Are You Drowning in Security Data?
Rich Mogull of Securosis recently wrote a blog entry called “Can You Stop a Targeted Attack?” that nicely complements a Dark Reading article and accompanying report by his colleague, Adrian Lane, entitled “15 Ways to Get More Value from Security Log and Event Data.”
After (justifiably) lamenting that many “vendors have been APT-washing their stuff trying to convince anyone who would sit still that their run-of-the-mill IPS or endpoint protection product” could stop APT attacks with “with fairy dust and assorted other black magic,” Rich goes on to ask some interesting questions.
- How many of the adversaries facing organizations today are advanced or persistent? Probably very few, since most of them are “today’s version of script kiddies trying to smash and grab their way out of the despondency of their existence” by stealing your organization’s customer details and payment card information. (I would add that it’s not just script kiddies but also organized gangs of cyber-criminals, operating out of eastern Europe and other exotic locations, preying on both large and small businesses who don’t have even the most basic security controls.)
- Are existing controls such as perimeter defenses sufficient? Answer No (but existing controls still have a role to play).
- Do targeted attacks exist? Absolutely (the Aurora attack on Google being just one example).
- Are new technologies emerging to help prevent targeted attacks? Yes — Rich writes that “lots of vendors are learning and evolving their offerings to factor in this new class of attacker.”
- How can next-generation SIEM and security intelligence help? Rich doesn’t use these specific terms in his blog but writes that “Regardless of what happens on the prevention side, you still need to monitor the hell out of your stuff … it’s career-limiting to plan on stopping [targeted attacks]” so you should still invest in “monitoring, forensics, and response – even in the presence of new and innovative protections.” He mentions Global Payments as an example of an organization that discovered they had been breached by monitoring their egress traffic and “seeing stuff they didn’t like leaving their network” (one of the capabilities provided by QRadar); and yes, they didn’t stop the breach “but it’s a hell of a lot better to catch it yourself than to hear from your payment processor or the FBI that you have a ‘problem’”. Gartner analyst Mark Nicolett made a similar observation in “Using SIEM for Targeted Attack Detection” [complementary download] when he wrote that “Organizations are failing at early breach detection, with more than 85% of breaches undetected by the breached organization.”
In Adrian’s Dark Reading article, he writes that “we are drowning in [security] data but are thirsty for actionable information.” And in the full report from Dark Reading’s Security Monitoring Tech Center, he writes that by deploying SIEM with “automation and resources, along with a healthy dose of human intervention and insight, organizations can make their data work for them, instead of the other way around.”
Adrian also writes that SIEM “technologies are being used not just to analyze data after the fact, but also to perform real-time detection quickly followed by meaningful forensic examination of events.”
By the way — does this sound like Big Data? Of course it does — but we’re talking about purpose-built Big Data analytics that were designed specifically for security — not just a generic Big Data repository with a bunch of scripting tools. QRadar has always been built on a Big Data architecture — distributed, parallel, elastic and indexed — but it’s the applications built on top of this architecture that help you find the proverbial needle in the haystack via automated intelligence.
One of the ways that the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform helps you increase the signal-to-noise ratio is via its embedded expert security knowledge, based on nearly 10 years of real-world experience, including: hundreds of pre-configured correlation rules; 1,500+ security/compliance reports; built-in support for 400+ data sources, including parsing and normalization; and native support for the collection of network flow traffic (via deep packet inspection), which can then be used for behavioral analysis and anomaly detection in combination with information from log sources.
As Adrian Lane writes in the Dark Reading report, “Enterprises are swimming in the sea of data generated by networks, servers, personal computing devices and applications … Just as the bad guys adjust their attacks to take advantage of new vulnerabilities or to tune malware to evade detection, security professionals must continue to adapt. Sitting still means failure. Ultimately, these log files are your view into what’s going on, and it’s your job to figure out what’s important and how to get that information with as little work as possible.”
And hopefully we can help make your job easier – unlike first-generation SIEMs that are complex and require armies of people (in-house staff and/or contractors) to deploy and operate. Gartner says that QRadar is “is relatively straightforward to deploy and maintain across a wide range of deployment scales” while Jerry Walters, Director of Information Security at Ohio Health, says in his YouTube interview that “QRadar gives us the visibility to find the virtual needle in the haystack when it comes to discovering what happened and when, and to proactively prevent things that are potentially going to be problems.”
 Critical Capabilities for Security Information and Event Management, Gartner, 21 May 2012