Enterprises are badly burned by security tools that don’t work. When they finally see a solution that does what it purports to do, the shock is palpable.
Stolen or compromised credentials pose well-known risks to organizations and their employees. And as hackers and other malicious actors become more advanced and sophisticated in their techniques, the global threat is increasing. At a recent IT security conference, I spoke with a customer about an alert (TA18-276A) that the United States National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) released late last year. The alert, titled “Using Rigorous Credential Control to Mitigate Trusted Network Exploitation,” outlines recommendations on how to overcome these challenges. In this blog, I’ll discuss how Conditional Access and detection of malicious use of tools and protocols can address the NCCIC’s recommendations.
The alert provides information on how Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors are using multiple mechanisms to acquire legitimate user credentials. Once acquired, attackers can use the credentials to exploit trusted network relationships, in order to expand unauthorized access, maintain persistence, and exfiltrate data from targeted organizations. Some of the suggested NCCIC best practices for administrators to mitigate these threats include rigorous credential controls and privileged-access management, as well as remote-access control and audits of legitimate remote-access logs.
Over the past few years, we’ve observed significant changes in the types of conversations we’re having with CISOs. What used to be discussions about how to keep bad guys out has evolved to how to manage and address internal threats. Internal threats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It could be an attacker who has already gotten in and waiting for the right moment to make a move. It could also be an insider threat. It could be a malicious insider looking to do harm to the organization. Or it could be employees who don’t mean any harm but may doing things (knowingly or unknowingly) that could put an organization at risk.
With the perimeter all but dissolved, and as enterprises transition to the cloud, it’s becoming clear that identity, and where there are points of access, is the new perimeter. The challenge for many organizations is how to understand their posture around identity. This requires understanding who is doing what, when, and where, and understanding it across all applications and platforms on prem, in the cloud and in hybrid environments. Having a holistic view of identity--all users, privileges, access patterns and accounts--is becoming more critical in order to be more proactive and to have proper controls over accounts (privileged, user, service, and more) and to being able to protect accounts from compromise.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with several CISOs about what they are doing to deal with cyberattacks, breaches and internal threats. A consistent theme I heard is that detection only solutions aren't enough. They need more practical approaches to rapidly respond to anomalous behavior and they need to reduce burden on analysts. Working smarter not harder. This is one of the great benefits of real-time threat prevention based on identity, behavior and risk. It can removes work from analyst via adaptive response and automated resolution of false positives. One customer recently told me that within just a couple months, automated response has helped them improve their efficiency by 30-40%. That’s a lot of time that can focused on more critical security tasks.
Service Accounts can represent tremendous security risk for enterprises. And many of our customers struggle with how to best identify, control and protect these accounts. Let’s take a closer look at what service accounts are and what organizations can do to protect service accounts from attackers and insiders.
True Positives. It’s a topic of great interest to me. Security Operations can spend a lot of time dealing with separating out the truly non-malicious events. There is an easier way. But, before we go further, let’s align and calibrate on the terminology of True/False Positives/Negatives. Some of these terms have varying levels of agreement. It reminds me of VLAN-- you can have 5 people in the room and there will be 6 different definitions for it. To make sure we are on the same page, let's start with basic definitions accompanied with real life examples.
It was recently published that Shadow Brokers, the group behind the Equation Group leak, are selling a new set of tools that have the ability to tamper with Windows event logs. What stood out to me is the inefficiency of security solutions that rely solely on logs for detecting threats. Implementing a security analytics or a UEBA product that relies on logs for detection of advanced cyber threats has advantages, but it is also risky.
Think about this statement: “Half of the people you know are below average.” In simple terms, it means that statistically most of the people you know are considered to have average intelligence, or just below or above the line. Does this mean they are dangerous? Does it mean you should reconsider your friendship? Let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.
In our Part 1 Series we talked about User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) and its benefits for better detecting possible breaches and insider threats through user and entity behavior and risk scoring. Now let’s talk about the differences between traditional UEBA vs the newer UEBA solution, the Behavioral Firewall, which integrates adaptive responses to prevent threats.
Enterprises define security policies that match their business objectives. By setting security policy rules, an organization can better enable the business to achieve its goals while protecting them from advanced threats. They work reasonably well, even allowing for the well publicized breaches and insider threats. Without policies or a set of tools in place for such eventualities, it will be very difficult for the business to operate effectively when under attack.