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Security intelligence refers to an enterprisewide method of tracking and monitoring all network systems, no matter the type, to prevent hackers from successfully stealing data, implanting malware or taking control of a system. The intelligence part is the activity tracking, event monitoring and real-time forensic analysis of data to identify attacks. Security intelligence isn't new, but it's a field that is expanding exponentially due to the public nature of a loss. IT organizations in businesses of all sizes are challenged daily to identify, block and mitigate malware or other attack attempts. Each new attempt is likely different and tends to grow in complexity. Security intelligence is necessary to proactively identify, track and prevent the following attacks:
- Advanced persistent threats, or APTs: Long-term, custom, low-profile attacks not meant to be noticed; typically malware
- Distributed denial of service, or DDoS: Overwhelming systems to the point they stop working
- Social engineering
Cloud-based systems and other complex, porous and large-scale networks further complicate the problem. Hackers look for any gaps in IT control, and a cloud system is more porous, with data and access points that may be exposed. There is no longer a single perimeter defense that allows organizations to secure a network from a single location. IT staff and business management need assistance to prevent breaches and proactively protect an organization's resources. Security intelligence is more than the latest buzzword. It's an essential function a successful business needs to protect its internal system from data theft or loss of network resources.
What about SIEM?
Security information and event management (SIEM) system tool sets deliver security intelligence in real time to give business managers and IT leaders situational awareness at a speed and scale necessary to identify, understand and generate a timely threat response. Frequently, security-intelligent SIEM systems are able to automate many first-response actions to a threat, allowing organizations to respond quickly and effectively. First-generation SIEM systems monitored both network and data systems. Today's second-generation SIEM systems not only monitor and track traffic, but also analyze data, files and application code, searching for malware or attack forms using forensic methods. IT manages the network system and devices; security intelligence keeps pace with ongoing threats and attacks.
Another advantage of second-generation SIEM systems is their ability to scan logs and machine data throughout a network and apply forensic monitoring. Applying network forensic monitoring against multiple machines with automated analytical techniques exposes risks to the system and threats already in the system. Integrating SIEM, log management, file integrity monitoring, automated analytics, and host and network forensics creates an intelligent security platform. All organizations in the business of storing, sharing or using data via applications need to understand the importance of security intelligence and what it means for keeping business information secured day in and day out.
Monitoring is great, but what about prevention?
Monitoring and tracking are essential for identifying a threat and providing necessary evidence of the threat. But IT staff and business managers are best served when an attack is prevented. In terms of security intelligence, what does preventing an attack look like? Prevention comes from a combination of these processes:
- Digital vaccines delivered weekly or daily to keep organizations ahead of the latest vulnerabilities
- Log monitoring and real-time analysis
- Independent host forensics, including application ID and packet capture
- Machine analytics for correlation and pattern recognition
- Machine analytics for multidimensional user, host and network threat detection
- Big data analysis using visual analytics, pivot tables and drill-down functions
- Automatic first responses to reset firewall, server and authentication
- Real-time updates for analytic rules and attack patterns
- Firewalls changing on the fly
- An ability for all computing infrastructures to update to the latest security changes automatically
Monitoring is an essential first step to prevention. File integrity, data and data processing systems detect when abnormal activity takes place. Network connection monitoring records every action to and from the host and provides a record of all network connections, including unauthorized Web, FTP or outbound transfer requests. An organization's IT staff has access to all the data, but sorting through it is an enormously time-consuming task, even for an expertly trained security professional. However, with the newer SIEM systems, analysis of all the data is provided via dashboards, automatically generated reports and immediate alerts. An organization's IT and business managers need only interpret the analysis and make response decisions.
IT, business management, and engineers need to be aware of security intelligence within the organization, but that doesn't mean they need to be security experts. SIEM and rapidly expanding integration of network and data monitoring services provide security expertise and coverage. Today, the best way to prevent attacks is an integrated tool that performs continuous monitoring and tracking, combined with forensic data analysis and automatic responses to keep systems from being compromised. The increasing number of data breaches indicates the need for more intelligent system security in order for organizations to successfully protect and secure networks and data. Every engineering team member has a part in supporting secure processes and coding. However, security intelligence systems replace the need to become a security expert by generating decision-making data and analysis to assist IT and business management in making response decisions rapidly and keeping business systems secured.