Offensive assessments – i.e., penetration testing, adversary emulation, red teaming – have become a key component of maintaining a secure network. Unfortunately, offensive assessments require significant resources, and can vary in quality and structure based on who specifically is conducting the assessment. In the past few years, we’ve seen people try to remedy this problem by creating automated offensive assessment tools, but the capabilities and goals of these tools are highly variable, and many either require personnel to manage them or lack the ability to conduct dynamic or end-to-end tests.
We believe that automated offensive assessments can be done better using automated planning. One of the older branches of AI, automated planning seeks to solve problems where an autonomous agent must determine how to compose a sequence of actions together to achieve an objective. Problems in this space can range from constructing offline deterministic plans, to planning under probabilistic conditions, or to planning in scenarios where the world and underlying model are un- or partially-known. Planning techniques have been applied to solve problems in a variety of domains, including controlling unmanned vehicles and designing intelligent agents in computer games.
In this talk, we’ll describe how we’ve leveraged concepts from the automated planning community to help us design CALDERA, a free, open source automated adversary emulation system. Using these concepts, CALDERA dynamically strings techniques – taken from MITRE ATT&CK™ – together to achieve objectives and conduct end-to-end tests. In addition to describing CALDERA itself, we’ll also discuss more generally some of the challenges and advantages of deploying automated planning to automated offensive assessments, discussing alternate approaches that we as well as others have considered in tackling this problem. Attendees should walk away with both an understanding of how they can use CALDERA as well as how planning can be used for automated offensive assessments.