ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
Story image

What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program

By Contributor
Thu 26 May 2022

Article by Exabeam APJ sales director, Gareth Cox.

It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack, with personal data stolen due to malicious activity on payroll software provider Frontier.

A further 13,000 employees were added to the 80,000 announced in late 2021, bringing the total to well over 90,000 current and former employees whose personal credentials were compromised in the attack.

Remember, an organisation “can’t defend what it can’t see”. Instead, organisations must implement strategies that would have made such an attack harder to perpetrate, or discovered the breach before so many employees were compromised.

As our president Ralph Pisani wrote recently, there are three main questions regarding their security operations that every CISO needs to answer. While no silver bullets exist, Ralph goes on to explain that systems exist, whether they are built or brought, that will allow defenders who address these three questions to win, in situations like the one experiences in South Australia.

Here are the three questions a CISO must answer to enable best-in-class security operations, as laid out by Exabeam president Ralph Pisani.

1.   Do you know what normal looks like for every user and entity in your environment?

This is the million-dollar question. Having a handle on what normal activity looks like in your environment is key to detecting anomalous activity.

Some examples:

  • A user is resetting their credentials outside of the corporate change window.
  • A user who doesn’t usually create new accounts has created several new accounts outside of the provisioning process.
  • A contractor accessed a new system using admin credentials.
  • A system in your cloud account is accessing a database every 30 seconds.
  • A user has staged some files and has not done anything else.
  • A system is communicating with a remote server we’ve never seen.
  • A user is copying a significantly large number of files.
  • A developer is accessing a system with backdoor access.
  • A user just sent a large number of emails to their personal account.
  • A previously quiet service account is now surfing the internet or signing in interactively to other systems.

With behavioural models running in the background, you enable a CPU to spot anomalies and assign risk values rather than one of your heroes. Rules are great but only detect known knowns. There’s a little more to this process; one anomaly typically isn’t enough to take decisive action. That sets us up for the next question.

2. Do you create and use timelines?

I hope that you have never experienced a breach. If you have, one of the first things the expensive third party you hire will do is build a timeline of activities to help pinpoint the attack and the impacted systems — even at its best; this is still static and point-in-time.

After more than 25 years in cybersecurity, I’ve yet to see anything more powerful than the impact of timelines for a security operations team. When done correctly, timelines answer the unanswerable; they provide a contextualised time window of any activity associated with a user or asset.

If any one of the above examples is triggered, the risk score is elevated, and each user or asset can automatically be placed on a watchlist. The timeline is ready to help any level of analyst determine what other activities have occurred that might raise their risk level and drive automated or manual intervention.

If you experience a breach, you will likely pay a third-party IR firm to help you assess the damage and toss out adversaries. The tool they use to do it is a timeline. Automatic tools to leverage timelines are an evolution beyond third-party support. Among other things, they are automated and identify abnormal behaviour. Timelines are showstoppers — attackers hate them!

3. What’s your plan for credential-based attacks?

With few exceptions, all of the most recent destructive breaches have been from insiders and credential-based attacks. The adversaries know the drill:

  • Acquire someone’s credentials.
  • Avoid external threat detection.
  • Gain access using legitimate credentials.
  • Move laterally.

With credentials on sale in criminal marketplaces for $15 per person, and admin credentials selling for anywhere from $500 to $100,000 each, there’s an opportunity for both sellers and buyers.

Add to this, the recent Lapsus$ attacks present a new wrinkle, where the attacking/criminal organisation uses social media to recruit insiders for tens of thousands of dollars. This is a new insider threat vector, “colluding insiders”.

There’s more. Your credential-based attack plan must reach beyond cybercriminals. You need to account for others: employees, contractors, vendors, partners, and ex-employees whose access has not been disabled. This level of attention supports supply chain and third-party risk management security as well.

Your plan should be to identify credential-based attacks (aka insider threats) as quickly as possible before they become major incidents. Unlike external threats, insider threats typically evolve over a long period of time.

