Addressing intrusion in cybersecurity is becoming a more complex issue every day. Firewalls can only do so much, and it’s up to event threat detection and response teams to ensure host, network, and application security.
“Network intrusions have become the new norm. Phishing attacks are a $5.3 billion industry, and attacks are expected to exceed $9 billion in 2018, according to the FBI.” – eSecurityPlanet
By examining the most common cyber intrusions, decision-makers can better understand the risk that poor cybersecurity lays upon that company’s bottom line. Thankfully, there are several different approaches to cyber intrusion detection, as well as prevention tools and techniques to maintain network integrity.
What Constitutes a Cyber Intrusion?
An intrusion in cybersecurity is any externally-forced incident that threatens the security or function of a host, application, or network. Anytime that an organization’s digital infrastructure operates off-course from its normal operations is either a glitch in the software (IT incident) or an intrusion (cyber attack).
Is a Cyber Intrusion Different from an Event Threat Incident?
In both the IT and cybersecurity industries, the term “incident” essentially means any network or software malfunction. When those malfunctions result from tampering from a non-friendly system or person, the incident is an intrusion.
As such, a cyber intrusion, event threat, cyber incident, and cyber attack are all references to the same thing. Many of these terms are interchangeable, or a company’s cybersecurity policies and procedures may define these terms more specifically for internal purposes.
What is Cyber Intrusion Detection?
Cyber intrusion detection is any and all efforts devoted to identifying a hack, malware, or security breach. The quality of an organization’s intrusion detection determines whether an intrusion is able to accomplish any malicious activity once it has breached the firewall.
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Firewalls typically exist as a first line of defense for an organization. Often, the larger the organization, the stronger the firewalls. As such, hackers must create more complex intrusion methods to breach the wall.
Many intrusions are silent and not easy to detect. However, robust intrusion detection teams can spot these attacks by reason of anomalies – the behavior just beyond the firewall is unusual, such as bots trying to retrieve malware commands from outside the network – or by signature – the behavior matches historical data from similar intrusions.
What Different Kinds of Intrusion in Cybersecurity are There?
Everyday, hacker ingenuity seems to breed a new version of existing viruses and malware to disrupt an organization’s host, applications, or network. The “holy grail” of intrusions are network intrusions, because the hacker or malware moved beyond a host or single application and into the entire network.
Among the most common types of intrusions are:
- Malware and trojans
- Viruses and spyware
There is some overlap among these different types of intrusions. Additionally, other intrusions employ more than one tactics listed below. The goal of intrusion detection is to spot them all and initiate incident response before the cyber attack damages any part of the network.
The most feared form of cyber intrusion is a worm. Worms (or worm malware) is a highly sophisticated virus that once planted can propagate at a surprising rate without the need of any human interaction.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS)
A distributed denial of service, or DDOS, is a cyber attack from several external locations targeting the functionality of a program, website, or web service. A hacker’s goal in a DDOS attack is to disable a digital tool either permanently or temporarily.
A DDOS attack is often coordinated by multiple hackers or systems, but it doesn’t have to be. When an attack originates from a single source, most security experts refer to it simply as a denial of service (DOS).
Malware and Trojans
As both names imply, malware are programmed commands that harm the functionality of a network or application. Trojans enter under false pretenses, similar to a phishing attack. The goal is to avoid detection and then disrupt a network upon an unsuspecting employee initiating the malware packets.
Malicious botnets, a series of interconnected devices, use “spiders” or nefarious coding to gain access to computers in order to carry out website, computer, or broader Internet based attacks. Most company personnel release these botnets thinking that they are going about their work routine.
Viruses and Spyware
Operating much the same way as trojan malware, spyware enters a network undetected in an effort to steal sensitive information. Most spyware targets logins and personally identifiable information (PII).
The most common phishing scenario occurs when an employee clinks a link or attachment that unleashes malware onto their computer. Phishing is prevalent in scam or spam emails. The number of phishing attacks in the United States is astounding and usually indicates poor staff training on cybersecurity.
In a ransomware scenario, the attacker may use any one or combination of the intrusions listed above and offer an ultimatum to the victim. By paying off the hacker, he/she will then release the malware or DOS on that network or destroy stolen data.
What are Some Unique Cybersecurity Challenges for Medium and Large Businesses?
These days, no business – including freelancers or “mom and pop” shops – is safe from these kinds of intrusions. However, the bigger question is, who is the likelier target.
In most cases, the likely targets are those with access to large volumes of sensitive information. Some of these organizations are small businesses. In fact, the number of supporting third-party vendors with access to critical data is growing.
But medium and large businesses undoubtedly carry vast stores of information, from payment data to employee performance reviews to medical records and more. And if the richness of the vulnerable data wasn’t enough, the challenge of busting down the firewalls of a large corporation is attractive to most accomplished hackers. Here are some of the common ways that this occurs.
The DDOS attacks discussed above are an example of hackers coordinating their attacks toward a common goal of overwhelming a network or web service. The bigger the prize, the more incentive there is for a premeditated intrusion attempt from seasoned hackers and malware programmers.
