Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

6/7/2012
01:06 PM
Wendy Nather
Wendy Nather
Commentary
50%
50%

When Is A Breach Not A Breach?

Monitoring: It's not just for breaches anymore -- and actually it never was. Here are some of the other uses for security monitoring

When most people think of security monitoring, they think of external attackers breaking into systems, or they think of insider fraud. But there's a whole spectrum of monitoring cases that security groups have to deal with, and they're not all Threat Level Orange.

Sometimes the team is asked to investigate a suspicion of a suspicion -- to determine whether it’s worth anyone’s time to dig further. Sometimes the "breach" is actually a turf war between departments, branch offices, or system administrators, when someone uses a root password that they weren’t supposed to have. And sometimes the monitoring is just for distasteful behavior that, strictly speaking, isn’t security-related.

One of the most difficult tasks to do well with any kind of monitoring system is to support an HR investigation. Let’s take the classic example of an employee being suspected of visiting inappropriate websites using company systems. Most Web filtering reporting systems will list every single URL that the user’s browser accesses, and that’s a lot of them. Just think of how many ads, graphics, and frames are displayed on any given page, and throw in any automatic authentication processes behind the scenes.

The first task is to sort out which main site the user was actually visiting; the second is to determine which sites the user accessed on purpose. Determining intent in browsing behavior is not something that comes easily to a SIEM, but it’s crucial for any potential disciplinary action. Did the user just visit the Exotic Singles Club site, or did he log in there, indicating that this was more than a one-time thing?

Other "breach" incidents that monitoring can pick up include unscheduled code changes, strategic alteration of a legal document, employee naps at the keyboard, leaks to a reporter, accidental publication, magically appearing and disappearing servers (and I’m not even talking about virtual machines), and one person calling another a doodyhead on instant messaging.

Security monitoring can be supportive of the business as well. It can be used to prove to an auditor that actions were taken by a required deadline. I saw it used once in a grievance case to show that the company assumed an important email was successfully delivered by a certain time because it tracked all email bounces and didn’t get one for that recipient’s address. The right kind of security monitoring can help troubleshoot operational issues and collect information at a certain point in time that is no longer available anywhere else.

So when you’re designing your security monitoring system, make sure it supports more use cases than just "catching APTs." Gather requirements from your business areas, HR, legal, audit, and your colleagues in IT, because it can potentially be useful to all of them. Of course, you also need to be sure that your monitoring doesn’t clash with any data or privacy laws, but in all other ways, think bigger than "breach."

Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at the independent analyst firm 451 Research. You can find her on Twitter as @451wendy.

Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at independent analyst firm 451 Research. With over 30 years of IT experience, she has worked both in financial services and in the public sector, both in the US and in Europe. Wendy's coverage areas ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4931
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
IBM MQ 9.1 LTS, 9.2 LTS, and 9.1 CD AMQP Channels could allow an authenticated user to cause a denial of service due to an issue processing messages. IBM X-Force ID: 191747.
CVE-2020-11987
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
Apache Batik 1.13 is vulnerable to server-side request forgery, caused by improper input validation by the NodePickerPanel. By using a specially-crafted argument, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability to cause the underlying server to make arbitrary GET requests.
CVE-2020-11988
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
Apache XmlGraphics Commons 2.4 is vulnerable to server-side request forgery, caused by improper input validation by the XMPParser. By using a specially-crafted argument, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability to cause the underlying server to make arbitrary GET requests.
CVE-2021-21974
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
OpenSLP as used in ESXi (7.0 before ESXi70U1c-17325551, 6.7 before ESXi670-202102401-SG, 6.5 before ESXi650-202102101-SG) has a heap-overflow vulnerability. A malicious actor residing within the same network segment as ESXi who has access to port 427 may be able to trigger the heap-overflow issue in...
CVE-2021-22667
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
BB-ESWGP506-2SFP-T versions 1.01.09 and prior is vulnerable due to the use of hard-coded credentials, which may allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access and permit the execution of arbitrary code on the BB-ESWGP506-2SFP-T (versions 1.01.01 and prior).