Security Judo with Security Intelligence and Network Forensics

May 27, 2014
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3 min read

Have you ever watched a martial arts competition or demonstration? I’m not talking about UFC (although very riveting to watch) — I’m talking about a more pure form of martial arts such as judo or kung fu. The fundamental approach of most martial arts is actually rooted in self-defense. In judo, one leverages the oncoming force of opponents and uses that force against them to throw them to the ground or pin them into submission.

As someone who has attempted to learn mixed martial arts for three years, I can personally say that it is extremely difficult. The amount of practice, discipline and pain required to become even somewhat proficient in the art is incredible. There are thousands of defense and attack combinations to be learned, and it takes decades to perfect. More than just knowing the moves, students must also be able to read and anticipate their opponent’s next move. Unfortunately, we don’t live in “The Matrix” where we can download knowledge into our memories and become an instant judo expert. The commitment and skill required to become a master in martial arts is the reason why there are so few real “masters.”

Security Specialists: Rare and Talented individuals

The same can be said of security specialists. It takes a special set of skills and a unique character to be great at something such as security and network forensics. You need to have a broad understanding of the methodologies that different attackers use; you have to understand the most effective methods of protecting your most critical assets — or “crown jewels” — from those both inside and outside your organization; you must know where your vulnerabilities are so you can protect them; and you must have both a massive amount of patience and the tenacity to perform the grueling work of sifting through tons of detailed data, knowing what to look for. It can often take hours, if not days, to track down what actually happened around a security incident.

The security specialist is indeed an amazing person, and they are few and far between. And similar to a martial arts master, it takes a substantial amount of skill, practice and experience to become an effective security specialist.

Security Teams Continue to Face Ongoing Resource Challenges

The issue today, however, is that the vast majority of security teams within organizations constantly struggle to obtain the resources they need to successfully address security issues. Teams are spread thin, reacting to everyday issues and threats or responding to the latest vulnerability disclosure on top of dealing with the aftermath of the five laptops that were stolen or misplaced that week.

This lack of resources and time drives security teams to acquire solutions that help them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, reducing the amount of time that a security incident can impact an organization. These solutions must be extensions of their skills, allowing them to automatically detect incidents and intuitively follow the most important electronic breadcrumb trails left by a malicious user.

This is where the analogy of “security judo” comes into the picture. Just like in judo, where the defender leverages the movements of the attacker to pin them down, the security specialist leverages the movements found within a trail of network packet data.

Attackers or malicious insiders cannot hide from the network. Clever attackers work hard to hide their tracks by taking over control of systems and shutting down services that can be used against them; but one simply can’t hide from network activity traffic.

Security Intelligence and Incident Forensics Can Optimize Security Teams

This is why the QRadar Security Intelligence solution has always leveraged network activity data such as flows and packet content, and it now includes full packet capture and analysis with the new QRadar Incident Forensics module. Security Intelligence and Incident Forensics allows security experts — even novices who aren’t familiar with packets — to perform expert-level forensics around an incident. QRadar does this by turning the packet data into a rich, highly indexed set of metadata that represents all communications and movement of data such as files, documents, emails, chat and social network communications. It allows a security specialist to intuitively follow the movements of attackers or malicious insiders by providing a chronological, visual reconstruction of their movements. This, of course, is automatically correlated with internal identity data, enabling the security specialist to more easily spot the culprit and all their relationships with no additional investigation.

Security Intelligence and Incident Forensics can turn your best security experts into masters and your security novices into black belts, ultimately helping you to isolate the impact of an attack more quickly or even helping to stop it before it damages your organization.

How is your organization optimizing its security operations teams and enabling your security professionals to reach their full potential in protecting your network?

Jason Corbin
Director of Security Intelligence Product Management, IBM Security

Jason Corbin is the Director of Product Management for Security Intelligence for IBM Security. Jason is responsible for defining the direction of its flagshi...
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