Amazon opens data center in Germany

24.10.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Today, AWS (Amazon Web Services) announced the opening of their new region, located in Frankfurt, Germany. The new facilities actually contain two availability zones, i.e. at least two distinct data centers. AWS can now provide a local solution to customers in mainland Europe, located close to one of the most important Internet hubs. While on one hand this is important from a technical perspective (for instance, with respect to potential latency issues), it is also an important move from a compliance perspective. The uncertainty many customers feel regarding data protection laws in countries such as Germany, as well as the strictness of these regulations, is a major inhibitor preventing the rapid adoption of cloud services.

Having a region in Germany is interesting not only for German customers, but also for cloud customers from other EU countries. AWS claims that, since they provide a pure-play IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud service that just provides the infrastructure on which the VMs (virtual machines) and customers’ applications reside, their customers have full control over their own data, especially since the AWS Cloud HSM allows the customers to hold their encryption keys securely in the cloud. This service relies on FIPS 140-2 certified hardware and is completely managed by the customer via a secure protocol. Notably, the customer can decide on where his data resides. AWS does not move customer data outside of the region where the customer places it. With the new region, a customer can design a high availability infrastructure within the EU, i.e. Germany and Ireland.

KuppingerCole strongly recommends that customers encrypt their data in the cloud in a way that allows them to retain control over their keys. However, it must be remembered that the responsibility of the data controller stretches from end to end. It is not simply limited to protecting the data held on a cloud server; it must cover the on-premise, network, and end user devices. The cloud service provider (AWS) is responsible for some but not all of this. The data controller needs to be clear about this division of responsibilities and take actions to secure the whole process, which may involve several parties.

Clearly, all this depends on which services the customers are using and the specific use they make of them. Amazon provides comprehensive information around the data compliance issues; additional information around compliance with specific German Laws is also provided (in German). The AWS approach should allow customers to meet the requirements regarding the geographical location of data and, based on the possession of keys, keep it beyond control of foreign law enforcement. However, there is still a grey area: Amazon operates the hardware infrastructure and hypervisors. There was no information available regarding where the management of this infrastructure is located, whether it is fully done from the German data center, 24×7, or whether there is a follow-the-sun or another remote management approach.

Cloud services offer many potential benefits for organizations. These include flexibility to quickly grow and shrink capacity on demand and to avoid costly hoarding of internal IT capacity. In many cases, technical security measures provided by a cloud service provider exceed those provided on-premise, and the factors inhibiting a move to cloud services are more psychological than technical. However, any business needs to be careful to avoid becoming wholly dependent upon one single supplier.

In sum, this move by Amazon reduces the factors inhibiting German and other European customers from moving to the cloud, at least at the IaaS level. For software companies from outside of the EU offering their solutions based on the AWS infrastructure as cloud services, there is less of a change. Moving up the stack towards SaaS, the questions of who is doing data processing, who is in control of data, or whether foreign law enforcement might bypass European data regulations, are becoming more complex.

Hence, we strongly recommend customers to use a standardized risk-based approach for selecting cloud service providers and ensure that this approach is approved by their legal departments and auditors. While the recent Amazon announcement reduces inhibitors, the legal aspects of moving to the cloud (or not) still require thorough analysis involving experts from both the IT and legal/audit side.

More information on what to consider when moving to the cloud is provided in Advisory Note: Selecting your cloud provider – 70742 and Advisory Note: Security Organization, Governance, and the Cloud – 71151.


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Mobile, Cloud, and Active Directory

16.10.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Cloud IAM is moving forward. Even though there is no common understanding of which features are required, we see more and more vendors – both start-ups and vendors from the traditional field of IAM (Identity and Access Management) – entering that market. Aside from providing an alternative to established on-premise IAM/IAG, we also see a number of offerings that focus on adding new capabilities for managing external users (such as business partners and consumers) and their access to Cloud applications – a segment we call Cloud User and Access Management.

There are a number of expectations we have for such solutions. Besides answers on how to fulfill legal requirements regarding data protection laws, especially in the EU, there are a number of other requirements. The ability to manage external users and customers with flexible login schemes and self-registration, inbound federation of business partners and outbound federation to Cloud services, and a Single Sign-On (SSO) experience for users are among these. Another one is integration back to Microsoft Active Directory and other on-premise identity stores. In general, being good in hybrid environments will remain a key success factor and thus a requirement for such solutions in the long run.

