Cyber attackers are extremely sophisticated users that adopt creative and complex means to penetrate targeted networks. Previous generations experimented with cyber attacks as an opportunistic way to test programming abilities for limitations, and to discover future capabilities. The cyber attackers of today have an agenda.
Whether a large group, the disgruntled employee, the insider, or the lone wolf, the hacker epidemic is in need of remediation. These attacks compromise the data of hundreds of thousands of customers around the world every year, and can cost companies and government agencies millions of dollars, often along with their reputation.
Widely adopted common best practices in cyber security include proper employee training, company-wide security policies and cyber analytics, which give organizations a better idea of what is happening in their network. Being able to analyze threat data and come away with some kind of understandable conclusion makes it possible for organizations to stay ahead of threats.
But as those attacking our networks evolve, so must we. The method of using pure text analytics to relay information, giving the user only simple alerts, event logs, or aggregated lists of data, is no longer up to the level of our common enemies. It is no longer the most sophisticated method of analyzing data that is critical to business operations and continued corporate success.
Networks can be extremely complex, even without having to constantly search for vulnerabilities and track cyber threats as they move unnoticed, accessing all of your critical assets. Text-based analysis is ineffective at the high volume and velocity of the data in networks today. A cyber analytics environment should enable users to organize complex data in a simple and understandable way.
Moving from simple text-based event log cyber security analytics to a more visual and graphical interface is the key to learning more about how cyber threats behave, and to mitigate the ensuing attacks before they occur.
Data visualization can simplify digital relationships, so that anyone from security researchers, to IT professionals, to the owners of “Mom and Pop” stores can understand what is happening in their network, and identify where they have holes or gaps in their IT security posture.
Holistic Visualization of Data
Cyber security data visualization lets you detect similar activity patterns to simplify digital data relationships that would not have been found otherwise. Using dynamic and interactive visualization to tract these patterns, you can vastly reduce the time it takes to find and understand network breaches, and give analysts more insights into the workings of malware.
These patterns can also help companies identify malicious software or behaviour that may not have been found without the ability to track them as they move laterally within a system. By processing huge log files, information can be summarized into a graphically or visually simple way that allows for conclusions on incidents of compromise to be drawn in minutes versus days, weeks or months. Knowing where your vulnerabilities are, as well as how threats manage to infect once inside the network, is a great first step to securing a network.
With these intuitive visual methods becoming available for presenting complex information, business owners or managers who may not have the tech-savvy inclination that cyber security experts do, can still get visibility into their network and understand what is happening like never before.
This holistic approach to understanding a network, while also being able to delve down deep into enough detail can help IT security analysts and the average business owner to identify problems and find the solutions to them.
IT systems can be extremely complex, but data visualization simplifies information and allows for the accurate and elegant key to solving the complex problems that businesses worldwide face today.
About the Author: Chris Dodunski has over 20 years of experience in the field of telecommunications, data networking, and IT security. He has held senior roles in multiple Ottawa-based companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Trigence, Cryptocard, Mediaforce, and Catena Networks (acquired by Ciena). Chris currently holds the position of Chief Technology Officer at Phirelight Security Solutions Inc.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc. If you are interesting in contributing to The State of Security, contact us here.
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