Threat Detection

Real Time Threat Detection: The Facts You Need to Know

Cybercrime is one of the biggest issues facing today's intensely digital, data-driven society. Digital threats like identity theft and data breaches have been threatening to rip apart the world as we know it for the last several years. What's even more terrifying is, it's still on the rise. 

Q3 of 2021 alone saw more data breaches than all of 2020, combined. 

Data breaches can be catastrophic for businesses. This is especially true of small-, medium-sized, and independently-owned businesses without large reserves of cash to fall back on. Customers can suffer from a fatal loss of trust in a company that's suffered a data breach.

That's just the beginning of the havoc that cybercrime can wreak on a business, though. It also can have a disastrous impact on your company's morale and productivity. The increase of digital security incidents is causing an alarming spike in turnover in the cybersecurity industry.

When there is a cybersecurity breach, threat, or risk, it's vital that you respond to it as quickly as possible. Not only does your company's reputation depend on it - so do your customers.

Which is why you need real time threat detection.

These are just a few of the benefits of this powerful new technology. What else can real time threat detection do? Why do you need it? 

Keep reading to find out how real time threat detection tools can help ensure your business is free from all digital threats!

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What Is Real Time Threat Detection?

Real time threat protection is more of a family of security tools rather than one single software solution. That's because it handles every aspect of making sure your computer and network are secure when connected to another network.

It gets even more complicated when you consider that every industry has its own rules, regulations, and often dedicated tools, for making sure their systems are safe and secure. The healthcare industry has its own rules about real time threat detection, for instance. So do financial institutions.

This goes for defense contractors and the military, as well. Energy providers also have their own rules about cybersecurity.

How Real Time Threat Detection Works

There are a lot of different kinds of threat detection. That means there are a lot of different ways that security tools can detect threats. 

The first and most basic is simply modeling the behavior of known cyberthreats. These security tools create a log of all the different files that cybercriminals have attempted to access. It also keeps a record of where these files are stored.

A log is also kept of when the attempt was made.

Other security tools might keep a log of invalid logins. Perhaps it might store a log of IP addresses where these attempts were coming from.

Still others might have a log of known commonly known malware or cybersecurity risks. These behaviors are relatively easy to detect by cybersecurity tools.

That's largely because they've literally been around for decades. These sorts of automated risk detection solutions have been standard since at least the 1990s. Today's cybersecurity risks are far more advanced than these relatively simple techniques. 

Here are a few other common risk detection techniques used today.

User and Attack Behavior Analytics

This is a more advanced form of keeping a log of known cybercriminal activity. It begins by keeping a log of known cybersecurity threats and activities.

It also makes a model of trusted behavior, however. This gives the threat detection system a reference so it can recognize anomalies. 

A system set up for remote work with a user base based in Silicon Valley would have mostly US-based users, for example. These users would largely operate business hours in PST. A login attempt from Seoul would get flagged as potentially suspicious behavior and worthy of further investigation.

Analyzing attack behavior is more complicated. Many cyberattacks don't follow a recognizable pattern of behavior but, instead, might leave subtle traces that connect to form a greater risk.

In these instances, automated risk detection might work in conjunction with human analysts to identify and prevent security risks.

Create Intruder Traps

Some things are just too good to pass up. Security teams understand this tendency, so they'll create scenarios that are too appealing for cybercriminals to pass up. These are called intruder traps.

One example of an intruder trap might be a honeypot trap. This could be a particular asset or resource that's thought to contain network services or resources. Anyone attempting to access those resources identify themselves as a security risk.

Another example would be honeypot credentials. These are supposed credentials that would offer access to elevated access or network abilities. Requesting these credentials alert the security team of the potential security risk. They could then investigate manually should they feel it's warranted.

The risk detection system can also keep a log with all of the pertinent data about the access attempt, including the IP address, geolocation, what resources were requested, etc. All of this data makes for a far more robust automated security solution.

Hunting Threats 

Real time threat detection doesn't simply sit around and wait for cybersecurity threats. It can also pro-actively seek out security risks it might not know about yet. 

Risk detection can run systematic analysis of your entire network. It can assess every single asset, resource, endpoint, URL, and even hardware for potential security risks. These could include unauthorized access attempts, suspicious network activities like attempting to download or alter unusual files or data, traffic from unusual sources, or other forms of event management.

Benefits Of Real Time Threat Detection

Real time threat detection is mandatory if you want to make sure your network architecture is as safe and secure as possible. It begins by identifying any suspicious or malicious activity that could put your IT infrastructure at risk. This includes your IT network, your website, and any data your organization stores.

