Don’t just focus on malware, add network monitoring for comprehensive protection

December 17, 2015 Arctic Wolf Networks

With cybersecurity issues constantly making the news and clogging up everyone's newsfeeds, it can be easy to oversimplify a complex issue. There are varying degrees of cyberattacks that can stem from a wide range of causes. However, many times the discussion about cybersecurity is boiled down to simply being a war on malware, often to the detriment of the companies trying to protect their systems. Focusing solely on preventing cyberattacks and removing malware that may have made its way onto an enterprise system ignores the bigger and more frequent threat to businesses: targeted data breaches.

Targeted data breaches are what caused many of the most notorious hacks in the business world, including those that took place at Target, Home Depot and Sony Pictures. Malware isn't required for cybercriminals to carry out a targeted breach, and if it is used, it is often leveraged as a distraction device rather than the main method of attack, according to Dark Reading contributor Giora Engel.

"Attackers will engineer their way inside a network with or without malware, and once inside they are more apt to use utilities, a command line interface, and other administrative functions to progress the data breach," explained Engel.

Malware detection and removal is obviously a necessary part of any successful enterprise defense system, but a wider range of solutions are required to achieve comprehensive network protection. In a targeted data breach, attackers bypass prevention technologies, meaning the systems put in place to deal with malware will not be able to detect the hacker, even if malware is being used. Most of the activity surrounding such a breach will be reconnaissance, allowing the cybercriminal to understand the network better, as well as lateral movements that let the intruders get closer to sensitive files.

In order to avoid the mistake of focusing too much on just malware infections, companies need to spend more time on breach detection activities that may point to signs of an attacker. Conducting continuous behavior analysis of all endpoints, as opposed to sandboxing and detecting indicators of compromise. Sandboxing only provides detection for malware, and IOCs identify signatures of known malware, leaving enterprises without the additional capabilities to detect other types of malicious behavior. Network monitoring tools provide an extra level of protection and a more robust defense strategy.

Enhancing enterprise security with behavioral analysis
Behavioral analysis of computer networks, what some refer to as big data cybersecurity, allows businesses to understand what their endpoints are being used for and who is doing it. It also provides a baseline for normal behavior so IT administrators can be alerted when something irregular occurs. There are a variety of benefits offered by behavioral analysis tools.

  • Know who's on the network: Trying to determine whether a user is malicious or not can cost a company precious moments when working to mitigate a data breach. Behavioral analysis allows organizations to monitor how users access their networks and compare usage patterns to credentialed behavior monitoring to identify risks.
  • Be better prepared for human error: At some point, every company will experience a security issue accidentally caused by one of their employees. However, these mistakes can sometimes be viewed as the act of a malicious outsider, wasting valuable time and resources. Utilizing behavioral tools like security information and event management services provides organizations with a third-party opinion in such scenarios by identifying miscalculations and common human error.
  • Reduce the occurrence of false positives: According to research conducted by security firm Exabeam, for every 100,000 events and IT environment experiences, only about 100 are actually malicious, leaving 99,900 innocuous occurrences that security staff have to deal with. Instead of having the IT department spend its time looking at harmless events, SIEM solutions use benign events to understand what is normal behavior for a system and gain context for what defines an abnormal situation.
  • Save time and improve productivity: Because behavioral analysis can understand what is considered normal, identify anomalies and follow malicious actors across IP switches, such systems can help IT departments to prioritize the hundreds of thousands of alerts they get on a daily basis.
  • Gain a better understanding of attack chains: There is a common misconception that attackers steal data from enterprise networks the moment they gain access, but recent research suggests that many cybercriminals spend weeks or even months on corporate networks to gain a better understanding of their target. This behavior is often missed because it is perceived as normal. Network monitoring and behavioral analysis tools enable businesses to detect and intrusions and stop data breaches before they even begin.

Improved protection with FireBreak
For businesses looking to enhance their cybersecurity strategies by adding a SIEM service, FireBreak from ArcticWolf is the most reliable solution available. Along with offering increased security, knowledgeable FireBreak experts perform all the necessary monitoring so internal IT departments can focus on other business-critical functions. Additionally, the service is available as an all-inclusive subscription, so there are no costly up-front fees that put a major dent in security budgets. ArcticWolf is an industry leader in network threat detection, and FireBreak allows any organization to access that wealth of information for their own benefit.

Cybersecurity news and analysis brought to you by ArcticWolf, inventors of firebreak detection and response security services. FireBreak, when your firewall fails.

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