Staying One Step Ahead in the fight against of Cyberattacks

Hackers have long threatened American information systems. From Colonial Pipeline and TurboTax to McDonald’s and Peloton, cyberattacks are on the rise. The New York Times reported that ransomware attacks rose 102% during the first half of 2021 compared to the beginning of last year. As many as 560 health care facilities were hit by ransomware last year amid the pandemic, according to a CNN report.

The question remains: how do you outpace and outsmart cyber attackers who always seem to be one step ahead?

Cybercriminals Exploit AI and Machine Learning

Like viruses that mutate and evolve to evade inoculation, criminals constantly find ways to exploit AI and machine learning to hack into systems. AI deployment by cybersecurity experts is essential for protecting organizations from the latest advancements that speed up attacks and cause major damage.

Keeping up or getting ahead of cyber attackers means adopting agile enterprise cybersecurity solutions that include:

  •   Deception technology
  •   Artificial intelligence/machine learning
  •   Asset management
  •   Intelligence gathering 

One of the problems that AI, machine learning, and other agile cybersecurity features solve is the lack of skilled IT professionals.

Moving faster than attackers means removing human interaction from the cyber-response as much as possible. While an intruder follows the trails deployed by your deception technology, leading to dead ends and traps, your agile system can watch the attacker’s every maneuver. At the same time, because you’ve employed AI/machine learning, your system can erect roadblocks and cut off traffic to high-priority assets, giving you and your team precious time to analyze an attack in progress and respond accordingly.

The Realities of Current Day Cyber Warfare

What scares attackers the most is a honeypot, and deception technology is like a honeypot on steroids. Everything an intruder does is logged for analysis, so you can erect even better defenses.

Deception technology is a window into your entire network, showing every server, router, and device, complete with traffic analysis so you know which systems are mission-critical. The first thing an attacker will do after breaching your network is scan it and catalogue all your assets and that’s the first thing you should do, too.

You should audit your network on a regular basis because every Bluetooth-enabled and wireless device that connects to your network—via employees, customers, and even vendors—is a potential attack vector through which your system can be breached.

Agile Threat Management

You can’t read every intelligence brief, no matter how dedicated and determined you are. But an agile unified threat management platform (UTM) can follow every feed, integrating that intelligence with your system, and analyzing threat levels.

Your intelligence stream can alert you to new and emerging threats like cryptojacking, swarmbots, and weaponized fuzzing—and your AI-enabled UTM can then be on the lookout for traffic patterns, network speed, random code, and other anomalies that these types of attacks can create.

New powerful embedded analytics platforms provide just-in-time analysis of cybersecurity patterns, threats, trends, and attack analytics. This use of embedded analytics provides cybersecurity analysts with a powerful weapon to utilize against hackers. Embedded analytics software like Reveal can be employed in almost any industry to collect and analyze data, including financial risk analysis, measuring healthcare performance, forecasting manufacturing production, and optimizing grocery inventory levels.

Hardening your defenses

Make sure every person in your company is trained in recognizing social attack methods. By industry estimates, 91 percent of cyberattacks begin with spear-phishing email. Training employees to recognize suspicious emails, interactions, and technology glitches are your first and best line of defense.

Most company networks are a collection of legacy applications, systems, and hardware. No matter how well integrated these disparate pieces are, they offer attackers a more porous attack surface than a UTM. By deploying at UTM with deception technology, AI/machine learning capabilities, asset management, continuous threat intelligence, and analytics, you can harden your defense network.

Remember, attackers have their own cost/benefit analysis. If you can make it difficult enough, you can watch as they retreat and go off in search of easier targets.

John Gomez is Chief Executive Officer & Cybersecurity Researcher at Sensato Cybersecurity Solutions, based in Red Bank, New Jersey. He developed the Sensato Nightingale cybersecurity platform that utilizes the Reveal embedded analytics platform.