Sensitive data and configuration files represent top targets for cybercriminals. Malicious intruders’ attempts to access and change these files should be red flags for your security team; unfortunately, the immense volume of normal user activity often obfuscates such. File integrity monitoring tools compare changes against established baselines to notify your security team about potential incidents so they can quickly investigate and respond when necessary.
Top File Integrity Monitoring Tools and Integrable Services
Given the severity of cyberthreats, every organization can benefit from file integrity monitoring tools, although some businesses must implement them as a compliance requirement for their industry. A comprehensive solution should provide or seamlessly integrate with the following tools to ensure your implementation addresses all of your file integrity monitoring needs:
- PII/PAN scanners
- Cloud security suite oversight
- Threat and vulnerability management
- Managed detection and response
Many file integrity monitoring software solutions compile these tools into a single platform for your security team, detecting when important data changes, moves, or is deleted.
Hash Values: A Quick Primer
Hash values comprise part of data’s “digital fingerprint” and operate as signatures integral to file integrity monitoring. Hash values change when data is altered, moved, or deleted, which facilitates file integrity monitoring by comparing current data against identified baselines.
File integrity monitoring tools detect hash values changes, which security teams can then investigate to determine whether the activity was authorized or indicative of cybercrime. After identifying a change, solutions should be able to identify:
- Who changed what
- When and where changes were performed
- How changes were performed
File integrity monitoring solutions require a database that stores original hash values and file states to serve as the authoritative comparison baseline.
#1 PII/PAN Scanners
Personally identifiable information (PII) and primary account numbers (PAN) are two of the most sought-after sensitive data targets that cybercriminals seek. Before you can set about securing files that contain these types of data, your security team needs to identify file quantity and location. Sophisticated solutions will add to your file integrity monitoring tools by cataloging PII and PAN changes and additions during future scans.
PII/PAN scanners search your IT environment and detect existing records that exhibit common attributes that indicate these targets. Most PII and PAN data follow specific formats that assist scanning. For example, scan results should show all files that contain nine-digit (i.e., social security) and 16-digit (i.e., credit card) numbers within your systems.
#2 Cloud Security Suite Oversight
Cloud services and storage increase operational efficiencies but make file integrity monitoring a substantial challenge for security teams. Integrations that open your network to additional traffic and storage locations make it harder to identify where sensitive data resides and when changes are made. Therefore, your file integrity monitoring software should extend to all cloud storage locations to ensure nothing is left unwatched.
Cloud file integrity monitoring often employs agents that oversee specific aspects or locations among your diversified storage setup. These agents report back to the integrated solution so that your security team doesn’t need to install and conduct file integrity monitoring as disparate processes throughout your IT environment, cloud storage, and across all individual endpoints.
#3 Threat and Vulnerability Management
Threat and vulnerability management adopts a proactive approach to your file integrity monitoring efforts, identifying and continuously monitoring prime cybercriminal targets. Following an asset inventory—which should include PII/PAN scanning—data is classified according to most valuable and most vulnerable.
RSI Security’s threat and vulnerability management services perform these proactive functions, along with regular scanning to identify and patch your security’s weak points. RSI Security will also advise on policies, standards, specifications, and best practices to help continually refine your entire cybersecurity infrastructure.
#4 Managed Detection and Response
Managed detection and response similarly adopts a more proactive response to cyberthreats by hunting for ongoing attacks. Whereas threat and vulnerability management could be considered analogous to an engineering team that monitors for construction deficiencies in a physical perimeter wall, managed detection and response operates as the security guards you want (and need) atop it.
Managed detection and response seeks out cybercriminals in real-time. When integrated as part of your file integrity and monitoring tools, detected changes initiate your security team’s response and execute your predefined action and remediation plans. A critical component to managed detection and response is conducting exhaustive analysis on attacks following their remediation to prevent recurrences that exploit the same vulnerabilities.
Detecting File Changes
Your file integrity monitoring tools should be able to detect changes made to file contents and metadata. Critical metadata changes to monitor for include:
- User accounts (e.g., credentials, security questions, authentication policies and configurations)
- User access authorizations
- File attributes and sizes
- File storage locations
Who Needs File Integrity Monitoring Tools?
Organizations subject to certain compliance regulations must implement file integrity monitoring software as part of their cybersecurity infrastructure. The following regulations specify file integrity monitoring amongst their requirements:
- PCI DSS
- NERC CIP
Ensure Your Files’ Integrity
As an expert in cybersecurity, RSI Security provides file integrity monitoring software and advisory services. Our managed security services offer an integrable suite tailored to your organizations’ needs—now and far in the future.
One of the most significant file integrity monitoring challenges is preparing for future growth and the associated proliferation of sensitive data stored across your entire IT environment. Contact RSI Security to learn more about our file integrity monitoring tools and services, which offer scalable functionality to evolve alongside your business.