In the instance of some sort of security incident, such as a data breach, it's vital that you and your IT team are able to respond as quickly as possible. Every second counts when cybercriminals have access to your system. Any unnecessary delays could result in your customers' data being exposed or even being locked out of your network via ransomware.

Eliminates Unnecessary Work

Real time threat detection also eliminates the need for your IT team or cybersecurity firm to have to manually monitor or scan your network for cybersecurity risks. This has numerous benefits for you and your organization.

The first and most obvious is that you won't need to pay for unnecessary services or payroll hours. This, alone, is worth investing in real time threat detection, when ever business needs to stay as cost-effective and as competitive as possible.

This has the secondary benefit of helping your employees to feel more valued and invested in their work. No one likes feeling like their work doesn't matter or working below their abilities. Making highly skilled, trained, and knowledgeable IT professionals acting as over-priced security guards may make them feel unstimulated and under-appreciated. 

You have better work that they could be doing, as well, undoubtedly.

Catches Unknown Risks 

Even the most talented, knowledgeable, and highly-trained IT professionals can only detect a risk if they know what it is. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new threats and techniques.

That's probably the main advantage of real time security tools. They're connected to a central server and constantly being updated to protect your system against the latest threats.

Monitors ALL Network Activity

The generic image of automated security tools is of a pop-up warning you against some sort of questionable software you've downloaded from the internet. That's the most basic type of real time security, but it's far from the extent of what it can do.

Threat detection will also monitor all data requests and watch out for data being intercepted. It also watches out for unauthorized intrusions and considers what to do about them.

Protects Against AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) aren't only used to protect networks. Cybercriminals have been finding all manner of ways to use AI and ML to get around cybersecurity measures. 

Sometimes, you need a machine to be able to protect against machines.

Some of these AIs and bots can be amazingly sophisticated. They can monitor the behavior of verified users and modify their text or tone to match existing users. They can even get around many common bot detection solutions such as CAPCHA or ReCAPCHA.

Monitors EVERY Network Interaction

In some circumstances, where security is of the utmost importance, you need to examine every network interaction. This includes users with authorized logins. This can sometimes account for millions of accounts making who knows how many requests on a network.

There's essentially no IT department on Earth that's able to monitor that kind of traffic.

Imagine there's a hospital that has numerous systems maintained and run via automation. Think of what could happen if cybercriminals were able to access some of these systems for their own purposes. Therefore, it's of the utmost importance to monitor every interaction with the network. That means everything from logging onto Wifi to printing out a document.

Challenges of Detecting Threats in Real Time

Networks and IT infrastructure has become amazingly complex in the last 10 years. This presents all manner of challenges in monitoring your network in real time. Here are a few situations that cause today's cybersecurity to be so complicated and challenging.

Cloud Complexity

We rely on the cloud for so much of our daily duties and activities. The industry was already trending that way before COVID-19. The global pandemic, and all of the logistical challenges that followed in its wake, greatly accelerated that transition.

Cloud computing isn't just used for file storage any longer. Applications and sometimes even whole systems can exist in the cloud, thanks to new technology like containers. This raises all manner of problems for cybersecurity professionals, however.

When resources are stored in the cloud, they have no fixed location. They might be served from Indonesia one time and then Belgium the next. This raises all manner of issues about things like data privacy and sovereignty. 

It also makes it exponentially more difficult to monitor a network by geolocation alone. 

Access privileges and permissions become far more complicated in this virtualized world, as well.

Focusing on the Perimeter

A lot of cybersecurity professionals focus their energies on the network's perimeter. This creates numerous security risks for an organization.

First of all, many of today's cybersecurity risks bypass the perimeter entirely. Security risks like phishing often bypass the perimeter entirely.

The second risk is that a lack of internal security. If an unauthorized user is able to access your network, they'll be able to access virtually anything once they're inside. 

Focusing too much on a network's perimeter also lures some organizations into a false sense of security. They think their system is safe and secure, which can cause them to stop focusing on their network security.

Slow Response Time

It's far easier to break something than it is to build something new. As soon as a new product or updated version is released, hackers are hard at work figuring out how to exploit its vulnerabilities. No matter how robust the security solution, it's always going to lag behind the latest cybersecurity risks.

It's vital that you have a secondary line of defense, to help prevent any issues. Having a model of common behaviors and attacks alone can act as a secondary perimeter if your primary risk detection solution should miss something.

Lack of Integrated Tools

Many cybersecurity tools are proprietary. They're not exactly built to work together. This can cause all manner of security issues and oversights.

Imagine that you've got one tool that monitors network traffic. Then another watches out for unauthorized access. Someone from an appropriate geolocation or using credentials obtained from phish might access the network, in this instance, and then make a copy of your payroll.

