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Blog — Jun 17, 2021

Remote CyFIR Capabilities Mitigate Cyber, Business, and Health Risks of COVID-19

6 minutes read
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This blog was originally published on CyFIR.com and has been reposted as-is here following eSentire’s acquisition of CyFIR Inc. in June 2021. As of the date of the acquisition, no changes have been made to the content below.

Overview

CyFIR Enterprise—and its on-demand, instantly-available variant CyFIR Investigator available on the AWS Marketplace—provides fully remote incident response, forensic investigation, insider threat, and eDiscovery collection capabilities to IT security organizations, including those currently under work-from-home or travel restrictions. Built with an enterprise-first architecture, CyFIR was designed for forensic-grade remote access of corporate computing assets, either down the hall or across the globe.

COVID-19 Disrupts Normal Workplace Functions

To “flatten the curve” of the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, many businesses and organizations are asking employees to leave the normal confines of their offices and work remotely from home. Even with strict VPN-access policies, computing assets in the wild are less protected than those internal to a company’s defenses. When employees are working remotely, their computing systems are subject to the potentially questionable defenses of their home’s network configuration and defenses.

Several cybersecurity firms are reporting increased attack activity against a range of targets using the COVID-19 pandemic to dupe their targets into launching malware as large portions of the world have their attention turned toward the virus. With employees being distracted by juggling unanticipated work from home, closed schools, potentially sick relatives, and limited office resources, they may be less vigilant in ensuring that every link in a multitude of email messages is a safe one.

Additionally, the COVID-19 virus has impacted travel capabilities for IT security units that often work on-site with customers, such as Incident Response (IR) and eDiscovery collection teams. Traditional IR models often call for a team to fly to a customer’s location, work on-site with employees to collect disk images of computing resources, and then fly back to their corporate offices to begin analyzing the content of those images. Not only does this approach expose an IR provider’s employees to potential threats of COVID-19 in both travel and working in unknown environments, but it also reflects an inefficiency and of the Incident Response market driven by the limitations of common software platforms in the field.

Further exacerbating the issue of providing incident response and investigative services to a “work from home” workforce is the reduced internet connection speeds of home broadband service. Many forensic investigation platforms rely upon the support of a high-speed network connection, assuming that they are being used within the confines of an office. This essentially renders IT Security teams incapable of addressing their company’s security concerns while its workforce is practicing social distancing and isolation to combat COVID-19.

CyFIR Allows IT Security and Incident Response Functions to Continue Remotely—Without Access Limitations or Risk of Viral Exposure

Internal IT Security Teams

With the immediate mandate to work from home established by many organizations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many IT Security teams will find themselves unprepared to handle their job functions with the majority of the computers under their protection being removed from the corporate network and exposed to a wide variety of home networks with differing security postures. While this may be “business as usual” for modern distributed companies, factors involved in ensuring security for remote computing assets often have not been thoroughly considered or prepared for by traditional organizations.

With the CyFIR Smart Agent deployed to computing assets, IT Security, Insider Threat, and eDiscovery collection teams can remotely access endpoints with forensic fidelity to perform their critical job functions, unaffected by the location of either their analysis workstation or the targeted computing endpoints. With appropriate permissions, security staff can review detailed information about running processes, search for files of interest across all endpoints simultaneously, dive deeply into an endpoint’s file system or email storage, examine open network connections for signs of data exfiltration, extract files or processes of interest for storage or further analysis, and more—regardless if those endpoints or analysis workstations are inside or outside of the corporate firewalls.

Incident Response Companies

Because of the limitations imposed by both common incident response investigation software platforms and unchallenged legacy procedural thinking, most companies engaging in incident response work send teams of individuals—billable by the hour—on-site to create tens, dozens, or hundreds of image copies of potentially affected computer systems which they then bring back to the lab for analysis separately or in small batches. This methodology puts a company’s staff and customers at risk during a viral pandemic.

With CyFIR’s enterprise-first, fully remote architecture, a CyFIR installation can be set-up on customer premises, at corporate headquarters, in a corporate data center, or in the Cloud. For short-term, immediate-need engagements, CyFIR LLC also offers CyFIR Investigator on the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. Using CyFIR Investigator on AWS, within fifteen minutes, Incident Responders can create an appropriately sized CyFIR server for engagements from five to 2,500 concurrent endpoints and begin deploying CyFIR Smart Agents to computers in need of incident response investigation or remediation. This can all be done remotely, from any location, to any region served and supported by the AWS Cloud. In doing so, this protects IR staff from traveling and being exposed to unknown conditions on-site, allowing them to be effective, productive, and responsive while meeting the CDC’s recommendations of social distancing and protective isolation. With additional CyFIR Investigator instances, numerous individual customers can be handled from one analyst using a single workstation connected to the AWS Cloud for everything from making a live, remote, forensically-sound disk image to performing a full Incident Response investigation and remediation across thousands of endpoints. Five-day free trials—often more than enough time to complete an investigation with the concurrent endpoint processing offered by CyFIR—are available on CyFIR Investigator instances of 250 endpoints and larger.

CyFIR Operates in a Low Bandwidth Environment

Unlike most “enterprise” forensic analysis platforms, CyFIR is able to function in a remote, low-bandwidth environment. CyFIR’s remotely deployed Smart Agents contain the forensic processing functions of the CyFIR platform. The Investigator’s interface simply provides commands to the endpoint Smart Agents, and the Smart Agents return a small amount of data with the resulting information. Investigators can then choose which files or processes to preview, review, remotely acquire, and more. While CyFIR cannot image a hard drive faster over a low-bandwidth connection than its competitors, the live nature of CyFIR’s forensic investigation and incident response capabilities allow investigators to complete their work without requiring that a disk or RAM image be made.

In short, using CyFIR Enterprise, IT Security staff can successfully complete incident response, internal investigations, and endpoint remediation safely and remotely, even over slower, “work from home” internet connections.

Conclusion

Whether business operations are disrupted by COVID-19 or it’s business as usual, CyFIR’s remote, enterprise-scale forensic investigation, monitoring, and malcode detection capabilities can be deployed from any location to meet enterprise needs of any size. For rapid incident response, internal investigation, or eDiscovery collection matters, CyFIR Investigator on AWS Marketplace provides broad forensic investigation capabilities across five to 2,500 endpoints concurrently, and subscribers pay only for the time needed to complete the task at hand. Within fifteen minutes, IT Security personnel can be ready to deploy CyFIR Smart Agents to meet the unanticipated cybersecurity challenges currently unfolding from COVID-19 without risk of exposure to potentially infected coworkers, travelers, or customers.

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eSentire is the Authority in Managed Detection and Response, protecting the critical data and applications of 1200+ organizations in 75+ countries from known and unknown cyber threats. Founded in 2001, the company’s mission is to hunt, investigate and stop cyber threats before they become business disrupting events. Combining cutting-edge machine learning XDR technology, 24/7 Threat Hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire mitigates business risk, and enables security at scale. The Team eSentire difference means enterprises are protected by the best in the business with a named Cyber Risk Advisor, 24/7 access to SOC Cyber Analysts & Elite Threat Hunters, and industry-leading threat intelligence research from eSentire’s Threat Response Unit (TRU). eSentire provides Managed Risk, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services. For more information, visit www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.