Digital razor wire: sharpening endpoint protection

Issue 8 2022 Cyber Security

Crypto-mining malware has seen a significant rise over the past few years. In 2021, more than 40 percent of corporate users were hit by Crypto-jacking (also called malicious crypto-mining), according to Statista, while SonicWall detected around 51,1 million attacks in the same year and Google Cloud revealed that 86 percent of compromised instances were used to undertake this activity. Cybercriminals are using smart tools and sophisticated approaches to target endpoints alongside server and cloud resources to tap into the organisation’s processing power, energy, network resources and infrastructure.

And the cost? According to research, it costs the victims 53 times more than what the ‘crypto-jackers’ make – the hackers get the cash, and the organisation foots the very large and unexpected bill. This means that companies must invest in strong endpoint detection and risk mitigation to minimise this risk and the financial impact it has on the business.

Most organisations have invested in an antivirus solution of some kind. These tools have evolved so significantly over the years that they are robust, agile, and flexible; giving companies the kind of security that they need to ensure they can thrive in choppy security waters. However, antivirus is no longer enough on its own. The threat actors have developed advanced techniques that allow them to penetrate these endpoints (laptop, servers, etc.), undetected, giving them the time and space they need to clamber through the business at will, stealing data, using resources and introducing malware.

Another solution that has gained traction is the XDR (next-generation detection and response) that looks at the behaviour of certain malware that a threat actor may introduce to a particular endpoint or machine. This examines network and endpoint behaviour, and detects anomalies, which are sent to the security teams as alerts that they can be actioned on demand. That said, this endpoint protection is limited in its visibility and can result in alert fatigue which impacts response times and awareness.

The problem is, Crypto-jacking, when successful, allows the hackers to tap into multiple machines throughout the business in a way that can often go undetected. In addition to the cost of the resources, this costs in terms of productivity. Crypto-mining demands vast quantities of processing power so hacked machines are likely to be incredibly lethargic, making it difficult for people to do their jobs properly and massively affecting productivity. This knocks onto service delivery and customer experiences and adds, even more, costs to the company.

The business needs security that can blend the capabilities of antivirus, XDR, and security playbooks to create an environment that’s capable of rapid response, detection, and threat mitigation. It needs a platform that can catch the hack before it becomes entrenched in the business and before it spreads out across multiple points in the environment, that can quarantine infections at rapid speeds and that can prevent malicious threat actors from climbing in through unexpected gaps.

This is where the SIEM/SOAR comes in. Adding nicely to the growing pile of security acronyms, security information and event management (SIEM)/security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) are security approaches that can work either independently or in conjunction with one another to optimise security operations and endpoint threat detection.

The SIEM ensures that all the data generated by firewalls, alerts, networks, and intrusion detection systems are collated, analysed, interpreted at speed and aggregated to make immediate and relevant sense to security teams. SIEM/SOAR works in minimising alert fatigue and providing a smoother road to incident response by combining data, workflows, alerts and more, into a central location, which allows for teams to gain richer visibility into security hygiene and response.

Taking this approach allows the business to address any gaps, catch unexpected vulnerabilities, and identify security threats at speed. It allows for true rapid response and detection within a holistic security environment that does not put undue pressure on teams, but equally protects against crypto-jacking and other forms of virulent threat.

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