This scenario could fail to trigger alarms for either of these failsafes, alone. 

Lack of IT Staff

Automated risk detection is not intended as a standalone solution. Any organization that's serious about staying secure (which should be all of them) needs to have some sort of security staff on call, as well. You'll need someone to investigate should something happen to set off the risk detection tools, for starters.

Common Cybersecurity Threats 

Creating a list of all of the cybersecurity threats in today's heavily digital world would fill a warehouse. Here are a few of the most common cybersecurity risks that automated risk detection safeguards your network against, however.

Malware

This is by far the most common cybersecurity risk that risk detection tools protect against. It's so common that it's the stereotypical image most people think of when they think of real time threat detection. Some sort of suspicious software is downloaded from somewhere, perhaps a website you've visited. Once it's downloaded, a window might pop up saying the download has been blocked for some reason. 

This scenario is also evidence of why you need some sort of risk detection solution in place. Can you imagine using the internet without any kind of antivirus in place? 

Suspicious software is just one form malware takes, though. Spyware, viruses, or trojan horses are other forms of malware that are all too common.

Most real time threat detection solutions stay fairly up-to-date with the latest malware, since it's so common. As we've stated previously, however, cybercriminals are always going to be faster than IT professionals. It's important that threat detection security tools monitor for secondary signs of malware, as well.

Suspicious network activity would be one good example. Why would a program called 'HappyCatMemeMaker.exe' download and transmit 1TB of customer info, for example? Your risk detection tools need to keep an eye out for these sorts of behaviors, as well.

Phishing

Phishing tricks someone who has access to a network into offering up sensitive information and giving an unauthorized user access. Some common phishing techniques might be a spoofed website that gathers sensitive data, for example.

As we discussed earlier when we were talking about perimeter attacks, phishing is far trickier to track and protect against than other forms of cybersecurity risks due to the fact the user has access credentials. Real time threat detection needs to monitor for secondary signals that indicate an unauthorized access is occurring.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that locks a user out of their system once it has access. This is one of the most disrupting, and often expensive, forms of cybersecurity risks and needs to be protected against at all costs.

DDoS Attacks

DDoS Attacks become increasingly common with each passing year. This has a lot to do with how cheap and easy bots are to access, these days. Security analysts have detected 6,019,888 global DDoS attacks in the first half of 2022, alone.

A DDoS Attack is when a system or network of users coordinate to perform some sort of action on a website. Many websites aren't equipped to handle above a certain level of traffic, for example. DDoS attacks that crash a website simply by directing too much traffic are all too common.

DDoS attacks have been getting bigger, more complicated, and more frequent recently. This is partially due to the rise of new technologies like 5G and the IoT. Many of these new tools are still under-protected and rife for exploitation.

Many analysts estimate that outages caused by DDoS attacks can cost organization between $300,000 and $1,000,000 per hour.

DDoS attacks often occur during times of geopolitical unrest. They were a common tactic during the 2020 U.S. elections, for instance. We have every reason to believe that these incidents are only going to continue to increase, given the current state of the world as well as recent cybersecurity trends.

Zero-Day Threats

Zero-day threats are the best example of why you need risk detection in place. A zero-day threat is the name for a cybersecurity risk that no one's seen before. Because they're entirely unknown, it's next to impossible to prepare for them.

That's where modern security tools like AI and ML come into play. Not even the savviest IT professional is able to analyze potentially billions of interactions each day. Any of these interactions that manage to sneak past your defenses could potentially be a Trojan Horse carrying ransomware to shut down your organization.

Real Time Threat Detection Future Proofs Your Business

Even full-time IT professionals could never hope to keep up with all of the new risks constantly arising in the cybersecurity sector. It's simply not possible to predict and prepare for every new risk and threat - especially if they've not been invented yet.

Real time risk detection is like having a team of highly-trained IT professionals that are constantly studying the latest trade periodicals and attending panels and workshops on web security and digital risk assessment. Considering how vital digital technology is for a business to be successful in today's economy, this is something that every business owner needs to consider if they want to be successful.

It also gives you, your employees, and your IT team the necessary peace of mind, knowing that your network is as secure as possible. This way, you're able to focus on doing your best work and delivering world-class products and customer service.

Are You Looking For Bulletproof Cybersecurity?

In today's digital business world, where powerful new technologies are evolving at the speed of though, it's vital to be ready for anything at any time. Technological tools like real time threat detection will play an increasingly important part in making sure your organization is as secure as possible—and stays that way!

If you're ready to solidify your cybersecurity so you're constantly prepared, get started today.

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