What’s your plan if an attack makes it past your defenses?
While there are many tools and technologies that fight to keep attackers out, it’s just as important to have a plan if those fail.
If prevention does fail, you need to have the tools to quickly detect and respond to these attacks. That’s where the concept of continuous monitoring comes in. If you aren’t aware of the activity on your network, how will you detect and fight back?
What is continuous monitoring?
Continuous monitoring is the ongoing collection of data which brings visibility into a network and its assets. It’s the action of collecting all log and event data, looking at the activity and performing real-time behavioral analysis and pattern recognition. That information is used to prioritize and protect against risks, turning a static security assessment into an active process that can provide real-time information on potential threats.
In this age of advanced, targeted attacks, it’s critical for companies to have an accurate, continuous flow of information for their security system so they can respond to both internal and external threats. It gives them the upper hand and a full view of their network, hardware, and software, so they can manage any vulnerabilities and proactively fight even the smallest threats.
The whole purpose is to detect any vulnerabilities and security risks on the network—before a potential attacker does. This helps you stay ahead of the security threats as you monitor potential risks and abnormal activity.
Why is continuous monitoring important?
Executed well, it can give your company confidence knowing that you are aware of what’s happening on your network so you can fight back, instead of worrying about the day an attack happens.
Not only does it help you detect any vulnerabilities on your network, but it also helps to satisfy regulations in many industries that require organizations to have detailed information about network activity.
The Challenges of Continuous Monitoring
Continuous monitoring, in theory, sounds like a good idea. The trouble is putting it into practice. It requires a great deal of up-front work and training. Not only to get the systems in place but also to give your team the knowledge of what to look for and how to do it efficiently.
The best systems for continuous monitoring need to have an automated component that relieves some of the manual work and human interaction. Otherwise the complexity of the system will lead to inefficient results.
As the tactics used in attacks such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) target specific companies, it can be a challenge to adapt the monitoring techniques to detect and fight these skilled attacks.
Tools for Continuous Monitoring
While there are some tools specific to continuous monitoring for DevOps, the goal shifts slightly for continuous monitoring in security. This type of monitoring must be focused on preventing any threats from making their way onto the network or gaining access to any assets or devices without your knowledge.
There are a number of tools that will monitor your network security activity—some that require more manual work than others. These tools can be combined with other monitoring tools to provide the visibility you need into all network activity, from potential threats to traffic and network performance.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
SIEM is a technology that collects logs from firewalls, servers, and network devices. It allows your team to track behavior and network activity so you can investigate potential threats. SIEM technology simply reports the data, and queries can be created to help track specific activities. It is a good tool to provide a holistic view of what’s happening on your network. A good SIEM compiles the data in a centralized location, using the rules and queries to make sense of it all.
It’s a good step toward continuous monitoring, but a SIEM requires a lot of upfront effort to deploy the tool, as well as continual updates to maintain its effectiveness. One way to do that is to use threat assessments called CTAPs across the feeds going to your SIEM, including logs, alerts and more. These assessments can uncover holes in compliance requirements, processes, procedures, threats, or vulnerabilities.
Whether you are implementing a SIEM internally or working with an outside provider, a managed SIEM service can give your team the information that you need while relying on experts to keep track of the data and report back the important information.
Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
Another option for continuous security monitoring is a managed detection and response service. This is a combination of technology and security experts who help you monitor the activity on your network, searching for vulnerabilities and potential threats.
It uses Endpoint Detect & Response (EDR) software to analyze endpoint data, equipping analysts with consolidated data rather than hundreds of thousands of logs or events. It works with technology like a SIEM to provide a secure network environment by effectively detecting and responding to threats.
EDR protects against advanced attacks like fileless attacks or advanced persistent threats (APT). It uses advanced algorithms and behavioral analysis to continuously monitor and report threats, without wasting your time on false positives.
The more proactive you can be with your network security, the bigger the impact you will have in the fight against potential threats. Continuous monitoring is a large step in that direction, making it easier for your company to acknowledge risks while identifying and preventing future threats.