One of the vendors that have entered the Cloud IAM market is Centrify. Many will know Centrify as a leading-edge vendor in Active Directory integration of UNIX, Linux, and Apple Macintosh systems. However, Centrify has grown beyond that market for quite a while, now offering both a broader approach to Privilege Management with its Server Suite and a Cloud User and Access Management solution with its User Suite.

In contrast to other players in the Cloud IAM market, Centrify takes a somewhat different approach. On one hand, they go well beyond Cloud-SSO and focus on strong integration with Microsoft Active Directory, including supporting Cloud-SSO via on-premise AD – not a surprise when viewing the company’s history. On the other hand, their primary focus is on the employees. Centrify User Suite extends the reach of IAM not only to the Cloud but also to mobile users.

This makes Centrify’s User Suite quite different from other offerings in the Cloud User and Access Management market. While they provide common capabilities such as SSO to all type of applications, integration with the Active Directory, capabilities for both strong authentication of external users, and provisioning to Cloud/SaaS applications, their primary focus is not on simply extending this to external users. Instead, Centrify puts its focus on extending their reach to supporting both Cloud and Mobile access, provided by a common platform, delivered as a Cloud service.

This approach is unique, but it makes perfect sense for organizations that want to open up their enterprises to both better support mobile users as well as to give easy access to Cloud applications. Centrify has strong capabilities in mobile management, providing a number of capabilities such as MDM (Mobile Device Management), mobile authentication, and integration with Container Management such as Samsung Knox. All mobile access is managed via consistent policies.

Centrify User Suite is somewhat different from the approach other vendors in the Cloud User and Access Management market took. However, it might be the single solution that fits best to the needs of customers, particularly when they are primarily looking at how to enable their employees for better mobile and Cloud access.


SAP enters the Cloud IAM market – the competition becomes even tougher

14.10.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

The market for Cloud IAM and in particular Cloud User and Access Management – extending the reach of IAM to business partners, consumers, and Cloud applications through a Cloud service – is growing, both with respect to market size and service providers. While there were a number of start-ups (such as Ping Identity, Okta and OneLogin) creating the market, we now see more and more established players entering the field. Vendors such as Microsoft, Salesforce.com or Centrify are already in. Now SAP, one of the heavyweights in the IT market, has recently launched their SAP Cloud Identity Service.

The focus of this new service is managing access for all types of users, their authentication, and Single Sign-On, to on-premise applications, SAP Cloud applications, and 3rd party Cloud services. This includes capabilities such as SSO, user provisioning, self-registration and user invitation, and more. There is also optional support for social logins.

Technically, there is a private instance per tenant running on the SAP Cloud Identity Service, which acts as Identity Provider (IdP) for Cloud services and other SAML-ready SaaS applications, but also as an interface for external user authentication and registration. This connects back to the on-premise infrastructure for accessing SAP systems and other environments, providing also SSO for users already logged in to SAP systems.

With this new offering, SAP is becoming an interesting option in that field. While they do not sparkle with a large number of pre-configured Cloud services – some other players claim to have more than 3,000 Cloud services ready for on-boarding – SAP provides a solid conceptual approach to Cloud IAM, which is strongly tied in all the SAP HANA platform, the SAP HANA Cloud, and the on-premise SAP infrastructures.

This tight integration into SAP environments, together with the fact that SAP provides its own, certified data center infrastructure, plus the fact that it is from SAP (and SAP buyers tend to buy from SAP) makes it a strong contender in the emerging Cloud User and Access Management market.


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From preventive to detective and corrective IAM

08.08.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Controls in security and GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance) systems are commonly structured in preventive, detective, and reactive controls. When we look at IAM/IAG (Identity and Access Management/Governance), we can observe a journey from the initial focus on preventive controls towards increasingly advanced detective and corrective controls.

Initially IAM started with a preventive focus. This is done by managing users and access controls in target systems. Setting these entitlement rights prevents users from performing activities they should not perform. Unfortunately, this rarely works perfectly. A common example is access entitlements that are granted but not revoked.

With the introduction of Access Governance capabilities, some forms of detective controls were introduced. Access recertification focuses on detecting incorrect entitlements. The initial “access warehouse” concept as well as various reports also provided insight into these details. Today’s more advanced Access Intelligence and Access Risk Management solutions also focus on detecting issues.

