Rob Pocock, Technology Director at Red Helix, explores how cyber security teams can guard against the rising tide of cyber threats.

Over just six months the number of reported cyber-dependent crime incidents in the UK rose by over 20%. As AI continues to lower the barrier to entry for criminals, that number will likely grow even faster over the next two years.

We’re no longer facing a flood of cyber attacks. We’re facing a tsunami. And as we prepare our defences for the colossal wave of threats heading our way, we can take inspiration from the early-warning detection systems used to protect against tsunamis.

Backed by a robust communications infrastructure, these systems harness a network of sensors to detect and verify the threat before issuing timely alarms. Local authorities can notify those at risk in advance and preparations can be made to prevent loss of life and damage to property.

Similarly, in cyber security, Threat Detection and Response (TDR) systems can help identify threats early and mitigate any potential damage. They too utilise effective communications and a network of ‘sensors’ to alert security professionals of any irregularities requiring their attention.

However, for TDR systems to be effective against the current surge of threats, security teams much introduce them as part of an integrated mesh architecture.

Modern security for modern infrastructure

For many years, organisations protected themselves against cyber attacks by establishing defensive measures around a defined perimeter, such as their company intranets. Defences typically comprised of firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems. While these are still important tools for defending private networks against outside threats, in today’s digital world they are no longer enough.

Businesses have been rapidly transferring processes and storage to cloud networks. This, combined with the rise in remote working and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, has all but dissolved the perimeter that traditional security measures were designed to shield. As companies move assets off-premises, security teams must extend controls into all systems where data is stored.

This once again draws parallels with the tsunami early-warning systems. A sensor on the coastline (the defined perimeter) will still provide a tsunami warning, but it is unlikely that you will be able to do anything about it when it’s already at your door. However, placing a sensor further out at sea provides more advanced notice. The sensor can prompt people to take action before the wave reaches the shore.

Likewise, when properly integrated, TDR can extend security monitoring across your entire IT infrastructure, including third-party applications. This helps security teams detect and respond to threats earlier and greatly reduces the amount of damage they can cause.

Extended visibility with TDR

An effectively integrated TDR collects, aggregates, and analyses security data from various tools to provide comprehensive, accurate threat detection in real-time. It simplifies the approach, while providing greater visibility across on-premises and cloud environments. Achieving this requires focusing on three cyber security solutions at once.

First is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), a security solution used to monitor endpoints – i.e., computers, tablets, phones etc – and detect and investigate any potential threats. It uses data analytics to identify suspicious network activity. When it detects suspicious activity, it blocks any malicious actions and alerts security teams.

The second solution is Network Detection and Response (NDR) which, as the name suggests, executes a similar task but at the network level. It uses AI, machine learning and behavioural analytics to monitor traffic. This then allows it to establish a baseline of activity. The NDR solution can then measure activity agains the benchmar to track malicious or anomalous activity.

Finally, at the heart of this approach is Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM). It collects and analyses the data from your EDR and NDR solutions, along with additional security logs, and provides a central view of all potential threats.

Combining these three solutions results in an extended detection and response (XDR) system that reduces false positive alerts, provides better threat identification, and offers greater visibility over network assets. It also presents security teams with contextually rich, triangulated cases assembled from a unique set of high-fidelity detections across multiple layers – giving them the detailed information required to prepare a more effective and timely response.

The implementation and management of XDR systems can be a time consuming and resource intensive process, but it has become an increasingly important part of modern cyber security.

Early warning for a better response

In the face of an escalating cyber tsunami, spurred on by the advanced capabilities of AI, the need for security measures that transcend traditional defences has never been more critical. To quickly identify threats outside the traditional security perimeter, businesses need access to detailed information showing which actions to take.

Much like how tsunami early-warning systems pull together various signals to identify and verify a potential threat, a well-integrated XDR can achieve this by collating data from numerous touchpoints. This further enhances visibility across the entire IT infrastructure, allowing security teams to respond swiftly and effectively to any potential attack.

Ultimately, the evolution of the threat landscape demands an equally dynamic and proactive approach to security. Businesses will be better prepared and more resilient to the ever-growing wave of threats by embracing the principles of early detection, comprehensive monitoring and integrated response mechanisms.

  • Cybersecurity

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