Threat Detection and Modern Response Methods

Feb 12, 2024

Keeping your business secure often relies on two main factors – how you detect threats and how you respond to them. In order to protect your assets, you need to have very specific answers to both of those questions. While using several predefined methods was enough not long ago to keep you safe, you need a much more intricate line of defense nowadays. Threats are becoming more sophisticated, and the attack surface of organizations is expanding. Let’s take a look at some of the details.

Threat detection

Most businesses hire IT professionals and expect them to know everything about everything when it comes to technology. To their credit, most IT experts are extremely capable and manage to keep their organizations safe despite the odds. But no one can know everything. Cyber security is a vast topic, and with all the recent developments of smarter-than-man AI technologies, regular IT staff are often fighting an uneven battle. However, they have the option to use an ally in the face of outsourced Security Operations Centers.

Old methods of threat detection

Until recently, threat detection followed a fairly simple playbook that worked for most:

Signature-based detection

This method relies on a database of known threat signatures or patterns (such as virus definitions) to identify malware or attacks. While effective against known threats, it struggles to detect new, unknown, or modified attacks.

Manual log analysis

Traditional log analysis involves manually reviewing logs from various systems and network devices to identify anomalies or suspicious activities. This process is time-consuming and heavily dependent on the expertise of the security analyst.

Periodic scans

Scheduled and periodic scans for vulnerabilities or malware are common, which could leave gaps between scans for attackers to exploit.

Static rule-based detection

Using predefined rules to identify threats, this method can be effective for known attack vectors but lacks the flexibility to adapt to new or evolving threats.

While those methods have been used for a long time with variable success rates, they are heavily dependent on a number of error-prone factors and cover only a fraction of the attack vectors used by experienced hackers and threat actors nowadays. With the emergence of new, more autonomous, and sophisticated cyber threats, a new approach to cyber security was needed. Over the last few years, new techniques have been developed to counter those new threats.

Modern real-time monitoring capabilities

Behavioral analysis

Unlike signature-based detection, behavioral analysis focuses on the behavior of software or network activity to identify malicious actions, even if the specific threat has never been seen before. This method can detect zero-day attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Automated real-time log analysis

Modern solutions automate the log analysis process, using machine learning and artificial intelligence to sift through the massive volumes of your data in real-time, identifying anomalies and potential threats much more efficiently than manual analysis.

Continuous vulnerability scanning

Instead of periodic scans, continuous vulnerability scanning tools actively monitor for new vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and security gaps, providing immediate alerts when issues are detected.

Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR)

SOAR platforms integrate various security tools and automate responses to detected threats, reducing the time from detection to response and allowing for handling of incidents at scale.

Threat intelligence platforms (TIPs)

These platforms gather data from various sources, including open-source intelligence, forums, and dark web sources, to provide real-time insights into emerging threats and help organizations stay ahead of attackers.

In the hands of experienced professionals, those threat monitoring methods are a solid bulwark that adds both preventive and protective capabilities to safeguard your operations and data.

Incident response

The shift from traditional to modern threat detection methods reflects the need to adapt to an ever-changing threat landscape, where threats are becoming more sophisticated, and the attack surface of organizations is expanding. Leveraging real-time monitoring and advanced technologies enables more effective detection and faster response, ultimately reducing the risk and impact of cyber threats.

Regardless, security incidents can happen, even in the most secure environments. How you respond to those incidents might be the difference between your business suffering a considerable loss in both funds and reputation or neutralizing and minimizing their impact before they manage to hurt you.

The good old 1-10-60

Depending on the situation, there are a number of ways to respond to a security incident. One specific rule has been a long-time benchmark in cyber defense. The 1-10-60 rule states that an organization should be able to detect threats within 1 minute, investigate within 10 minutes, and contain and eliminate the threat within 60 minutes. It sets a high standard for rapid response, aiming to minimize the window of opportunity for attackers. Today, this is no longer enough. Modern threats have the ability to evolve and respond in real time, requiring a much more agile and robust defense posture from businesses.

Just as with threat detection, the methods for responding in the last few years have evolved significantly, particularly with the introduction of AI-enhanced capabilities and the critical role of Security Operations Centers (SOCs) in providing real-time monitoring and response. Let’s compare traditional response methods with modern, AI-enhanced approaches:

Traditional response methods

Manual intervention

Traditionally, response efforts often required manual intervention by IT staff or security analysts to contain and remediate threats. This could be time-consuming and dependent on the personnel’s availability and skill level.

Predefined playbooks

Response strategies were based on predefined playbooks or procedures for specific types of incidents. While effective for known scenarios, they lacked flexibility and adaptability for unique or evolving threats.

Periodic reporting and analysis

Post-incident analysis and reporting were typically done periodically, which could delay insights into attack vectors and the effectiveness of the response strategies.

Limited scope of response:

Responses were often limited to specific systems or network segments, potentially overlooking broader implications or lateral movements by attackers within the organization.

Modern response methods

Automated response actions:

AI-enhanced tools and SOAR platforms can automatically execute response actions, such as isolating infected machines, blocking malicious IP addresses, or applying security patches, significantly reducing the time to respond and mitigate threats.

Dynamic playbooks and adaptive response

Modern response methods leverage AI to adapt playbooks dynamically based on the context of the incident, ensuring a more effective and tailored response to complex or evolving threats.

Real-time monitoring and analysis by SOCs

SOCs provide 24/7 real-time monitoring and analysis, enabling immediate detection and response to threats. Integrating AI and machine learning tools enhances the SOC’s ability to analyze large volumes of data, identify anomalies, and prioritize responses based on threat severity. Additionally, SOCs are staffed by cybersecurity experts who utilize advanced tools and technologies to orchestrate responses more effectively.

Conclusion

The transition to modern, AI-enhanced response methods, particularly with the support of a SOC, represents a significant advancement in cybersecurity. This approach improves the efficiency and effectiveness of response efforts and enables organizations to better adapt to the dynamic nature of cyber threats. The benefits of real-time monitoring and the strategic use of AI and automation are critical factors in enhancing an organization’s resilience against cyber attacks.

Are you sure your business is truly safe? Our experts can guide you in the vast cybersecurity landscape and help you find the best way to protect your digital assets. Contact us today!

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