Some vendors have already added integration with User Activity Monitoring (e.g. CA Technologies), SIEM (e.g. NetIQ), or Threat Detection Systems (e.g. IBM, CyberArk). These approaches move detection from a deferred approach towards near-time or real-time detection. If unusual activity is detected, alerts can be raised.

The next logical step will be corrective IAM – an IAM that automatically reacts by changing the settings of preventive controls. Once unusual activity is detected, actions are put in place automatically. The challenge therein is obvious: how to avoid interrupting the business in the case of “false positives”? And how to react adequately on “false positives”, without over-reacting?

In fact, corrective IAM will require moving action plans that today are in drawers (best case) or just in the mind of some experts (worst case) into defined actions, configured in IAM systems.

However, with the tightening threat landscape, with the knowledge that the attacker already might be inside the system, and with the IAM covering not only employees and internal systems, but business partners, customers, and the Cloud, IAM has to become far more responsive. IAM needs to become not only “real-time detective”, but also needs to have corrective controls put in place. This will be the next logical step in the evolution of IAM, which started way back with preventive controls.


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Can EU customers rely on US Cloud Providers?

05.08.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

The recent US court decision has added to the concerns of EU customers (and of other regions such as APAC) regarding the use of Cloud services from US-based providers. The decision orders Microsoft to turn over a customer’s emails stored in Ireland to the US government. The decision required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored.

While the judge has temporarily suspended the order from taking effect to allow Microsoft time to appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, it remains, like the sword of Damocles, hanging atop of the US Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

The decision further increases the uncertainty many customers feel regarding the Cloud, and is the latest since the Snowden revelations. So let’s look at the facts behind the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).

In fact, the most important issue of the Cloud is control, not location. There have been critics against many of the current regulations focusing on the location instead of control. When appropriate security controls are in place, why should it make a difference whether data is stored in an EU datacenter or in an US datacenter? The location argument is somewhat invalid anyhow given the fact that data might be routed through other locations, based on how the IP protocol stack works. This caused the recent discussion about an EU Cloud.

However, if control is the better concept in these days of the Internet and the Cloud, the court decision has some logic. The alternative – it is about location, not about control – would in fact mean: A US criminal can hide data simply by storing it outside the US in the Cloud.

Notably, the recent US court decision (still subject to appeal) does not provide blanket access to data held. In this case it appears that the data is related to criminal activity. It is common in virtually all legislations, that data can be seized by law enforcement if they have suspicion that a crime has been committed.

However, there is a risk that your data could legally be seized by law enforcement in a non EU country (e.g. the US, Russia, etc.) on suspicion of an act that is not a crime in your country and which may not have been committed in the country wishing to seize it. There have been a number of contentious example of UK citizens being extradited to the US for these kinds of reason.

The differences in laws and legal system between various countries and court decisions, such as the recent one, do not make it easier for EU customers to trust non-EU Cloud Providers. In fact, uncertainty seems to increase, not decrease. Waiting for harmonization of legislation or trade agreements such as (TTIP Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is not an answer.

Organizations today are in a situation where on one hand business wants new types of IT services, some only available from the Cloud. On the other hand, there is this uncertainty about what can be done or not.

The only thing organizations can (and must) do is to manage this uncertainty in the same way as for other kinds of risks. Businesses are experienced in deciding which risks to take. This starts with a structured approach to Cloud Service Provider selection, involving not only IT but also procurement and legal. It includes legal advice to understand the concrete legal risks. It also includes analyzing the information sensitivity and information protection requirements. In this way, the specific risk of using individual Cloud Service Providers and different deployment models such as public or private Clouds can be analyzed. It transforms uncertainty into a good understanding of the risk being taken.

KuppingerCole’s research around Cloud Assurance and Information Stewardship and our Advisory Services, for instance, can help you with this.

Notably, the frequently quoted answer “let’s just rely on EU CSPs” oversimplifies the challenge. It needs real alternatives and pure play EU offerings. Both are rare. Many EU offerings are not feature-equal or are far more expensive; others are not pure play EU. The same applies for other regions, for sure. Yes, these services must be taken into consideration. But “EU is good, US is bad” is too simple when looking at all aspects. It is better to understand the real risks of both and choose the best way based on this – which might include on-premise IT. The basic answer to the question in the title simply is: “It depends.” The better answer is: “Understand the real risk.”

