Why Behavioral Analytics Matter to Enterprise Cybersecurity

Why Behavioral Analytics Matter to Enterprise Cybersecurity

Why do behavioral analytics matter so much for your enterprise’s cybersecurity? In fact, what even are behavioral analytics? Which threats can it detect most easily? Why do those threats pose the most danger to your business? 

Your enterprise network continues to scale as more users connect to it and as you add more assets to it. Indeed, both human users and non-human actors such as applications to databases can make permanent changes to your business workflows. Fortunately, more digital actors often means more collaboration, more efficiency, and more profitability. Unfortunately, more actors also translates into more cybersecurity liabilities. 

Each actor, application, or digital asset can easily become a gateway for hackers to penetrate your network. Moreover, whether through malice or faulty programming, each actor can become an insider threat. In either case, they could wreak incalculable damage on your network and your business processes. 

However, monitoring each and every user manually proves a frustrating and frankly overwhelming task. No IT security team, no matter how well staffed, can keep up with this demand. Simply maintaining visibility on all of your users and applications can become an impossible task as your business grows. So what can your enterprise do?  

Behavioral Analytics allows your enterprise to solve this problem elegantly and efficiently. Here’s how: 

What are Behavioral Analytics?

Before we can really explore the benefits of behavioral analytics, we must first define our terms. How does this essential cybersecurity capability work? 

Behavioral Analytics examines trends, patterns, and activities among your users and applications. It looks for habits and quirks in workflows and creates profiles for each user. For example, Alice normally accesses Database B four times during the workday. With more next-generation technology, it also recognizes the endpoint she uses to make these access requests. The behavioral analytics tool records that fact and stores it, creating a behavioral baseline.

Now let’s say imagine one day Alice instead requests access to Database C, and does so ten times. Additionally, she makes this request from an endpoint thousands of miles from where she does normally. With the behavioral baseline established, your cybersecurity recognizes both of these behaviors as outside the baseline. 

Then, your cybersecurity can put an injunction on the access requests and alert your security team to investigate. Possibly, the behaviors represent an unusual day for Alice. For example, she could be on a business trip and in need of information not usually pertinent to her job title. Your security can let your cybersecurity know about the special circumstances and Alice can have access. 

However, this behavior could also indicate hackers compromising Alice’s credentials and attempting to access sensitive corporate data. In that case, your security team can initiate incident response and shut down the hackers, return Alice’s account to her control, and close any discovered vulnerabilities. The same process works for applications in their movements and data traffic and requests. 

In short, behavioral analytics uses machine learning and statistical analysis to monitor your users’ behaviors and find anomalies.

Why Behavioral Analytics Matters To Cybersecurity

In the famous science-fiction short story “The Moon Moth” by Jack Vance, the dénouement hinges on a simple fact; the imposter can change their appearance all they want, but cannot disguise their tastes and habits.

The same proves true for hackers in the real (but increasingly science-fiction feeling) world. According to privileged access management provider Centrify, 74% of enterprise breaches began with a compromised privileged account. Additionally, other studies indicate that more than 80% of breaches begin with compromised accounts. 

Put another way, hackers’ preferred method of attack involves disguising themselves as one of your own users. 

With the right credentials, the damage hackers can wreak proves mind-boggling. Theoretically, they could even destroy your network, inflicting damage to you through downtime and reputational loss. However, much like the above example, trying to do this would violate the baseline behaviors of your legitimate users.

Hackers can try to inflict damage, but every time they try they inevitably tip their hand. Behavioral analytics exists to recognize those moments and stop them, giving your team time to intervene.    

Also, this cybersecurity essential takes a huge burden off your IT security team. Due to the cybersecurity staffing crisis, they may feel overworked already dealing with user requests and threat hunting. Thankfully, this tool operates almost entirely automatically, helping your team streamline their investigations and saving them valuable time.      

How Can Your Enterprise Deploy It? 

For your enterprises, you first need to think of your individual use case. This can include considering your size, industry, user base, applications, IT infrastructure, and how you aim to scale and grow over the next five years. Of course, this should serve as the first step for any cybersecurity solution selection, yet enterprises often neglect this step. 

Instead, they prefer speed over optimal performance, selecting the solution that adequately solves their immediate problem. This inevitably leads to your IT infrastructure becoming flooded with solutions, which in turn can cause serious integration issues. 

Cybersecurity must become a long-term consideration for your enterprise, and you need a long term solution to match. Plain and simple. 

With these considerations firmly in place, you can next select a strong SIEM solution. Why? SIEM solutions frequently offer user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), the next-generation version of this technology. Additionally, SIEM solutions offer threat intelligence feeds to help your analytics discover modern and evolved threats rapidly. 

While SIEM may seem complicated, it actually functions as a log management and analysis tool, adding its own layer of behavioral analysis. With cybersecurity recognizing the inability of digital perimeters to deflect 100 percent of threats, this kind of threat detection proves increasingly vital. 

Don’t let hackers use your users’ accounts against you. Keep a close eye on them with your next-generation cybersecurity and analytic capabilities.  

You Can Start Researching Today! 

Our 2019 SIEM Buyer’s Guide covers the top solution providers in the field, including UEBA. We also dive into their other key capabilities and provide a Bottom Line analysis for each! Or consider our 2019 SIEM Vendor Map, a new resource on the market! 

Ben Canner

Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ben Canner