"If we'd known what our users were doing, we would have stopped them."
This lament, common among IT security managers, is usually heard after an internal breach. But software vendor Securify Inc. unveiled a tool on Tuesday to help security departments stop unauthorized behavior before it causes serious damage.
The new Securify Appliance line lets IT managers track network and application behavior by user identity in real-time. The products will automatically verify that user behavior on critical business systems complies with security best practices and business controls. The product automatically validates network relationships and behavior against pre-set controls, allowing companies to target where the highest risk behavior is occurring, and then to track it back to an individual user.
The addition of individual identities gives Securify both application-aware and identity-based capabilities to tackle the insider risk problem, says Steve Woo, the vendor's VP of products and marketing. "And Securify continues to automatically validate this granular level of traffic inspection against pre-built controls in real-time, something that application and database activity log analysis can only do way after the fact and typically with cumbersome manual queries," he says.
According to Eric Ogren, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, the most common risk of data loss or theft comes from that "the insider risk problem." Insiders include authorized users, but can also be intruders masquerading as credentialed users. "In fact, a Sarbanes-Oxley priority is protecting a firm's financial results against abuse by privileged users, i.e., someone with the power and skills to take data and cover up their tracks," says Ogren. "In some cases, the insider is not being malicious. They simply make security holes while trying to make their job easier. It's not unlike movers who leave a door propped open as they go in and out all day long."
According to Woo, his customers' top concern is gaining visibility into their networks and controlling insider risks, especially from outsourcers and contractors, or from unintentional insecure activity by employees.
Ogren notes that a company's remote offices exacerbate security concerns because those facilities generally have a higher rate of turnover. That means getting remote employees educated and trained on corporate security policies is a challenge.
Securify can be deployed to remote networks, explains Woo. "With network-based monitoring, the solution only needs to be installed on the headquarters's side of the connection to monitor and protect access to the critical business system," he says. Securify can also detect unexpected logins from a remote location indicative of a potential compromise, or flag violations of secure practice if sensitive data is inappropriately accessed while offsite, Woo adds.
Securify 5.2 correlates network activity back to user identities, as well as group association and network location. The Microsoft Active Directory reports user names, machine names, and various application specific logins -- including email, file transfer and others. These activities occur in real-time, so Securify can pinpoint insider misuse, either intentional or unintentional, as it takes place.
"Identity recognition addresses a very important piece of information security that is often overlooked," says Securify user Mike Ma, senior security engineer at Openwave. "Accountability is as important a piece of information security as the traditional concerns around confidentiality, integrity and availability...Securify gives us real time visibility into our network traffic up to the application level. With the new 5.2 release and the identities feature we can now answer the questions of who is doing what, when, and where on our network."
In addition to the tracking benefits, Woo notes that huge cost and time savings are achieved through use of Securify rather than through the traditional manual review of application and database activity logs. "Securify's real-time, continuous verification of all activity versus at most a once a day manual review of a sample of log data also yields true threat protection and operational risk improvement."
Securify is clearly not alone in the network security space, but it's one of the few companies -- if only -- to leverage continuous visibility of users and applications to make intelligent profiles of the business application, touts Ogren. "The advantage is that the competition has trouble being continuous or identifying users so that the monitoring can be more actionable."
For example, network behavior anomaly detection (NBAD) does a great job of continuously monitoring application traffic (destination, source, protocol) but forces IT to manually associate user names with IP addresses. On the other hand, security information management (SIM) does a decent job of collecting log file information, but isn't real-time continuous, Ogren says.
Jennifer Bosavage, Special to Dark Reading
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