This article was originally published in the KuppingerCole Analysts’ View Newsletter.


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IBM to acquire CrossIdeas – further expanding its IAM/IAG portfolio

31.07.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

A while ago I blogged about IBM being back as a leader in the IAM/IAG (Identity Access Management/Governance) market. Today the news that IBM is to acquire CrossIdeas, an Italian vendor in the Access Governance market, hit the wire.

CrossIdeas is a key player in Access Governance in its home market, but also had some recent success in other markets, both in Europe and the U.S. The company originally started in authorization and role management. Over time, CrossIdeas – formerly known as Engiweb Security before a management-buy-out – added further capabilities. At the center of their solution today is their activity-based approach on SoD (Segregation of Duties) which relies on activities within business processes to model SoD rules. This approach allows auditors and business departments creating and editing SoD rules without specific IT knowledge.

Aside of the strength in role mining/modeling and the SoD approach (which notably provides sophisticated support for SAP environments), CrossIdeas’ product IDEAS also provides a well thought-out approach on access risk analysis and management. Furthermore, there are standard capabilities for Access Governance such as Access Recertification.

Furthermore, IDEAS provides a standard integration with IBM Security Identity Manager, which has been deployed at customers before.

From IBM’s perspective, CrossIdeas and its IDEAS product add several important capabilities to the IBM portfolio. The strength in managing SoDs from a business perspective relying on business process knowledge is one of these. Access risk management is the other. Combined with the existing integration with IBM Security Identity Manager, IDEAS can provide immediate benefit to IBM. It fits well into IBM’s strategy on IAM/IAG, enhancing IBM’s offerings for “policy-based Identity and Access Analytics”.

From KuppingerCole’s perspective, IBM is further strengthening its position in the IAM/IAG market. Being “ready-to-use” based on the existing integration, we expect to see further integration at all levels – platform technology, user interfaces, etc. – into the IBM IAM/IAG portfolio quite soon.

My final paragraph of the other blog linked at the beginning has been:

I always appreciate strong competitors in a market – it helps drive innovation, which is good for the customers. The IBM investment in IAM is also a good indicator of the relevance of the market segment itself – IAM is one of the key elements for Information Security. IBM’s strategy also aligns well with my view that IAM is just one part of what you need for Information Security. Integration beyond the core IAM capabilities is needed. So, in light of IBM’s current news around IAM, I think it is worth having a closer look at them again.

Nothing to add to this.

 

Related KuppingerCole Research

Leadership Compass Access Governance

Executive View IBM Security QRadar

Leadership Compass Dynamic Authorization Management

Leadership Compass Identity Provisioning

Buyer’s Guide Access Governance and Identity Provisioning

Advisory Note Access Governance Architectures

Executive View IBM Security Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On

Product Report CrossIdeas IDEAS


More questions IAM buyers should ask

03.07.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Earlier this year, I published the Buyer’s Guide: Access Governance and Provisioning. That document provides condensed information about key selection criteria for Identity Provisioning and Access Governance products, while also posing questions that buyers should ask of vendors.

I focused on “top 10 non-functional selection criteria” or “top 10 questions to ask the vendors”. As always with such lists that focus on the top xx, some aspects are not covered. The feedback I got so far adds some interesting aspects.

One is localization, i.e. support for different languages, character sets, etc. Given that, in particular, Access Governance is a business user application, it must be localized. Thus, questions such as the following ones might be considered:

  • Which languages are supported by the end user interfaces? (maybe with a list of languages a buyer specifically needs)
  • Can further languages be added?
  • Is there support for double-byte characters in the user interface and the search capabilities?

The second are is reporting. This is not only about advanced “Identity/Access Analytics”, but also about basic reporting capabilities. Questions to ask here are, for instance:

  • How do you modify an existing report?
  • How do you implement a new one?
  • Do the reports support multiple languages? Can this be implemented?

Clearly, there are far more criteria to look at when doing a thorough product selection. That is why the Buyer’s Guide is only one part of KuppingerCole services. Leadership Compass documents help in identifying relevant vendors and their particular strengths. Other reports such as Product Reports and Executive Views dive into more detail. Our advisory services include IAM/IAG maturity analysis, i.e. understanding the maturity of the current state of your IAM/IAG program, but also support the selection of vendors, backed by comprehensive, fine-grained questionnaires for RFI (Request For Information) processes. Just talk with my colleagues at sales@kuppingercole.com if you need more than the Top 10 questions.


