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Behavior Analysis: New Weapon To Fight Hackers

Israeli startup Cybereason says it breaks new security ground by spotting deviations in employee behavior and telling companies what to do next.

9 Notorious Hackers Of 2013
9 Notorious Hackers Of 2013
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As the hacking pandemic sweeps through companies, a startup says analytics can help. Cybereason, co-founded by Lior Div, a former cybercrime expert in the Israeli intelligence agency, uses new algorithms to fight what it calls "malops" -- malicious operations perpetrated by hackers who break into a company's network.

"Almost every CEO is aware that their company is going to be breached. They need to understand how to stop those malops" once the breach occurs, Div told InformationWeek. "The bad guys are winning now. If they want to conduct a hacking operation on a company, they will."

One is tempted to remind Div, Cybereason's CEO, that King Harry follows, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more," with, "or close the wall up with our English dead." Though the first line of defense is a major focal point of cybersecurity, Cybereason is far from alone in trying to do something about hackers once they've infiltrated a company. As we've been reminded in the last few months, mostly we fail in our efforts to stop hackers, government and otherwise, from rooting around in our systems.

But Cybereason says it can do two things that others have not been able to do: it breaks down deviations in behavior, such as when an employee who usually uses Word and Excel appears online after hours using network administrator tools. It then gives recommendations on what a company should do about it.

[Are you contributing to your company's security problem? Read The 7 Deadly Sins of Application Security.]

Cybereason installs an agent at a number of company network endpoints, which feeds data to a Cybereason server. The company then does a series of analytics on the data it receives, and makes recommendations from them. Mark Taber, the company's vice president of marketing and sales, said Cybereason is like "a security analyst that you hired and is sitting in your environment and hunting for malicious operations continuously... without going to sleep or the restroom."

"What they're doing is putting in the actual knowledge of what a bad actor would do in their technology -- canning a hacker, if you will," said Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., who had been briefed on the product and shown a demo.

Div said Cybereason wrote its own info graphics language to let it do things such as illustrate a malops timeline, to help companies look at potentially malicious behavior in a new way. Cybereason then automatically makes recommendations about what actions the company might take.

Oltsik said Cybereason's recommendations could fill a need. He said even if there weren't a security skills shortage, companies would want something like Cybereason's recommendation engine. "They've automated security analytics," Oltsik said. "Even companies that are really, really good at this would welcome it."

Cybereason started two years ago, and drew $4.6 million in funding from Charles River Ventures in May 2013. It is based in Cambridge, Mass., with a research team in Israel. It was in stealth mode until Tuesday. Its product, which can be hosted by customers on-premises or by Cybereason, is still not publicly available. Div said it would probably be generally available in a couple of months. For now, the company has given some large and small companies early access to the product.

Find out how a government program is putting cloud computing on the fast track to better security. Also in the Cloud Security issue of InformationWeek Government: Defense CIO Teri Takai on why FedRAMP helps everyone.

Michael Fitzgerald writes about the power of ideas and the people who bring them to bear on business, technology and culture. View Full Bio

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2014 | 4:06:47 PM
Offensive security
What other offensive (rather than defensive) security tools might complement this kind of intelligence data?
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