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7 Tips for Effective Deception

The right decoys can frustrate attackers and help detect threats more quickly.
Use Real Computers as Decoys
Make Sure Your Decoys Appear Important and Interesting
Emulate Nontraditional Endpoint Devices
Think Like an Attacker
Use the Right Breadcrumbs to Lure Attackers to Your Decoys
Use Deception Primarily for Early Warning
Keep Your Deceptions Fresh
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The growing ability of attackers to breach even well-defended enterprise networks has led to increased interest in deception technologies and tactics in recent years.

Deception tools basically use misdirection, false responses, and other tricks to lure attackers away from legitimate targets and point them to honeypots and other decoy systems designed to trap or distract them from their missions. Deception tools — many of which leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) — can help organizations detect intrusions early and provide them with an opportunity to observe an attacker's tools and tactics.

In a recent report, Mordor Intelligence estimated demand for deception tools would hit around $2.5 billion in 2025, from just under $1.2 billion in 2019. Much of the demand will come from within the government sector and from global financial institutions and other targets of frequent cyberattacks, according to the analyst firm.

Deception is an interesting concept, says Tony Cole, CTO of Attivo Networks, "and has been around in various forms for millennia."

"Deception can work on almost any place in an enterprise where potential compromises can take place," he says, adding it is especially useful where endpoint protection and endpoint detection and response tools may have gaps in protection. "For instance, when an endpoint is comprised and the adversary uses it to query Active Directory, you can provide false information back to the adversary without ever impacting the production environment."

Rick Moy, chief marketing officer at Acalvio, points to three main use cases for deception: to add an additional layer of protection in mission-critical environments, to shore up detection capabilities in areas with known security weaknesses, and to lure out adversaries hiding in a sea of security information and event management (SIEM) alerts.

"Deploying attractive lures and decoys amid the various network segments works much like the proverbial cheese or peanut butter in a mousetrap that's strategically placed along the kitchen baseboards," Moy says.

Here, according to Moy and others, are seven best practices for using deception to detect threats quickly.

 
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