In today’s rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape, companies need to rethink and retool. The expanded attack surface and the speed with which new threats are introduced to the environment have significantly reduced the effectiveness of traditional security measures. Legacy tools and solutions cannot handle the volume and sophistication of the threats to valuable data resources. We can no longer hope that we won’t be breached. Rather we must have a plan to deal with threat actors who make it through our front-line defenses.
The addition of an extended detection and response (XDR) solution can be instrumental in strengthening a company’s security. XDR can detect threats that go unnoticed by traditional security measures. An XDR solution focuses on detecting behavioral anomalies in the environment that can indicate the presence of threat actors.
XDR is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The solution leverages threat intelligence (TI) that provides insight into current and emerging threats. XDR collects and analyzes data from the entire environment, providing visibility into the complete attack surface. XDR is cloud-native and can scale easily, resulting in a cost-effective consumption model.
XDR then performs advanced analysis on this information to enable the correlation of weak signals from diverse locations. Cross-domain correlation can uncover threats that escape detection by traditional signature-based security tools. This includes advanced persistent threats (APTs) that may be lying dormant in an environment waiting for the most opportune time to activate.
Deploying and managing an XDR solution efficiently is necessary to obtain its maximum bandits.
Best Practices for XDR Deployment
Following are some best practices that companies should consider adopting when deploying an XDR solution.
Quantify data collection and storage parameters
An XDR solution relies on the collection and availability of telemetry data for analysis against threat intelligence resources. The majority of XDR solutions are priced according to the number of endpoints that are being protected rather than the volume of information collected. Storage allocation should typically be ample to meet the organization’s objectives regarding analytics and advanced threat hunting.
Typically, collecting telemetry data does not consume excessive bandwidth. Companies should still ensure that available bandwidth exists to handle XDR’s requirements when deploying the solution.
Employ a phased rollout approach
A phased rollout allows companies to efficiently address issues with particular integrations or endpoints. Start XDR data collection against a subset of the environment to get a feel for the solutions and understand how the integration may impact operations.
Some patience is required when deploying an XDR solution. While it does provide out-of-the-box threat detection, the fidelity of detections will improve as you connect more telemetry sources and the scope for cross-domain correlation improves. XDR can link events that are seemingly unrelated and harmless, but that pose a serious risk to the infrastructure.
Develop incident response procedures
Incident response procedures should be in place to allow quick action when threats are detected. XDR detects the threats, but a company’s response procedures are key to minimizing damage and performing recovery tasks. Using these procedures, XDR can streamline the response to typical threats, freeing up security personnel to handle unique situations.
Follow standard change control procedures
New integrations are typically simple and do not adversely affect the system as a whole. Following standard change procedures, make sure all telemetry sources are operating and communicating efficiently with the XDR platform whenever a new integration is introduced.
Eliminate single points of failure
While XDR benefits from the inherent reliability of a cloud-based solution, there are still some elements you need to be aware of to ensure resilience. There should be no single failure point that can impact XDR’s ability to collect data for detection and response. The use of different network zones for log collectors enables telemetry collection to continue operation if a subset of the network experiences an outage. A simple and effective method of ensuring high availability is to deploy collectors in a virtualized environment that provides additional resiliency.
Provide employee training
All employees who interact with the XDR solution need to be fully trained regarding its purpose and operation. The individuals responsible for IT security should be comfortable using the platform. An illustrative example is getting everyone up to speed on Samurai’s alert dashboard before going live with the XDR deployment. While training is important, this should not be a daunting prospect. XDR platforms are designed to be easy to use, so the learning curve should not be steep.
Best Practices for XDR Management
After deployment, the following management best practices can help organizations obtain the maximum value from an XDR solution.
**Institute change management procedures **
All changes made to the XDR ecosystem should be carefully planned and managed. This includes new integrations and the addition of endpoint collectors. Procedures should be in place to back out the changes if they negatively affect the operation of the XDR solution. This ensures that when new infrastructure or systems are added that their telemetry is gathered. If telemetry is not provided to the XDR platform, it cannot detect threats. There needs to be a process, after initial implementation, to ensure that telemetry gathering remains up to date.
Verify the health of XDR log collectors
Log collector health should be verified after changes to ensure they have not been adversely impacted. A good practice is to regularly test the efficiency of log collectors and verify that the necessary logs are being generated to achieve the maximum benefits from XDR.
Capacity monitoring and planning
The pricing of XDR solutions involves the definition of endpoints as economic units. Each endpoint is allocated storage by providers, and the space is pooled from all endpoints in the cloud subscription. For the most part, XDR providers allocate ample storage to handle typical telemetry volume. Capacity planning and monitoring may be necessary to ensure the solution’s cost remains in step with the budget in certain circumstances. Pooling can result in certain endpoints using a larger percentage of available space than expected. Monitoring usage allows companies to modify storage requirements if necessary before they impact the efficiency of XDR operations.
Performing reactive threat hunting
An XDR solution should provide a language that supports complex queries for threat hunting in the event of a cybersecurity breach. XDR can query all the information stored in its data lake to provide an excellent platform for threat hunting.
This ability can be instrumental in assessing the extent of a breach and limiting additional activity by the threat actor. The use of XDR in this way is an important part of the incident response process, allowing organizations to minimize the effects of a breach.
Sufficient data retention is an important aspect of threat hunting. The traces of slow-moving APTs can be impossible to detect without analyzing multiple months of data. The ability of XDR to effectively perform threat hunting will be hindered without adequate space to store historical data and logs.
Performing hypothesis-based threat hunting
Organizations can perform proactive hypothesis-based threat hunting to uncover the presence of stealthy threat actors that have evaded detection by standard security controls. For example, when a new vulnerability is disclosed, a hunt may be performed to determine whether this vulnerability has been exploited prior to the implementation of countermeasures such as patching. As the sophistication of threats continues to evolve, the ability to address them proactively becomes increasingly important.
Providing ongoing security awareness training
The security consciousness of a company’s staff is a contributing factor to maintaining a secure environment. Simply relying on technology is not a viable option for implementing optimal cybersecurity. Employees should be given all the education and training necessary to raise their security intelligence. The combination of educated employees and advanced technical solutions like XDR are required to address the activities of sophisticated threat actors.
Samurai’s XDR Solution
Samurai’s XDR solution provides the features and advanced capabilities necessary for a successful deployment and rollout. The platform provides numerous integrations with endpoint data collectors to provide the visibility required to detect and respond to threats. Samurai’s Advanced Query feature promotes effective reactive and proactive threat hunting for protection against APTs and other stealthy risks.
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