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Although efforts continue to find autonomous solutions to cybersecurity, some companies believe that the human factor has still been important.

IBM Security announced the formation of IBM X-Force Red, a group of security professionals and ethical hackers whose goal is to help businesses discover vulnerabilities in their computer networks, hardware, and software applications before cybercriminals do.

It is a global team with a network of hundreds of security professionals based in dozens of locations around the world, including the US, the UK, Australia and Japan.

The security testing professionals group bring expertise from across multiple industries like healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing and the public sector. Collectively, they have conducted security tests for the world’s largest brands and governments.

Malicious attacks against corporate assets are on the rise, with 64% more security incidents reported in 2015 than in 2014. As new solutions are brought online, security is often an afterthought.

For example, 33% of companies do not test mobile applications for security vulnerabilities. Attackers looking for the next zero-day exploit constantly scrutinize existing technologies; these technologies require periodic security testing to maintain their integrity.

“Having a machine scan your servers and source code is a great step to help prevent data breaches, but the human element of security testing cannot be overlooked,” said Charles Henderson, Global Head of Security Testing and X-Force Red, IBM Security.

Focus areas are:

Application – Penetration testing and source code review to identify security vulnerabilities in web, mobile, terminal, mainframe, and middleware platforms.

Network – Penetration testing of internal, external, wireless, and other radio frequencies.

Hardware – Verifying the security between the digital and physical realms by testing Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices, point-of-sale (PoS) systems, ATMs, automotive systems, and self-checkout kiosks.

Human – Performing simulations of phishing campaigns, social engineering, ransomware, and physical security violations to determine risks of human behavior.

The group provides security testing services in three models: individual projects, subscription-based testing, and managed testing programs. The subscription model offers significant budget flexibility by pre-allocating testing funds without defining specific testing targets or even test types. Managed testing programs are ideal for organizations without the security staff to determine testing priorities, document remediation requirements, and enforce policies.

All of the models include vulnerability analytics designed to improve the efficiency and impact of security testing programs. This nimble approach gives companies increased elasticity of security spend and powerful testing on demand, including vulnerability assessment and management for the full lifecycle of application and network deployments.