Loading up the network with a slew of point solutions is not an effective defensive in-depth strategy. Instead, it should enable multiple tools to work together as a single solution to identify and respond to threats anywhere in the enterprise and at any point in the attack chain.
To thwart an attack, a successful security plan must be able to see and disrupt every move in the attack chain in real time. In certain situations, a response does not occur immediately after the attack is observed, emphasizing the importance of coordinated prevention across an organization’s expanded footprint. It’s easier said than done – it necessitates comprehending the steps of an attack and mapping them to solutions capable of responding quickly to both known and unknown attack components and variations.
Why are so many security strategies ineffective?
The problem with most security strategies is that they can only identify and respond to a small number of steps in an attack chain because solutions either run in isolation or have restricted data access.
Second, all security incidents are designed to elude detection. They do this by working under the radar to avoid triggering an alarm, or by attacking a network with several vectors to either confuse disjointed security systems, generate distractions so the actual attack is obfuscated, or slip past defenses undetected because each attack element on its own appears to be benign.
There’s a third element as well – the inability of fragmented security solutions to efficiently correlate threat intelligence. Understanding that the network is under attack and then strategizing to disrupt the attack, becomes nearly impossible without the ability to connect and utilize common threat intelligence.
Even though the steps in an attack chain can differ, the following are the general components of an attack chain, as well as the tools used to stop them:
- Preliminary Analysis: some instances of this activity are- harvesting email addresses, probing network edge devices for exploitable vulnerabilities, checking websites and social media for exploitable vulnerabilities, and monitoring ports and traffic for ways to bypass defenses. To detect and react to items like scans and probes, security strategies should include NGFWs, web application firewalls, and IPS systems. Prioritizing IoT and OT-aware technologies, as well as using deception technologies, would make it more difficult for a threat actor to identify legitimate devices and ports.
- Weaponization: This stage usually entails creating an exploit to target a known vulnerability, such as a publicly disclosed vulnerability that must be exploited before a patch can be deployed. It may also include using sophisticated ransomware or other malware-based infection to exploit a zero-day vulnerability, making detection even more difficult. To detect, evaluate, and prevent newly developed malware designed to circumvent conventional security techniques, security systems must include advanced threat protection technologies. It also necessitates consistent antivirus capabilities that have been tailored to the most recent threat intelligence from vendors and the community.
- Delivery: Compromised web pages and infected emails are still the most popular malware distribution method. Infected attachments, connections, and websites must be detected and blocked by secure email gateway and web security solutions. Active training on credential theft prevention and phishing attacks for the employees can help further reduce the attack surface.
- Exploitation, implementation, and communications: The ability to orchestrate various technologies based on the same dataset is most important here. Breaking the attack sequence can be done with technologies like AV, sandboxing, IPS, web and video filtering, and DNS. In addition, advanced technologies such as EDR and XDR tools can help the SOC team see and track lateral movement through networks, endpoints, and clouds. Advanced AI and SOAR are critical in assisting the teams in detecting and responding in a timely manner.
- Exfiltration: Behavioral analytics can help detect unauthorized acts, and deception tools can be used to confuse attackers and cause them to trip alarms, preventing them from remaining within a network for an extended period of time.