We’ve all heard it, “it’s not a matter of if, but when.” This phrase is a marketing staple used to instill fear, uncertainty and doubt amongst cybersecurity practitioners regarding breaches and business loss. However, without substantial data contextual to each practitioner’s unique situation, the phrase loses clout in its ability to change an organization’s security approach.

Meanwhile, under-resourced security and IT teams end up deploying disparate security solutions in an attempt to close gaps and reduce risk against an evolving threat landscape. As we have seen at eSentire, this becomes a recipe for business disrupting events.

First, remembering eSentire’s purpose is to catch threats that other technologies miss, let’s look at the facts. Based on client data, if we separate threats into phishing, malware and exploit (see definitions in our Q2 2018 Quarterly Threat Report, below depicts the cumulative probability over an 11-month period for an organization with four locations being vulnerable (meaning traditional prevention and detection measures won’t catch these threats) to:

  • Phishing: 46.9%
  • Malware: 52.4%
  • Exploit: 67.9%

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(Note: these are discrete events meaning we do not double count when an exploit is followed by malware.)

What does this tell you? On a long enough timeline, virtually every organization is 99.xxx% vulnerable to a successful attack. Correlate it to throwing dice in a game of craps. If you throw the dice long enough, eventually a seven will hit and everyone loses. While some organizations are okay with taking the risk, others are unaware or do not have the resources to address it.

What does this have to do with breadth and depth and the correlation to SIEMs and MDR? Aristotle once said, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” If you look at a defense-in-depth approach, each layer represents a potential opportunity for attackers and security teams.

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Let’s start with log data that would be fed into a SIEM. Looking at the strengths, the breadth of visibility is unmatched, no other technology can pull in more data and if appropriately tuned can provide an overall view into security. However, there are weaknesses:

  • Complexity
  • Rearview mirror into what happened
  • Time delays
  • Lack of tactical or response capabilities
  • Depth of visibility

If you look at the typical components that make up an MDR provider’s technology stack, many solely rely on a logging platform. Why? Breadth of visibility. However, given the sophistication of threats and potential for being vulnerable to attacks that bypass traditional preventative and detection measures (see above), there is a need for greater depth of visibility, as well as response capabilities beyond what log platforms can provide alone. Think of this as Swiss cheese. Stack one layer on and there are still holes, stack another and the holes start to disappear. However in this context the Swiss cheese is three dimensional to account for breadth and depth. If we correlate it to the Attacker Kill Chain you can see each layer has a specific purpose with strengths and weaknesses across. Ultimately, the combination equates to a more powerful solution than the individual parts themselves.

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Ultimately the goal is to obtain visibility and correlate the necessary level of data to catch threat actors and contain in a timely manner. As data demonstrates, organizations will be vulnerable to attacks that bypass prevention and traditional detection, it truly is only a matter of time. The question is, does your organization or does your service provider have the appropriate solution, whether it be log, endpoint, network, etc. that achieves the required breadth and depth of visibility and corresponding ability to containment threat actors in a timely manner before an attacker can achieve their objectives?

wes hutcherson
Wes Hutcherson
Director of Product Marketing

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Articles and reports written by eSentire staff and our Threat Intelligence Research Group.

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