Close the Gap on Advanced Threats With Integrated Security

January 7, 2019
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4 min read

The board of directors is finally starting to grasp that security risk equals business risk. But as you finalize your presentation on the company’s cybersecurity posture, you can’t help but second-guess yourself. You know the CEO, CFO and other senior leaders want to hear that the security team has an effective strategy for handling advanced threats, but the truth is that your analysts are drowning in data with little meaningful insight into risks.

Based on your knowledge of the rapidly expanding threat landscape, you know the company is vulnerable to a data breach it can’t afford. The problem is that you can’t demonstrate this risk without adequate visibility into the organization’s sensitive data and the vulnerabilities threat actors might exploit to steal it. What’s worse, your security operations center (SOC) is spread thin across the widening cyber skills gap, and alerts are piling up as analysts slog through manual processes. How can chief information security officers (CISOs) free up their SOC teams to investigate the most pressing alerts and minimize risks before they evolve into costly incidents?

Detect and stop advanced persistent security threats

Why Threats Are Outpacing the SOC

While the security profession is finally gaining respect and attention it deserves, understaffed SOCs are struggling to triage enormous volumes of security event data. And the problem is only getting worse; Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that the industry will have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.

Despite the increased spend, many organizations are failing to see results from their security investments. Some organizations have 85 distinct security solutions from 45 unique vendors, but little confidence in their capacity to detect threats. No matter the size of your security arsenal, these standalone tools cannot adequately protect enterprise networks from today’s advanced threats in isolation.

Coupled with the skills crisis, the SOC is grappling with the increasing complexity of the threat landscape. Costly, difficult-to-detect insider attacks have increased by 46 percent since 2014. Meanwhile, 62 percent of security experts believe threat actors will weaponize artificial intelligence (AI) to launch targeted attacks at scale in the next year, according to a Cylance survey.

A New Approach to Detect and Stop Advanced Threats

Despite record-breaking spend on security solutions, the SOC is losing ground for more reasons than the skills shortage and evolving threats. Technology is a barrier for many enterprises in which the security organization lacks a comprehensive view of the risk landscape. Disconnected systems, the IT skills gap and a lack of automation have made it very difficult for these organizations to distinguish advanced threats from false positives.

The cost of failing to adopt a new approach to threat detection and remediation is higher than ever. According to the “2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study,” sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a mega breach of 50 million or more records can cost as much as $350 million. Targeted, malicious attacks and botnets are among the most expensive types of security incident.

“With a variety of threat vectors to contend with, companies must proactively implement policies and technologies that mitigate the risk of facing a costly breach,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute.

By creating an integrated security ecosystem of solutions, policies and people, organizations can more efficiently and effectively detect advanced threats. AI, machine learning and automation can improve the accuracy and speed of threat investigations, while solutions to orchestrate systems, processes and users minimize the impact of incidents.

5 Use Cases for Advanced Threat Detection and Prevention

How’s this for a use case: With an intelligent security ecosystem, Wimbledon achieved 60 times greater efficiency in threat investigations over manual processes. IBM solutions helped the oldest brand in tennis investigate five times more incidents during the annual tournament, with zero security impact to operations.

Use cases for operations strategy, managed incident response, SOC automation, behavioral analytics and user authentication demonstrate how IBM Security solutions offer a complete spectrum of protection against sophisticated threats.

1. Operational Strategy

A recent survey of Black Hat 2018 attendees revealed that sophisticated, targeted attacks are the top concern for 47 percent of security professionals. Other frequently cited challenges facing the enterprise include social engineering, insider threats and cloud risks. When an enterprise is facing these known risks and lacks confidence in existing technologies, it’s critical to strengthen operations proactively.

Partnering with security operations and consulting services can enable the enterprise to design and build a comprehensive response with a cognitive SOC, SOC training and security incident event management (SIEM) optimization.

2. Incident Response

According to Marsh & McLennan, 14 percent of organizations are “not at all confident” or unsure if they are adequately prepared to respond to or recover from a cyber incident. As vulnerabilities and risks evolve, organizations need a culture of continuous improvement to weather the coming storm of advanced threats.

Developing relationships with industry detection and response experts can provide organizations with decades of threat intelligence experience. Managed SIEM services can offer cognitive intelligence for cybersecurity and comprehensive, compliant infrastructure.

3. SOC Automation

Enterprise SOCs encounter 200,000 unique security events each day on average. A cognitive SOC with automation, machine learning, AI and orchestration solutions eases the burden on analysts and improves effectiveness. Incident response automation can reduce the total cost of a data breach by $1.55 million. Meanwhile, intelligent SIEM solutions deliver cognitive security analytics and automation with contextual intelligence to identify significant risks.

4. Visibility Into Anomalies

According to Fidelis Security, 83 percent of SOCs triage less than half of the alerts received each day. This may be due in part to too much time spent chasing false alerts; manual research processes can yield false positive rates of 70 percent or higher.

Organizations can identify user risks and suspicious behavior by investing in behavioral analytics that provide at-a-glance visibility into anomalies.

5. User Authentication

As the enterprise pursues digital transformation, a smarter approach to identity is the new perimeter. While just 67 percent of respondents are currently comfortable using biometrics and other advanced forms of authentication, according to “The Future of Identity,” 87 percent believe they’ll be comfortable in the future.

With cloud-based multifactor authentication, organizations can simplify and scale a checkbox approach to authentication policies across web and mobile applications, including risk-based approaches to user access and biometric authentication methods.

Closing the Gap on Enterprise Threats

Enterprises are spending more than ever on security solutions. However, industry surveys and breach rates show that standalone tools aren’t providing meaningful protection against sophisticated threats.

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, organizations need an integrated ecosystem of solutions that provide visibility into internal and external risks. By continuously aligning systems, policies and people, security teams can improve the accuracy and speed of threat investigations and minimize the risks of advanced threats at each stage of the attack chain.

Advanced threats: 3 steps to safety

Rob Patey
Storyteller/Dreamweaver, IBM

Rob has been waxing poetic about IT topics since the late 90s for technology organizations large and small. While career and life have given him a journey th...
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