SOC teams are finding it more and more difficult to detect increasingly complex attacks that take place over ever larger perimeters. At the same time, they are bearing the full brunt of the explosion in the number of alerts to process (especially due to the myriad of technologies in use and the false positives they generate), the strengthening of the regulatory framework, and the need for more granular and rapid detection…
Against a backdrop of an acute shortage of cybersecurity skills, these issues cannot be addressed solely by increasing the size of SOC teams. The use of new tools, based on four strategic areas, is essential in enabling SOCs to stay ahead of threats.
Here, extending the scope of detection enables the protection of new areas of the IS that are not sufficiently secure (such as the cloud) and of resources that are increasingly being chosen as targets (through ransomware attacks on terminals, targeted attacks using ADs, etc.).
At the same time, new approaches need to be adopted to detect targeted attacks (0-day, “low signal”, etc.), whose increasing sophistication is undermining existing security measures.
In addition to these new detection tools, an advanced knowledge of threats and attackers can improve existing detection capabilities, help prioritize incidents to be dealt with, and increase the effectiveness of the response.
But SOC teams are already struggling to process the events generated by existing tools. As a result, it’s essential to standardize and automate interactions between teams and systems, and, wherever possible, the sequence of analysis and response.
Follow our series on the topic and learn how to tool up in these four strategic areas!
Extending the scope of detection to new perimeters
A unique solution to secure all clouds: CASB
Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) address an area of the IS that is poorly served by traditional security measures: the cloud. The very nature of the cloud means that protection in this area requires a different approach to that used for a conventional IS; there is little or no control of resources (infrastructure, OSs, or applications—depending on the type of offering), assets are located outside the IS, etc.
CASBs aim to centralize and ensure that security policies are applied. Some cloud providers offer their own CASB security services (for example, Microsoft’s Cloud App Security); but, depending on the needs, it may be preferable to use third-party solutions, even though there is a cost to adding in another player. While CASBs aim to ensure security levels in the cloud, relying on the cloud service providers to perform this monitoring role can be counterproductive: it’s preferable to make use of a “trusted third party”.
In all cases, CASBs offer a diversity of solutions that can include a very large number of services—their degree of maturity depending on the solution’s publisher, the cloud provider, and the type of hosting (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.).
On the one hand, CASB solutions make it possible to deal with specific cloud issues, by addressing the lack of visibility in these environments (through shadow IT detection, usage statistics, etc.) and ensuring that they are compliant (verification of configurations, etc.).
On the other hand, they play a part in the application of traditional security measures in this cloud. In particular, data security issues (such as DLP and encryption measures, which are of special concern to regulators) and threat detection (centralization of cloud logs for transmission to SIEM, detection of abnormal behavior using UEBA (see our dedicated article on this), etc.) are parts of a CASB traditional capabilities. In addition, some stakes associated with IAM can also be addressed by these solutions (SSO, access contextualization, etc.).
There are two main modes of deployment when putting these features in place, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Proxy-type solutions are placed between users and the cloud service.
In contrast, when using API-type solutions, which are sometimes called “out-of-band”, the cloud service’s consumers communicate directly with it. Each time it’s accessed, the service queries the CASB’s APIs to evaluate the risks and authorize (or prohibit) the consumption of the service. However, to operate, API solutions rely on the interfaces offered by the cloud provider, which may limit the options.
At present, CASBs are relatively new and immature solutions, and their deployment is limited. However, given the increasingly broad adoption of cloud services (already well advanced), CASBs undoubtedly have a bright future. They’ll enable SOC teams to extend their surveillance to this area, which will soon represent a large proportion of any IS.
Examples of CASB publishers:
The new Swiss army knife for securing terminals: endpoint detection and response (EDR)
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions are set to enhance SOC’s detection and response capabilities for terminals (PCs, servers, etc.).
As the name implies, EDRs play a part in detecting attacks. In fact, they are plugging the gaps in anti-virus solutions (and other HIPSs) which make use of specific attack signatures and are therefore unsuited to detecting certain attack types—in particular advanced attacks (APTs). EDRs are based on other detection methods, with publishers generally offering a combination of techniques commonly used elsewhere.
Among these techniques, a large number of solutions detect the exploitation of known vulnerabilities or attack patterns (the opening of suspicious ports to dubious addresses, etc.), the analysis of files using a sandbox (local emulation, submission in the cloud, etc.), and behavioral approaches based on Machine Learning (in particular UEBA solutions—see the dedicated chapter on this). Depending on the SOC’s needs, the alerts produced can be integrated as SIEM sources, or made available directly from the solution management console.
In addition to their advanced detection capabilities, EDR solutions also result in a considerable increase in visibility on devices: lists of processes and services launched, lists of files in certain system directories, as well as other information that facilitates investigation in cases where an alert is raised. Some solutions go beyond mere recovery of the state of the terminal at the time of the request, enabling its history to be recovered too: generation of logs, recovery of deleted files, etc.
But EDRs’ features don’t end at the detection and analysis phase. In fact, these solutions enable remote remediation actions to be performed, and the complexity of these depends on the publisher: deleting or quarantining files, ending processes, quarantining the terminal from the network, modifying registry keys, etc.
EDRs, thus, are comprehensive solutions that come into play at every stage of the process: from detection, through analysis, to response. However, they are not intended to replace anti-virus solutions: it’s always more effective to block known attacks, even though publishers are increasingly offering solutions that combine these two types of functionality.
For more details on EDR solutions, read our dedicated article here.
Examples of EDR publishers:
Protecting the keys to the kingdom: Active Directory supervision
Directories are among an IS’s most critical components. They provide the authentication and authorization functionality for almost all IS resources—both technical and business function—including the most critical ones. It’s therefore not surprising that compromising the AD is one of the most frequent attack methods used, since it opens numerous doors to an attacker.
Despite this criticality, and the fact that AD architectures are well known and have evolved little in recent years, their security has scope to improve. This is due, in particular, to their specific mode of operation (OUs, domains, trees, forests, users, etc.), which renders traditional protection and surveillance methods ineffective; a significant concern given that any vulnerability can represent a major risk for the rest of the IS.
AD surveillance solutions aim to overcome this problem by supervising (in real time, or during an audit) the specificities of directories (configuration, status of accounts, etc.) and detecting vulnerabilities that could result in them being compromised. To do this, AD supervision solutions have a highly detailed knowledge of how ADs function, and, in particular, the associated security issues.
When the solution detects a vulnerability, it raises an alert (via the SIEM, or directly) and can provide remediation advice to facilitate the work of the teams responsible for rectifying the problem.
AD supervision tools also enable the SOC to detect any changes in configuration (legitimate, accidental, or malicious) and continuously assure security levels for these critical components. In doing so, they make the task of numerous attackers decidedly more complex.
In addition to directly strengthening the AD’s security levels, such solutions can also be used to ensure compliance with standards or regulatory requirements (for example PCI DSS, etc.).
These solutions are not widely applied today, and their use is generally limited to one-off audits. However, given the considerable security improvements associated with the provision of detection and remediation advice, and their ease of use, such solutions have strong potential and are likely to find their place among the tools used by SOCs.
Examples of AD supervision publishers:
You can find our second article in the series here.