Extending your Active Directory to the Cloud

01.07.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Most organizations have a Microsoft Active Directory in place. The Active Directory (or, in short, AD) builds the foundation of their on-premises infrastructure for managing users, performing their primary network authentication and authentication to AD-integrated applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server, and some network infrastructure services including client configuration management based on Group Policies. AD is a purpose-built directory service that is optimized for supporting these requirements. One of the specific capabilities are Group Policies – client management commonly is out-of-scope of directory services. Another example are the sophisticated replication features of AD. These are required to provide (amongst others) seamless authentication and load-balancing of authentication requests and user management.

This works well for the employees and the on-premise IT infrastructure. However, when it comes to external users, things becoming more challenging. While most organizations manage the “long term” externals – the ones who spend a lot of time on-premises, need access to internal IT systems and frequently even have a company e-mail address – in the Active Directory, organizations struggle with managing all the other externals such as employees of business partners with occasional access only to a selected application or customers.

The purpose-built AD is not targeted towards these use cases. On-boarding and off-boarding thousands of employees of an insurance broker or managing the local operators of an airline across the world are not the standard use cases for AD. And what about managing millions of customers that need access to some applications?

There are workarounds, but none of these workarounds is really convincing. These external users might be managed in a separate forest or in a separate domain within an existing forest. They might even be managed within an existing domain (particularly in ADs that follow a single-domain approach), but that makes security management pretty cumbersome. And we do not yet speak about some challenges such as schema changes for specific requirements or the replication issues caused by managing a multitude of users than just the employees in the Active Directory.

The common answer on these challenges is to set up another, separate directory service for external users or customers. Microsoft’s lightweight answer is AD LDS (Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services). Other vendors provide their LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory servers to manage these users and authenticate them.

But there is another answer now: cloud-based User and Access Management as part of the emerging cloud IAM offerings. Several vendors deliver solutions that allow managing customers and external users in integration with the existing on-premise infrastructure. Microsoft’s own answer in that field is the Azure Active Directory, a cloud-based directory service that it is quite different from the traditional Active Directory. It supports flexible schemas, scales virtually unlimited (Microsoft Office 365 is based on it), and provides functionality that helps managing external users far better than the on-premise Active Directory can do – and potentially better than other on-premise directory services can do. With upcoming extensions, Microsoft will further add capabilities for managing external users.

There are challenges such as synchronizing and/or federating the existing users of AD and other directory services to Azure Active Directory (or other services in that field).

Nevertheless, there are new options now to extend the existing AD to the cloud and to serve new business demand of on-boarding, off-boarding, and managing business partners and customers – delivered by Microsoft and other players in the market. This creates a situation for organizations using AD in which they should start reviewing and rethinking their Active Directory strategy. There are various options for extending the on-premise AD to the cloud, and it is time for defining the future strategy around AD. That future, for most organizations, will be hybrid.

This article was originally published in the KuppingerCole Analysts’ View Newsletter.


Dynamic Authorization Management and ABAC: The journey is the reward

30.05.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

Chinese philosopher Confucius is said to be the originator of the saying “the journey is the reward”. What does it mean? In its historic meaning, it says that by moving forward people will benefit, even while they might not reach perfection. Applied to projects, it means that continuous improvements, new understandings and small successes over time are the reward – not the ideal end-state.

In IT, a project might never reach its desired end-state, at least not at enterprise scale. One example is what is commonly referred to as Dynamic Authorization Management (as a discipline) or ABAC – Attribute-based Access Control – (as a theoretical concept). Organizations might succeed in a particular project on Dynamic Authorization Management, but they will rarely manage transforming their entire Identity and Access Management in such a way that every single authorization decision is made dynamically, using a central authorization system and relying on one or more attributes (i.e. attribute-based).

There is no doubt that Dynamic Authorization Management is the better way for authorizing access to information and systems, compared to statically assigned entitlements at the system-level or the lack of a valid, fine-grained authorization concept. Relying on centrally managed policies provides many benefits: consistency of authorization policies, always up-to-date policies, and reduced administrative efforts, to name just a few. Another important point is that Dynamic Authorization Management allows making authorization decisions in the context of the user, if integrated with versatile, risk- and context-based authentication.

