By: Byron Acohido, Editor-In-Chief, ThirdCertainty
Some day, perhaps fairly soon, it will be much more difficult for data thieves to pull off capers like the headline-grabbing hacks of Home Depot and Target.
That’s not a pipe dream. It’s the projected outcome of a nascent trend that is fast gaining traction in the security community. The buzz phrase for this development is “threat intelligence.”
Threat intelligence broadly refers to bringing data mining technologies to bear on the task of uncloaking and eradicating stealthy network intruders.
Company networks have becoming so complex that it is not terribly challenging for hackers to break in and hide their tracks.
“Right now security analysts spend too much time looking at things that don’t really matter, and they miss the things that do matter. That’s a big problem,” says Chris Petersen, Chief Technology Officer, at security intelligence firm LogRhythm.
Shift for the greater good
Threat intelligence, Petersen says, “is about how we can take all of this data and get more precise in our analytics to get to things security teams should really look at.”
One piece of evidence that better threat intelligence is on its way is that ultra competitive security vendors have begun to form alliances to better correlate information gathered from disparate systems. This is a big deal. There's a long way to go. But this is an encouraging shift for the greater good.
“The problem is that there is no standardized delivery or sharing method for the data, nor is there a clearinghouse for the data,” says Rami Essaid, Co-founder and CEO of website security vendor Distil Networks. “Each relationship is done on a one to one basis. Also, the data is very valuable and often times the relationship is not 100% symbiotic; usually one company has more to gain than another. How to accurately assess the gap and reach business terms is often harder than it may seem.”
Distill, like many vendors, is actively seeking alliances with other vendors to address this challenge. This is unfolding at a time when companies large and small are paying much closer attention to the rising risk of data breaches.
The Edward Snowden affair and recent string of major breaches of high-profile retail chains and financial institutions in the United States and Europe has grabbed the attention of senior officials in companies worldwide, says BeyondTrust CEO Kevin Hickey.
BeyondTrust is working on adding information from intrusion detection and sandboxing vendors to its vulnerability management and privileged accounts monitoring technologies. It has seen its sales jump 30 %, quarter over quarter, for the past six quarters.
“Before the focus was on locking down the perimeter and not letting anybody in,” Hickey says. “Now they’re saying, ‘Look, they’re going to get in. So now it’s all about containing the breach once they do get in.’ ”
The forming of alliances to share and cross-correlate information from disparate systems is just emerging and seems destined to grow, over time. As that happens, better threat intelligence, exercised on a daily basis, holds promise to emerge as a powerful force for making networks much harder to hack than they are today.
Toward that end, LogRhythm recently launched something called the Threat Intelligence Ecosystem, a collective that includes CrowdStrike, Norse, Symantec, ThreatStream and Webroot now collaborating on improving data analytics to better defend networks.
And on CrowdStrike last month rolled out the CrowdStrike Intelligence Exchange Program, or CSIX. The idea is for CSIX to enables its participants to access and share threat intelligence.
"Threat intelligence can be the difference between a massive breach and attempted attack," says Peter George, president of Fidelis. "Customers will be better able to protect their systems with the increased scope of intelligence we can provide as a result of our participation in the Intelligence Exchange.”
More on emerging best practices
Scott Lang, Sr. Director, Product Marketing at BeyondTrust
Scott Lang has nearly 20 years of experience in technology product marketing, currently guiding the product marketing strategy for BeyondTrust’s privileged account management solutions and vulnerability management solutions. Prior to joining BeyondTrust, Scott was director of security solution marketing at Dell, formerly Quest Software, where he was responsible for global security campaigns, product marketing for identity and access management and Windows server management.