To discover them, you have to be able to monitor user behaviour that isn’t within a normal range (question #1) and likely incorporates timelines (question #2) to respond immediately.

Simply put, best-in-class security operations need the well-thought-out capabilities of a next-gen SIEM.

Organise security operations around capabilities

The key tool to identifying insider threat behaviour is a SIEM with UEBA capabilities that apply data science across all users and asset activities to determine a normal baseline of expected behaviour. Then, when behaviour drifts away from that baseline, the solution brings those users and/or assets to the attention of security analysts.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Financial results
Margins & revenues up at New Zealand arm of Acer Computer
We look at the local financial statements of Taiwanese manufacturer Acer Computer Inc.
Story image
Robotics
Evonik relies on Getac F110 tablet to control autonomous robot
The aim of the project is to evaluate the practicality of an automated robotic maintenance and inspection solution in the chemical industry.
Story image
Design
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Microsoft
Digital innovation could shape the future of NZ - Microsoft
With cloud technologies available to more people around the world than ever before, it is not only businesses who will benefit from using them.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
SAS acquires Kamakura to propel risk technology innovation
Underscoring SAS growth in the domain-specific solutions space, the acquisition will enable SAS to greatly enhance the breadth of its risk solutions portfolio. 
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
Great Resignation
New SAP study uncovers impact of 'the great resignation'
Coined in 2021, the phrase 'the great resignation' refers to millions of employees globally leaving their jobs. The phenomenon is real and impacting SMEs.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Entelar
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Advent One acquires Layer 8 Networks, complements hybrid cloud offering
The acquisition comes at a time of surging demand in hybrid cloud, network virtualisation and network security.
Story image
Awards
Microsoft names A/NZ Partner of the Year award winners
The awards recognise partners across the globe for their innovative use of Microsoft technologies to help customers succeed.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
BitTitan
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 16GB PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz DDR4
PNY sent over its 16GB XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 module kit for testing. The kit contains two 8GB dual-channel modules with RGB lighting.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Unknown connections: How safe is public WiFi in Aotearoa?
If it's not your own household WiFi, then who has control of your data and is your connection actually safe?
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Citrix
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Infrastructure
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure expands distributed cloud services
“Distributed cloud is the next evolution of cloud computing, and provides customers with more flexibility and control in how they deploy cloud resources."
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Finance
Airwallex launches global payment services in New Zealand
The launch will enable businesses in New Zealand to tap into Airwallex's global payments services, offering an alternative to traditional banks.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review – CleanMyMac X utility for macOS
We get hands-on with a useful utility that macOS users never thought they needed but probably do.
Story image
Microsoft
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
Microsoft
TO THE NEW unveils A/NZ Managed Services for Microsoft Azure
TO THE NEW has released Managed Services for Microsoft Azure to meet the growing demand in the A/NZ market and globally.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic looks to observability market with new partner programme
New Relic has announced the availability of New Relic Partner Stack, an enhanced programme expanding New Relic’s commitment to partners.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Microsoft
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Salesforce
Data crucial to capture shoppers' wallets post-COVID
First-party data strategies key to driving personalisation, customer satisfaction, and long-lasting relationships according to a new report.
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
Christchurch
Enable launches free Wi-Fi in Christchurch city centre
Fibre broadband provider, Enable, and the Christchurch City Council have launched their new Christchurch Free Wi-Fi service in the central city. 
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Cryptocurrency
NOWPayments launches new service to analyse cryptocurrency fees
NOWPayments has launched a new network fee optimisation solution that analyses current network fees and picks the most profitable option out of the client's payout wallets.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity named a Leader in Access Management
Ping Identity has been named a leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Access Management. 
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Electrical
Up to $2.4 million shortfall in the collapse of IndeServe
We delve into the liquidators first report on long-standing networking service provider IndeServes collapse.
Story image
Cloudian
Cloudian, Vertica to deliver on-premise data warehouse platform
"We’re enabling our customers to capitalise on a leading object storage platform and maximise the value of their digital assets.”