Building a Resilient Cyberdefense

Challenges

Government leaders know that if they want a resilient defense architecture, they need a response solution that actively roots out threat indicators — specifically, one with deep content visibility and correlated intelligence. Finding the advanced persistent threat (APT) and reducing the time to remediate requires a proactive, integrated approach. Intelligence-driven response incorporates speed, intelligence, and visibility.

The public sector is a target for malicious insiders, hacktivists, cyber- criminals, and nation-states. These attackers often carry out long-term attacks that include targeting individuals, departments, or entire organizations; designing custom exploits; and using stealth to hide malware. Attacks are usually financially or politically motivated and can include sensitive data theft, extortion, and sabotage. The impact of such attacks can be devastating, leading to disrupted communications, failed campaigns, damaged or stolen assets, and even the loss of life.

Confronted with these challenges, the public sector needs to build a resilient cyberdefense architecture that provides mission assurance. Capabilities must include situational awareness for a real-time understanding of the existing threat posture, correlation of global and local intelligence that enriches decision-making capabilities, and actionable, prioritized incident response. This set of capabilities reduces the attack window and time to remediate.

Solutions

The answer is a connected security strategy that correlates information gleaned from endpoint, network, and data controls. With the Security Connected approach from CSE, each security control improves the effectiveness of the others. In addition, a greater understanding of the assets needing protection in the form of continuous discovery ensures that the security controls are aligned with the reality of the operational environment. This level of deep insight is important for mitigat- ing several attacks and is absolutely essential for mitigating stealth attacks that bypass traditional controls.

Resilient cyberdefense also requires a decision framework offering centralized intelligence exchange and workflow that can aid in discovery, prevention, detection, analysis, and response. Contextual awareness in the form of user identities, risk scores for assets, reputation information, and packet reconstruction yield previously unattainable results, such as prioritization for incident response. By operationalizing these fundamental systems and processes, speed and visibility can be greatly enhanced and intelligence-driven response becomes a reality. The high false positives and undetected attacks of the past are minimized Thus detection rates increase and response times decrease.

There are three frameworks required for intelligence-driven response to be effective: decision, detection, and analysis.

Decision

The CSE decision framework operates as a centralized command and control platform. It provides a connection between external threat intelligence feeds (providing global insights such as malicious IPs, files, emails, and URLs) and local intelligence.

Local intelligence consists of discovered assets, known vulnerabilities, active attacks, and even existing security countermeasures. Beyond intelligence, the decision framework acts as a central point to aggregate and correlate solutions for endpoint, network, and data security.

Detection

The CSE detection framework is made up of security controls for endpoints, network, and data. These solutions provide preventative controls — and assist with incident detection by providing deep visibility and intelligent analysis of the inspected traffic. This combination is important for mitigating stealth malware. The detection framework is closely aligned with incident response and can detect suspicious activity and communicate with the decision framework to perform impact assessments and mount a response based on the most timely, relevant, correlated data.

Analysis

The CSE analysis framework provides the deepest level of visibility into network traffic and data. It should be used to address the most sophisticated attacks. It is quite common today for an adversary to disguise malicious code within legitimate data that is processed by legitimate applications. The intelligence gained from full packet inspection coupled with code analysis is necessary to obtain an actionable response to a suspicious, yet well disguised, file. Once a suspicious indicator is discovered, the depth and breadth of the multiple framework capabilities will result in a determination of the scope of the intrusion and reduction in incident response time.

Best Practices

  • Scale to support the environments that public sector organizations operate — millions of endpoints and high-bandwidth networks
  • Centralize the decision framework
  • Feed the decision framework with local risk information and global threat intelligence
  • Demand the ability to use a combined framework to support rapid response
  • Augment real-time threat mitigation with forensic analysis capabilities
  • Reduce the time needed to find, fix, and remediate attacks
  • Lower costs associated with threat acquisition, indecent response, and incident impact

Technology Partnerships

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