Employee Monitoring

A Quick Guide To Visibility And Smarter Monitoring

By Dr. Christine Izuakor

Companies of all sizes are learning that when it comes to keeping their digital assets safe; being able to monitor what’s going on within their environments makes all the difference. Unfortunately, those same companies have struggled with basic fundamentals such as maintaining accurate asset inventories and deploying the right technology on those assets to gain visibility into their security posture – two components critical to the effectiveness of traditional visibility programs. These limitations led to a need for companies to get creative in how monitoring and the realization of true visibility are approached. Advancements in cybersecurity and the incorporation of artificial intelligence have led to the introduction of a new domain in visibility: Smart Monitoring. Using the latest and greatest technologies, companies are embracing a new approach to monitoring assets and employees through predictive analytics that can proactively isolate threats to the organization and empower them to take action and mitigate risks.

Why monitor?

Data breaches happen often and can take months or even years to discover. Companies with the right monitoring technology can better detect and respond to these threats because they can see them happening. The idea is to have insight and a solid historical record of not only what’s going on within your network, but who’s doing it. Organizations looking to ensure they can manage these kinds of cyber threats, desperately need monitoring capabilities. Such functionality is also of value to companies concerned with, harder to detect, Insider Threats that many intentionally or unintentionally cause the company harm.  Compliance reasons can also motivate companies to implement monitoring technology.

How are companies monitoring threats today?

There are several variations of technology that exist to help solve visibility challenges. Some of the most common solutions are:

·      SIEM solutions or security information and event management solutions that provide real-time analysis of alerts that have been generated by devices and applications across a network. These tools can ingest and process data from numerous sources to identify risks and trends.

·      Insider Threat technology is a variation that focuses on user behavior and seeks to identify employees and contractors who may either intentionally or inadvertently pose a risk to the organization.

·      Data loss prevention (DLP) technology is another variation of monitoring that focuses mainly on protecting data at rest or in transit between networks from leaking outside of the organization’s control.

·      Other technologies related to monitoring exist as well, including modern solutions that combine some of these functions into a single platform.

Each approach takes on a different perspective or focal point that, with the right alerts, can help companies understand where there are risks present that they should address.

What is smart monitoring?

The fundamental principle of UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analytics is to create a baseline of what normal behavior looks like in order to measure what could be considered as abnormal behavior. To establish a baseline, various data points, such as user names, access permissions, location, and more must be collected. When cross-referenced with user activities such as transaction type, session duration, time of day, geographical location, and more, anomalies can be identified.

What sets smart monitoring apart?

What’s better than being able to see something bad after it happens in your network? Being able to predict it before it even happens. That’s the difference that smart monitoring can make. Most of the activity seen within an environment stems from some user action at some point in the process. This makes having insight into individual user behaviors one of the essential parts of a monitoring and visibility solution. When artificial intelligence is applied to monitoring user activity, it becomes “smart” and entities can then predict when a user is going to drive action that can inflict harm. Based on those inputs, technology can also continually learn and improve its predictions over time. Since tons of data is already being collected through existing log sources, they can be analyzed using AI algorithms to understand better the behavior overlaid with the business context in real-time.

Equipped with this advanced insight, instead of focusing on quick technology fixes that a knowledgeable insider can simply try to circumvent, the user behavior and core root of the problem can be addressed.

You’ve got options, which one’s right for you?

There are many different existing approaches to monitoring users. Instead of picking the next big technology fad, think about the problem your company is trying to solve for, what tools you already have and what the gaps are. While no company is 100% perfect, if you don’t have the basics down like asset management, then those are great places to start. Without visibility, you can’t protect what you can’t see.

If you are ready to invest in technology that can protect the assets you know you have, smart monitoring can help. The best intelligent monitoring tools have capabilities that enable insight into user interactions across a variety of corporate resources, including email, web browsing, and more. These tools can also evaluate employee sentiment, shifts in behavior, and more based on proactive user profiling and predictive analytics. Lastly, these modern tools can detect anomalies, alert on events of concern, provide relevant and reputable evidence, and empower the organization to respond to threats.

To take your cybersecurity program to the next level, consider smart monitoring over traditional, antiquated monitoring solutions.


Insider Risk – How Prepared Are You?

Not every company is equally prepared to deal with insider risk. This report outlines the four stages of insider risk maturity and explores how to improve your insider risk preparedness.

About the author

Dr. Christine Izuakor
Dr. Izuakor is the Senior Manager of Global Security Strategy and Awareness at United Airlines where she plays a critical part in embedding cyber security in United’s culture. She is an adjunct professor of cyber security at Robert Morris University, and independently helps corporations solve a diverse range of strategic cybersecurity challenges.

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