Cyber Security Innovation

Security Analytics: How to Discover and Prioritise Real Threats

Security Analytics solutions have expanded from rules-based detection to include data science methods such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.  This is in response to environmental factors such as growing data volumes, infrastructure complexity and the scarcity of skilled security professionals.  In this blog we’ll look at what Security Analytics is, its key capabilities and how the technology can better protect your organisation and keep your staff informed.

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SIEM Product Selection Criteria in 2018

When it’s time to evaluate the best Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) product for your business, the decision on which platform best suits your needs should look beyond core functionality, such as security event log collection and correlation, rather you should evaluate its additional capabilities and integrations since the broader the functionality the more chance you’ll have of catching attackers on your network.

Looking beyond basic SIEM Functionality

Modern security operations centres (SOC) have refocused their attention from a purely network centric view to proactive cyber threat management. Technology platforms are supporting this by integrating a variety of capabilities together and relying on threat intelligence and ingestion of security events from networks, endpoints and applications to catch attackers much earlier in the kill chain.

The SIEM is the most commonly deployed technology platform in a SOC since it offers the most fundamental capability a SOC needs – continuous protective monitoring of log sources across the enterprise. The reality is that event monitoring has been at the heart of SOC services for decades, but today’s attackers are much more sophisticated and sneaky than they have ever been before, which has led to a notable reduction in detection rates where event logging and correlation are the only services provided.

Organisations continue to purchase and deploy traditional SIEMs, with a tacit understanding that they cannot do without its core functionality. Yet the additional insight the SOC requires to protect the business can only be derived from systems that incorporate threat intelligence and advanced attack profiling, automated incident response, and weave in behavioural analysis to detect unusual activity that could be missed under normal SOC monitoring circumstances. This evolved SIEM is commonly known as Security Analytics (SA), SIM 2.0 or next-generation SIM. 

Proactive Threat Hunting

Atop the core capabilities of basic event monitoring and correlation, technology selection should be based on understanding the business problems you are trying to solve. For example, if you are a critical infrastructure operator, you’ll likely have an Operational Technology (OT) network, so your SOC capability should be extended to monitor that side of the business as well as traditional IT networks. You’ll have a different threat model and different attacks to respond to, since OT networks are harder to monitor (due to limited bandwidth and legacy equipment). Furthermore, the risk to OT networks is different, since most attacks affecting OT systems relate to integrity and availability rather than confidentiality.

No matter what the context, the SIEM needs to integrate with all your business technologies and collect logs from as many different log sources as possible, such as standalone SCADA systems, specialist management applications and even text files if that’s where proprietary applications store operational logs.

In many cases, attackers will use a combination of tools and techniques that allow them to remain undetected by traditional SIEM technology.  Therefore user behavioural anomaly detection has become another important tool in the SOC’s toolkit. If you can profile what normal looks like on your network, or what normal user interaction with an application looks like, you can set thresholds that, if breached, raise an alert within the SOC. It might be that the system is still performing normally, but is under abnormal loading, which might be for a legitimate reason, but it also worth investigating.

Architecture Scalability

The last feature we’ll consider in SIEM selection is scalability. It goes without saying that your chosen solution needs to meet your current business requirements, but it should also be able to scale to meet future growth or change. If your company has a cloud-first strategy, where new systems must be deployed in the public cloud, you will still need to be able to collect, process and correlate security event logs and monitor user behaviour.

Some SIEM providers have a flexible model that works both on premise and in the cloud, so that’s a good place to start. However, you need to look at how integrated the cloud capability is, since running in the cloud doesn’t guarantee it can see the logs below the infrastructure layer it’s deployed in. Take, for example, a SIEM system deployed into Amazon’s AWS. Amazon will provide robust security around the outside of the container they provide to you, but the security of the systems inside the containers remains each customer’s own responsibility.

