To prevent cyberattacks, companies often rely on ‘whitelist’ and ‘blacklist’ methods. While this method has its benefits and can adequately protect systems, the price is high. This list management can be clunky and time-consuming for the IT department and has limited operational benefits. An intelligent approach which bolsters security while enabling operational efficiencies is required – and can be found in User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) solutions, according to Matrix42.
Endpoint security is a significant challenge for IT managers when it comes to preventing cybercrime, with 70% of all attacks carried out via endpoint devices.
The problem is escalating as the number of attacks is constantly rising and, in view of this, comprehensive protection is required. This usually involves a number of steps and components such as VPN access, URL filters or vulnerability shields.
For mature security standards in the enterprise environment, procedures based on positive and negative lists are also frequently used. The two approaches each pursue opposing strategies and are used in a wide variety of areas.
While the whitelist contains entries based on permitted access to certain areas, the blacklist strategy takes the opposite approach, prohibiting access to specific software and data that are assessed as critical.
Whether black or white, some of the problems associated with both methods are obvious. After all, IT security is rarely black and white.
First and foremost, there is a high administrative cost as the system must be manually adjusted and fine-tuned, otherwise, companies run the risk of reacting too lenient to attackers. Conversely, if access control is blocked too tightly, the result is reduced operational capability.
UEBA: Automation replaces manual procedures
To enable maximum security, low administration efforts and an optimal operating level, IT decision makers need new, smart solutions.
Algorithms are taught to distinguish between good and malicious activity through Machine Learning. This not only reduces the need for manual intervention, but significantly increases the overall level of security.
User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) tools use intelligent analyses to efficiently detect possible security incidents. Patterns can be evaluated automatically and compared with possible anomalies.
In this way, UEBA considers user behaviour against a number of factors including IP addresses, locations or devices.
Possible security incidents can be identified much faster, all without user productivity being impacted.
Enabling this is fast data analysis which runs completely in the background, alongside automated hazard detection.
Central to the solution, UEBA provides efficient support in uncovering unusual processes without complicated, predefined configuration rules. This means administrative expenses can be significantly reduced.
Where possible, IT security processes and applications should be integrally connected. Data monitoring tools or anomaly detection solutions are required to evaluate data, compare it with statistics and ultimately identify deviant user behaviour.
UEBA can use information from both scenario and behaviour-based analyses to build rich, meaningful data.
Detecting anomalies in real time
One of the main advantages of UEBA is its broad, comprehensive approach, because all conceivable variants of attacks can be included in the pattern recognition. These include external malware attacks, which aim to steal data or paralyse systems, as well as internal threats.
Often, a company’s own employees will open security gaps, whether by accident or maliciously. Current or former employees, service providers or partners are examples – some of whom have extensive access to internal systems and are able to steal sensitive documents, for example. Automated endpoint protection can detect such activities much faster and put a stop to them in real time.
Even zero-day exploits can be stopped much more effectively with the help of UEBA. Attacks triggered by error-prone codes and carried out within a short timeframe are sometimes detected too late. UEBA counteracts this, quickly identifying when an unusual activity has occurred and triggering an alert.
The alerts can be followed by rapid patches or updates. In many cases, these close security gaps before the damage becomes serious and often this will take place automatically, with all processes running in the background.
In the event of a security incident, the software carries out further actions without manual intervention or informs other applications of the non-compliant status. In all other cases, if workflows have already been defined for the incident, it is usually easy for IT staff to react quickly and according to plan to effectively avert threats.
In a nutshell
UEBA provides smart IT security without any unpleasant background noise, ensuring a maximum level of security, alongside efficient operations.
Administrators can significantly reduce their manual intervention and concentrate on the important tasks.
UEBA also moves IT security away from its reputation of being a ‘necessary evil’, acting intelligently in the background to protect users and organisations without hindering productivity.