Many times over the years I’ve been impressed with the creativity of different attack techniques. The ingenuity—and sometimes sheer simplicity—of some attacks leads me to wonder just what those individuals could accomplish if they used their skills for good instead of evil. Nevertheless, attackers continue to adapt and develop innovative new ways to subvert or circumvent your defenses.
It’s not always about keeping the bad guys out, either. There is no such thing as an invulnerable network and there’s a good chance an attack will get through your defenses at some point. In that situation, though, the key to minimizing the impact of that attack and avoid becoming the next big data breach headline is your threat detection and response ability. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Are you prepared to protect your network and data?”
There are plenty of cybersecurity solutions out there designed to help you detect and identify threats, but they’re not all created equal. Choosing the right tool is a challenge, but there are a handful of simple strategies that will help you detect and avoid threats more effectively.
1. Insist on Comprehensive Visibility
I’ll let you in on a simple fact—one of “Tony’s truisms”—you cannot effectively protect servers, applications, data, or any other asset if you don’t know it exists. Imagine implementing a home security system—top of the line locks on all of your doors and windows, security cameras, a monitored alarm system—but there is a door on the side of your house that you didn’t know about and it is unlocked and wide open. That’s how network and cloud security work without comprehensive visibility.
2. Get Proactive About Vulnerability Management
You should assess your environment and fix any vulnerabilities or weaknesses before an attacker finds them and exploits them. Zero day threats and sophisticated attacks make for sexy headlines, but the reality is that most of the biggest attacks—the ones that exposed companies to the most risk and resulted in the most damage—were against known vulnerabilities for which a patch already existed. An effective vulnerability assessment and patch management strategy would have prevented them.
3. Step Back and Look at the Big Picture
Effective threat detection is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle—except you just have some random pieces and you don’t have the box the puzzle came in so you don’t know what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like. If you just look at one piece of the puzzle, you will never figure it out. But, if you start to combine the pieces you have, you will start to understand what the big picture is. You have to look at all of your security information holistically rather than analyzing each one on its own.
4. Leverage Machine Learning to Augment Your Humans
Some attacks are obvious to the naked eye. However, many attacks are more insidious—deployed in stages across different systems and services in ways that don’t appear malicious in and of themselves. Effective detection of these threats is a function of pattern recognition and the ability to analyze and correlate seemingly separate information. Today’s networks—particularly cloud environments—are exceptionally dynamic and volatile. Machine learning is essential to analyze the volume of information and identify potential threats you didn’t even know you were looking for.
5. Amp Up Your Cybersecurity Skills and Expertise
Some threat detection and cloud security tools are better than others, but none of them are the proverbial “silver bullet” solution that will just magically work. A tool like a SIEM has the potential to address many of the issues that need to be identified and resolved, but a SIEM solution is often expensive on its own and requires security expertise to properly tune and monitor it. A managed detection and response (MDR) service is a simpler, and more cost-effective solution that provides the skill and expertise you need—delivered as a service—so you can focus on innovating and growing your business.
The threat landscape is constantly and rapidly evolving. New technologies will come along, and attackers will develop creative new ways to exploit them. Regardless of how things change, though, these five fundamentals will be essential for effective threat detection. To learn more about why an MDR is a simpler, more cost-effective choice than a SIEM, join us on Tuesday, May 22 at 11am Eastern time for a webinar titled “Is a SIEM Solution Right for Your Business?”