Aamir Lakhani did a great post on Situational Awareness. The original post ca be found HERE
Illustration by Kekai Kotaki
Cisco Systems in their Cyber Security Threat Defense white papers outlines how the network security threat landscape is evolving. They describe how modern attacks are stealthy and evade traditional security perimeter defenses.
Traditional monitoring and reporting tools are no longer sufficient in detecting true threats on the network. Modern security tools and hardware devices such as firewalls, anti-virus, patch management solutions, IPS, and other solutions can only provide a small amount of relief against attacks. Most of these tools seem to be really implemented to fulfill some sort of checkmark for an auditor on a compliance form. Security professional know these tools, although very important, alone don’t provide a full security defense architecture.
Furthermore, as security threats and malware invade systems, security administrators are having trouble understanding the nature of attacks, how they occur, and how to defend against them. Remember you can’t fight what you don’t understand.
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War (source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu)
Image Source: Cisco Identity Services Engine
Cisco Identity Services Engine provides true network identification, profiling, and access controls.
Federal Cyber Initiatives
New mandates are making cyber security front and center of the news. President Obama recently challenged the nation and the Federal government in the United States to increase its cyber defense capabilities. As Federal IT budgets are getting slashed back in 2013; however, spending for cyber security appears to be increasing in the eyes of the casual on-looker.
Cisco Systems, in their Cyber Threat Defense White Paper discusses how “with increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks like WikiLeaks on the rise, federal agencies require more innovative solutions for maintaining a strong security posture. Additionally, with the evolution of the CNCI (Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative), federal agencies are being required to take a more holistic and collaborative approach to analyzing threat information across the totality of government networks for improved incident response and forensic investigation.”
Being constantly bombarded with continuous threats, how can security professionals even guadge they are being attacked or a threat is posing a clear and present danger (yes that was a Harrison Ford shout out).
RSA NetWitness Logo
Image Source: RSA
How To Solve The Problem
I recommend creating a conceptional framework for Threat Defense Visibility and Awareness program. The goal of program should be to (1) provide a framework that can be built by using products, technologies, and methodologies that are available today, (2) provide network visibility on network health and status in real-time, (3) provide real-time network posture and attack risk baselines, (4) provide a training facility for attack analysis and defense.
What Is Network Visibility?
According to Lancope (source: http://www.lancope.com/), “network visibility focuses on the most complex and dangerous information security threats – threats that lurk in networks for months or years at a time stealing vital information and disrupting operations. This type of solution provides visibility into these threats and context to decipher their targets and potential damage”. Lancope further states on their website, security analysts gain visibility into advanced cyber threats such as:
- Network reconnaissance
- Network interior malware proliferation
- Command and control traffic
- Data ex-filtration
Lancope Stealwatch provides network visibility
Understanding trends, anomalies, and threats of the network
Image Source: Lancope
Network visibility gives security administrators the ability to detect problems because they highlight changes in baseline behavior. Did traffic spike a 100%, did outbound traffic suddenly increase, are more requests being transmitted to new domain on the Internet? All these occurrences can indicate an attack. Network visibility shows network security professionals exactly what is different about today’s traffic patterns than what is normally looks like. Continue reading