Recently  a spotlight has been shed on the need for investing in Information Security solutions. The increase in cyber-attacks, the consistently high level of internal challenges, the appearance of more sophisticated types of long-running attacks (sometimes called Advanced Persistent Threats or APTs), the concerns regarding cyber-security following the Snowden revelations, the permanent challenge of dealing with Zero Day attacks leaving no time between becoming public and attacks happening: All this has led to an understanding for the need of better solutions.

Organizations have to assume that the attacker is already in their network. Every organization and every user is a potential target for attackers. On the other hand, with the increasing sophistication of attacks, it is becoming more difficult to identify the attackers. Finally, there is no such thing as the single perimeter anymore where organizations can place their security systems to prevent external attackers from entering the network. They might already have found their way via mobile devices, they might attack cloud services, etc. Complexity is increasing.

We see a new category of solutions evolving in the market that promise to help customers better solve these challenges. First, though, let’s look at current solutions which are not sufficient.

Standard IDS/IPS (Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems) in their concept as edge devices are obviously limited when there is no such well-defined perimeter. They also are limited when it comes to complex attack scenarios, involving a number of systems.

SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) is still, typically, a tool-driven approach that requires heavy customization. Unless you are able to configure these systems correctly, they will not deliver on your expectations in the setup of, for example,  an SOC (Security Operations Centre). When it comes to taking more and more real-time information into account for the analysis, they might show limitations regarding their scalability.

Next Generation Firewalls again are an edge device, suffering from the conceptual limitations of such devices.

Services providing real-time security information  - regarding newly detected zero day attacks, for instance - deliver valuable information, but they don’t fix the problem. Furthermore, they do not provide the analysis of what is happening in the internal infrastructure.

Recently, though, we have observed a growing number of vendors moving towards integrated methods for Real-time Security Intelligence, combining various technologies and services:

  • Big Data analytics, enabling the analysis of large amounts of data, based on both rules and patterns;
  • Support for both real-time analytics and historical analysis, which can facilitate identifying new events as being related to those that occurred sometime in the past;
  • Integration to existing sources of information, including SIEM tools;
  • Integration with real-time security information services that provide up-to-date information about newly detected security challenges;
  • Services that provide automatic updated rules and patterns for analytics, i.e. configurations that reduce the need for customers to manually keep the configuration of the Real-time Security Intelligence systems up-to-date;
  • Services that support customers with analytics, i.e. expert services supporting the customer’s SOC;
  • Integration with IT GRC solutions, translating the identified challenges into risk information visible in dashboards for IT and business people.
Real-time Security Intelligence will become a mix of services and software. It will combine various offerings that exist today, but are separate from each other. It will allow customers to get a better insight into what already is happening in their networks and what currently is going on. Some vendors even provide the capability of changing network configurations, based on their analytical services.

We expect to see rapid evolution in this area, with further services to be added. A strong potential is in integrating network configuration management systems with Real-time Security Intelligence, allowing firewall settings, for example, to be changed on the fly. Another example is integration with SDCI (Software Defined Computing Infrastructures) to adapt the configuration of networks, storage, and virtual machines when new security challenges are identified, to automatically and dynamically minimize the attack surface.

This evolution towards Real-time Security Intelligence that we observe as of now, has some vendors focusing more on Big Data security analytics while others put more emphasis on online services, but this is just scratching the surface. There will be fundamental changes in the way we do security and we run SOCs, going well beyond just being “Next Generation SIEM”.

Learn more about Real-time Security Intelligence and how to successfully deal with your cyber security challenges at the upcoming EIC 2014. And don’t miss our upcoming webinar on “Mitigate targeted attacks with privileged account analytics” – not about Realtime Security Analytics primarily, but about one approach on mitigating the risks of becoming a victim of targeted attacks.