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Continuous security monitoring (CSM) is a broad category of technologies and processes for watching, in real-time, the state of security-related information systems in an organization. CSM platforms correlate potentially disparate data sources to detect threats or other undesired changes in network activity.
Traditionally when an organization experiences a system breach, it may take days or weeks to determine what happened.
For example, if someone walked into your place of business unannounced with an unknown bag, you would likely immediately assess their contents. If you witnessed them put something on their person that did not belong there, you might approach them. If instead, they took that item out of their bag after entering, then your alarm bells would ring even more loudly. Since it appears that they knew that what they were carrying was not supposed to be there.
In a traditional reactive security scenario, the first alarm goes off when a system breach occurs, and a team responds as quickly as possible. At this point, the person causing the breach has already laid down their device or left your premises with sensitive data in tow.
In contrast, CSM technologies aim to provide continuous monitoring of all activity on your network. So that you can detect intrusions as early as possible.
By continuously monitoring all activity, an organization can reduce its mean time to detection (MTTD). Also, it usually decrease its mean time to recovery (MTTR). The goal is for the organization’s Security Operations Center (SOC) to identify unusual activity long before it turns into a data breach.
It is important to note that while CSM helps with an organization’s security. It does not replace other best practices such as patching and vulnerability management. The value of these tools is in proactively identifying anomalous activity within your network. Rather than reacting to what has already happened.
Continuous Security Monitoring refers to the security monitoring of networks, hosts, and other targets on an ongoing basis. It often includes the deep inspection of packets or files to discover any violations of policy, abnormal activity indicative of a threat or compromise, or deviations from baselines. Without continuous security monitoring, network intrusions can be challenging to detect until substantial damage has already occurred.
Some examples include:
CSM focuses on network traffic, vulnerabilities, and incidents.
Continuous Vulnerability Assessment focuses on security vulnerabilities and hosts/systems for signs of compromise or exposure to attacks.
In continuous vulnerability assessment, you are looking for things like missing patches or weak passwords, which would be a good target for an attack or intrusion. It can help protect against these attacks by mitigating risks early on.
It starts with the basic principle of “know before you go.” For example, companies can monitor systems to determine if they are sending any suspicious traffic that could be an early sign of a potential attack. This means that it’s vital for companies to monitor systems. Even when everything appears quiet and there aren’t any signs of suspected activity.
CSM, therefore, is extremely useful because it doesn’t rely on human judgment or knowledge about security breaches to determine what is considered normal vs. abnormal activities.
Instead, it looks at how things work within an organization’s network to detect whether things are happening as expected or not. Once any spontaneous activity is identified, administrators can decide how to respond accordingly.
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Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM) monitors all activity on a computer system to create a baseline of what normal activity looks like. Once this baseline has been established, any deviations from the norm set by the monitoring process are regarded as suspect and therefore abnormal.
Many information can be inferred from these deviations, including user habits, software behavior, possible malicious activity, etc. For example: does a certain type of command typically precede this new behavior? CSM also compares logs from past security events with current events to identify user or system behavior changes that might indicate compromising actions.
CSM helps organizations proactively monitor for threats, providing early detection and prevention. It allows you to detect sophisticated attacks that would otherwise go unnoticed until the damage is done – either in the form of financial loss or data theft. Some key benefits include:
CSM is useful in any environment, especially in highly regulated environments subject to frequent auditing.
CSM can look across all user-activity events for signs of malicious or anomalous behavior. It’s important not to filter out any potentially valuable data since you never know what might be an indication of suspicious activity.
Hiding potentially valuable information from your analysis reduces the accuracy of your findings. Also, it leaves you less informed about threats as they occur on your systems.
Not recommended! Implementing CSM yourself is very risky because it’s more than just building the software system. You also need expertise in how to monitor behavior across your network. Also, you; need to make vendor risk management and organizational risk management decisions while maintaining ongoing awareness.
You will likely miss important events since it takes experience to know what to look out for and understand its significance. Furthermore, without the assistance of an external threat intelligence feed, you would be missing key indicators of attack.
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