High-performing event threat detection (such as MDRs) can manage all or most of these coordinated attacks. If necessary, MDR incident response teams can isolate successful intrusions and seriously limit their effects. Often, personnel leverage these coordinated attacks to perform root cause analyses and make it significantly less likely that a future coordinated attack could penetrate the organization’s first line of defense.
Silent, Complex Intrusions
Some intrusions are so insidious that they lie dormant for weeks or months before they carry out their malicious intentions. Sometimes the only way to spot these attacks is when the malware begins sending “rogue outbound traffic” to the hacker or botnet server. These viruses or worms establish an endpoint within your network and await further instructions.
Undetected, these intrusions can disable software, steal or destroy data long before security teams notice them. Experienced hackers can create intrusions stealthy enough that mediocre security teams will never find them.
Backdoor Attacks from Third-Party Vendors
Backdoor attacks through third-party vendors is arguably the most significant vulnerability to medium and large enterprises. Corporations with the latest and greatest in cybersecurity protocols are still at risk if one of their third-party vendors lacks the same priorities.
Hackers know this and frequently try to disrupt large networks through the lax security of that business’s contractors. That’s why any cybersecurity strategy must also include third-party management. There are ways to ensure that the companies to whom you outsource operations are safe from cyber intrusions.
How Can Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Assist with Cyber Intrusion Detection?
Managed detection and response (MDR) is an upgrade from the monitoring model common among most managed security service providers (MSSPs). It’s not enough to merely notice something out of the ordinary on the perimeter of an organization’s cybersecurity. MDR focuses on sending out virtual “picket lines” and reinforcing those lines immediately in the event of a cyber threat.
Replaces Outdated Security Teams
MDR removes the necessity of the internal security teams that many medium and large businesses may not be structured to support. Cybersecurity has become a faster and more agile industry. Sadly, even large corporations still lay the burden of cybersecurity on their IT teams whose main job is to optimize digital operations rather than protect them.
Also, many third-party managed security services use outmoded forms of cyber intrusion detection. In the most maddening cases, MSSPs simply record the intrusion’s behavior without ever confronting it. MDR teams don’t wait to be told – they have their rules of engagement and wipe out the threat immediately upon its detection.
Unlocks Access to the Latest Incident Detection and Response Tools
MDR allows organizations to take full advantage of the breadth of resources available in security products, like EDR, IDS, and IPS. Many MSSPs utilize machine learning detection and response technology but do not manage them closely. Others use live experts without the latest in detection and response tools.
Qualified MDR teams combine the power of machine learning with the emotional intelligence of live experts. This AI-human integration makes it extremely difficult for even the most elusive malware to breach the network perimeter.
Less Likely to Generate “False Positives”
One of the most obnoxious problems of any cybersecurity program is the risk of a false positive. A false positive occurs when intrusion detection and response incorrectly assumes that some kind of network activity is malware when it is not.
A common example of this occurs when an employee is attempting to reach a website for work reasons. Somehow, the outbound traffic looks out of the ordinary, and security teams respond. After investigating, they discover that the outbound traffic was not at all malicious.
Indiscriminate cyber intrusion detection tools and techniques can waste companies thousands of dollars in human work hours and lost functionality. False positives can distract security teams from identifying real threats and sour budget talks with executives when it appears that all cybersecurity measures address non-threats.
What’s the Difference Between Intrusion Detection (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention (IPS)?
An Intrusion Detection System, or IDS, employs data sets and unique signature patterns to spot and notify network administrators of active intrusion attempts with stop measures pre-determined by the administrator or CISO. It works primarily as a log or ledger with a system of alarms and security event triggers.
While an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is similar to an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) in the way it receives and analyzes data, it implements a “smart” step of proactively blocking intrusion attempts rather than leaving that step to manual intervention. In other words, an IPS is more intuitive and active in its cyber intrusion detection and response.
How Can Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) Help an Organization’s Intrusion Detection Process/Protocols?
An IDS will monitor and record. Armed with a security team to respond immediately to any and all threats, an IDS can adequately help cybersecurity professionals protect the network from all manner of intrusions.
How Can Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) Help an Organization’s Intrusion Detection Process/Protocols?
In general, an IPS is more proactive and exploits shorter response timelines. As a result, security personnel are less overwhelmed during a cyber incident since the IPS is actively engaging threats before they have a chance to damage the network.
Also, IPS provides greater control over which devices are able to access the organization’s network. And since IPS carries more of the security load due to its proactive mitigation, it can help increase an organization’s overall security efficiency.
In Conclusion: Cyber Intrusion Detection in the 21st Century
Medium and large-sized businesses remain prized targets for some of today’s insatiable hackers. Malware continually develops greater stealth and intrusion techniques to avoid detection. That said, there exist many high-level cyber intrusion detection tools that can prevent even the most complex attacks from entering the network.
RSI Security is a leading provider of cybersecurity services and intrusion detection capabilities. Its managed detection and response (MDR) teams can elevate the security for organizations of all sizes and industries.
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