Among the chief concerns for security leaders today is a lack of visibility into risk and threats in the corporate ecosystem. COVID has only exacerbated the issue as organizations of all sizes and in all industries accelerate digital transformation plans in order to enable a mobile workforce. The ecosystem today has become expanded and fragmented due to rapid adoption of cloud and SaaS systems and the shift to a mobile workforce.
There are more opportunities for mistakes and security issues than ever before, and attackers are taking notice. First, by finding new points of entry through home networks and devices. And second, the lockdowns have provided an opportunity to hone their skills and make attacks more sophisticated.
With more endpoints on the network and a higher volume and sophistication of attacks, it’s no surprise that security teams are inundated with alerts. There are too many signals coming in, which obfuscates actual security incidents and takes time away from other critical engineering work.
These factors call for a more streamlined, strategic approach to security visibility and threat detection. At Kudelski Security, we use a four-step framework in order to help security teams gain a 360-degree view of enterprise business security, identify and prioritize relevant risks, and adapt response and monitoring capabilities accordingly.
Step 1: Determine your threat profile and business-specific risks.
First and foremost, to understand your threat profile, you have to understand exactly what’s on your network. It’s especially hard right now as IoT and BYOD has exploded since moving the workforce remote, but the more visibility you have, the better you can control and monitor it.
Similarly, patch management plays a large role in your threat profile. It’s a back-to-basics type of activity, but vulnerable systems are still one of the number one ways for attackers to get into the network. It’s critical to continually assess the status of vulnerable systems and validate that patches have been applied properly.
With a better understanding of your threat profile, you can start to identify your business-specific risks. It’s easy as security leaders to look at the latest cybersecurity news and vulnerabilities and turn our focus to that. What’s more important, however, is to understand where the risks and true threats are for your business and are and get visibility into those specific areas.
Step 2: Understand the 16 known threat categories.
As you begin to execute a threat monitoring practice, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for and why you’re looking for it. A haphazard approach may make your team feel “busy” but won’t necessarily be productive. As part of our client work in our Cyber Fusion Center, we’ve developed 16 threat monitoring use cases and identified associated attacker behavioral patterns in order to help focus and guide monitoring efforts.
Step 3: Outline the required data sources necessary for visibility.
A SIEM or log management platform is only going to be as useful as the data feeding into it. For many companies, installing a SIEM is meant to check a compliance box. For effective threat monitoring, however, you must be intentional about the data you’re collecting. Otherwise, you’re just filling up the SIEM with data that isn’t relevant to your business or the risks you face.
Take a couple of steps back and look at your threat profile and your identified business risks and then determine what type of data you need to collect in the platform. Look at the attacker behavior patterns, so you can identify and address threats before they become an actual indicator of compromise.
Step 4: Expand visibility based on threat models.
The threat landscape is constantly evolving and expanding, which means your security visibility and threat detection capabilities must expand and evolve as well. By having all the right data from the start, analysts, whether in an internal SOC or outsourced through an MSS partner, can fully investigate issues and validate their legitimacy. This reduces the number of alerts being thrown over the fence, so your team can focus response to actual security incidents.
It’s also important to be prepared for the unknown threats happening now or potential issues related to vulnerabilities or new attack vectors. This requires proactively looking for indicators of compromise through threat hunting practices. For example, WMI or PowerShell activity could just be an admin deploying some software or it could be an indicator that a bad actor is attempting to move laterally through the network. Having threat hunting as part of your visibility and monitoring practice, whether internal or outsourced, is incredibly important for preventing future attacks.
Kudelski Security applies this four-step framework for all managed services clients through our Cyber Fusion Center (CFC), a Gartner-recognized service that combines combines use case frameworks, purpose-built tools, and cutting-edge technologies with rich business and contextual data to detect threats faster, respond more effectively, and reduce risk. To request more information about the CFC, contact us here.