While the discussion about RBAC (Role-based Access Control) versus ABAC (Attribute-based Access Control) is somewhat artificial and theoretical, moving towards Dynamic Authorization Management is a must for mature IAM/IAG infrastructures. There are too many advantages. Notably, Dynamic Authorization Management is not new. Some of today’s products came to the market back in the 1990’s. In mainframe infrastructures, Dynamic Authorization Management even dates back to the 1970’s.

However, there are four challenges:

  • Existing applications
  • Software architects and developers
  • Providers of Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software
  • Cloud Service Provider (CSPs) and standards bodies

Most existing applications do not support the externalization of authorization decisions to a Dynamic Authorization Management system. Changing such applications is at best expensive and cumbersome, but for many applications this is just impossible.

Software architects and developers might be hard to convince to change the way they implement security (or what they believe is security). Despite the fact that IAM/IAG and software development commonly are separate siloes in IT organizations, this is the challenge that is easiest to solve. Explain the need and provide simple interfaces to the Dynamic Authorization Management system that make the developer’s life easier, not more complex, and you will succeed.

For providers of COTS software, things are more difficult. They rarely support standards such as XACML (Extensible Access Control Markup Language) to interface with Dynamic Authorization Management systems. Even while you might have a well-working gate from procurement to Information Security, that does not help unless the COTS software provides the required interfaces.

Things become even worse with the Cloud. There is just no adequate authorization standard for the Cloud yet. Given the fact that a very significant portion of Cloud services still lacks support for basic standards such as SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), this is no surprise. This will change, but it will take a while.

There are some workarounds such as applying Dynamic Authorization Management at the level of XML Gateways, API Gateways, or Web Access Management solutions. However, there will remain many applications which just can’t be moved to Dynamic Authorization Management within a foreseeable period of time.

Despite these challenges, Dynamic Authorization Management is a must for every organization in maturing their IAM/IAG infrastructure and improving Information Security. Thus it is latest time for evaluating these concepts and starting to use them.

But even then, Dynamic Authorization Management must be considered as a long journey, where every single application on-boarded is considered a reward.


How to identify attacks? Know your enemies – and what they already might do.

26.05.2014 by Martin Kuppinger

In a panel discussion I had at EIC 2014 with Roy Adar, Vice President of Product Management at CyberArk, Roy brought up an interesting number: according to research, attacks start on average 200 days before they are detected. Taking into account the Gaussian distribution behind this average, some attackers might have been active for years before they were detected. And who knows whether all of them are detected at all.

How to react to this? There are several elements in the answer. Protect your systems with various layers of security. Use anti-malware tools, even while they won’t catch every malware and every attacker. Encrypt your sensitive information. Educate your employees. These and other “standard” actions are quite common. But there is at least one other thing you should do: analyze the behavior of users in your network.

I do not mean user tracking in the sense of “do they do their job” (which is hard to implement in countries with strong worker councils), I’m talking about identifying anomalies in their behavior. Attackers are characterized by uncommon behavior. Users might access far more documents than average or than they did before. Accounts might be used at unusual times. Users might log in from suspicious locations. Sometimes, it is not a single incident, but a combination of things, eventually over a longer period of time, which is typical for a specific form of attack, especially in the case of long-running APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats).

There is an increasing number of technologies available to analyze such patterns. Standard SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools are one approach, however analysis of anomalies might be difficult to perform based on rules. However, there is an increasing number of solutions that rely on more advanced pattern-matching technologies. These can, based on specific mathematical algorithms, turn log events and other information into patterns (in fact complex matrices), and analyze these for anomalies. There might be some noise in the sense of false negatives in the results, but this is true for rule-based analytics as well. Combination of such analytical technologies can make a lot of sense – if you bring together specialized analytics for areas such as Privilege Management (for instance, CyberArk’s PTA), User Activity Monitoring, pattern-based analytics, and traditional SIEM, you might learn a lot about these anomalies and hence about the attacks that are already running and the attackers behind them.

From our perspective, all this is converging into a new discipline we call Real-Time Security Intelligence (RSI). There is a new report out on that topic. I also recently wrote another post on RSI.

Even while you might feel it being too early to move towards RSI, you should put your focus on how to learn more about the attackers that are already inside your network. Understanding anomalies and patterns with new types of analytical technologies might help.


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