If you have cloud systems today or cloud ambitions in the future, then you need to consider the following:

  • Do you require multi tenancy?
  • Do you need full visibility of security logs created in the cloud?
  • Do you need to collect logs from IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services (each layer of the cloud model)?
  • Do you need to rapidly scale up within the cloud environment?
  • Do you want a pricing model that scales up and down on demand?

Each of those questions should be answered prior to selecting your vendor, since the SOC model you require can change dramatically when you factor in cloud services.  It may well be more beneficial to run your SOC as a virtual SOC in the cloud, alongside the rest of your infrastructure, rather than maintaining on-premise security technology that must collect logs remotely.

SIEM in the modern world

In a landscape where security teams have to manage more information and more complexity, while at the same time remain efficient, it is clear that you and your team need more context, greater insights and automation.

When you’re next reviewing your SIEM requirements, make sure you look up to the horizon at Security Analytics… the next-generation SIM.

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Real-time Auditing of your Security Controls

Cyber threat actors are continually innovating in an attempt to bypass modern cyber security controls. Security systems must adapt at the same rate or faster to ward off this evolving threat, otherwise the criminals will eventually win. Organisations often rely on annual security reviews to assess their ongoing security posture, identifying deviations from an approved control set that leave them at risk. Nevertheless, security managers also require the means to monitor their organisation’s security posture in real-time, since waiting for the annual audit leaves them blind to non-compliances prior to the review. Let’s look at how key security controls can be continually monitored to provide a level of assurance that’s otherwise impossible to achieve.

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Measuring Cyber Risk: A Security Scorecard with Continuous Visibility

“If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

Whether you are a senior executive or part of a risk and compliance audit team, you need to have visibility of your organisation’s cyber security posture. Understanding vulnerabilities using a security scorecard will allow your organisation to accept the risk or put in place an action plan for improvement.

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Threat Hunting – Shifting Security Operations up a Gear

Security teams have relied on signature-based threat detection since the earliest days of the Internet, however, signatures alone have been for some time considered second best to a more intelligence based approach to fighting cybercrime. Threat hunting is the new discipline that’s giving SOC teams an edge over attackers.

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RSA Conference 2018 – The Key Cyber Security Priorities

This year’s RSA conference in San Francisco felt somewhat schizophrenic, with two distinct personalities coming through. The wise voice of reason came through first, suggesting vulnerability management and risk management should be our focus, while the younger more contemporary voice of progressive thinking pitched artificial intelligence and machine learning as the cure for all that ails us. Both are key cyber security priorities.

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Cyber Security professionals: How to build a sustainable team using automation

No one can deny that cyber security professionals are in high demand. Mounting pressure to fill large numbers of vacancies in the industry is seeing under-qualified and inexperienced candidates landing well-paid jobs because no one else is available. In parallel, a rise in demand for cyber security training is seeing people from all walks of life retraining to secure positions in the sector; some with little or no experience.  These scenarios will cause serious problems for our industry in the future as we seek to match wits with our cyber adversaries.

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Security Analytics – Hype v Reality

Forrester Research’s report: Top 13 Technology Trends S&R Pros Should Watch 2016 opened with a troubling statement:  

“Selecting security solutions has never been more difficult.”

https://www.forrester.com/report/Top+13+Technology+Trends+SR+Pros+Should+Watch+2016/-/E-RES123921

Why is this the case? Are security vendors’ marketing messages too complex? Are threats being overstated?  Or is it that the cyber security problem is just too hard to solve? Understanding your organisation and its security requirements is fundamental to success. Let’s take a look at the issue and suggest a better way of analysing the problem, hopefully making life easier for cyber risk owners.

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Trustworthy automation is the key to operational cyber security

The success of a modern cyber security operations centre (SOC) is only possible with the right balance of systems, people and culture. Cyber security analysts need to work as a team, leveraging strengths and supporting weaknesses to deliver the best security outcomes. Furthermore, technology must be adaptable to the business’s environment, allowing automated processes to underpin analysts’ activities.

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