threats that use the same Techniques.

How to Test Threats Using MITRE ATT&CK

  1. Align with Your Organization: Focus on ATT&CK TTPs most relevant to your organization’s specific industry, threat actors, and technology assets.
  2. Utilize Threat Intelligence: Gather information about recent attack campaigns and prevalent TTPs to drive testing prioritization.
  3. Choose Testing Tools: Choose methods best suited for your needs:
    • Manual Adversary Emulation: Requires skilled red teams with advanced knowledge and resources to recreate sophisticated attacks.
    • Automated Breach & Attack Simulation (BAS): Efficient platforms that continuously and autonomously execute safe attack simulations across your environment.

Validato: Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) Powered by MITRE ATT&CK

Validato’s BAS platform enables security teams to safely and continuously simulate MITRE ATT&CK techniques aligned with specific threat scenarios and objectives. Validato’s key features:

  • Automation: Automate testing across your network, endpoints, and cloud, replicating realistic attacker steps and identifying high priority areas to focus security hardening efforts on.
  • Based on MITRE and CISA best practice: The platform seamlessly allows IT and Security teams to implement best practice and recommended methods for testing cyber threats as outlined by MITRE and CISA.
  • Actionable Reports: Provides detailed reports with clear insights and recommendations for improving defense mechanisms.
  • Continuous Evolution: The BAS platform adapts to the latest ATT&CK framework updates, keeping your tests aligned with current threats.


Testing cyber threats using MITRE ATT&CK provides actionable insights into improving your organization’s defense mechanisms. Breach and Attack Simulation tools like Validato streamline this process, allowing for continuous validation to strengthen your security posture. In this proactive approach lies the key to staying ahead of ever-evolving threat actors.

Read our whitepaper

If this article has peaked your interests, why not download our whitepaper on Testing Cyber Threats using MITRE ATT&CK, here.

Are you ready to improve your cyber threat testing? Schedule a demo of Validato’s BAS platform to see how it can empower your security team. Book a demo here.