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Types of Cybersecurity Monitoring Tools: NetAlly Explains

Is there one cybersecurity monitoring tool that does everything?

Cybersecurity monitoring tools play a crucial role in an organization’s information systems and operational environment. They assess the effectiveness of security controls and data privacy posture. It should also provide continuous monitoring, a practice that is essential for defending the organization against security threats, quickly responding to identified vulnerabilities, and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Regardless of their size, all organizations require cybersecurity monitoring tools. Today’s enterprise networks are intricate ecosystems encompassing on-premises and cloud-based data centers, diverse endpoints, dissimilar hardware and software platforms, multiple communications protocols, diverse applications, and services that share data in unique ways, and geographically distributed.  The complexity of today’s IT networks means there is not a single comprehensive cybersecurity monitoring tool but a suite of tools must be utilized to collectively provide a solution for an organization’s unique cybersecurity requirements.

This blog discusses the primary categories for cybersecurity monitoring tools. It identifies some of the tools within these categories with diverse features and capabilities. By highlighting these tools, the author hopes to empower readers to compare and contrast these different tools and make informed decisions based on their organization’s unique needs.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools

Endpoints like laptops, phones, IoT devices, and control equipment are entry points into the enterprise network. Most data breaches originate at endpoints.  As the number and diversity of endpoints continue to expand, it is essential for organizations to monitor the endpoints connected to their network.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools identify endpoint capabilities and continually monitor their activities. They detect threats and initiate a response using threat intelligence and behavior analysis.

If you are unfamiliar with EDR tools, evaluating tools that offer diverse features and technical approaches can help you identify your must-have features and capabilities. Three tools that take distinctly different approaches to EDR are:

  • CrowdStrike Falcon
    Deploys a lightweight agent on endpoints to collect telemetry data. Analyzes data in the cloud. Uses behavioral analytics and Machine Learning (ML) to detect threats.
  • VMware Carbon Black
    Deploys agents on endpoints to collect endpoint data. Analyzes data on-premises or in the cloud. Uses behavioral analytics and threat hunting.
  • DarkTrace
    Analyzes endpoint connections, using AI to detect minor deviations that may indicate a threat. It detects threats on endpoints, including IoT devices.

When selecting an EDR tool, it must support accurate classification of all the endpoints that the organization needs to monitor based on its risk assessment. Deploying endpoint agents for devices with limited compute capabilities, such as IoT equipment and barcode readers, may be problematic.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) tools extend EDR capabilities to detect threats across the enterprise IT infrastructure, including networks, servers, and cloud workloads. DarkTrace is an XDR tool.

Network Detection and Response (NDR) tools

Firewalls are deployed at the network edge to monitor and control traffic entering and leaving the enterprise network. By inspecting and denying data, they can protect the network from threats such as malware and unauthorized access.

In contrast, Network Detection and Response (NDR) tools log and analyze network traffic. They look for known patterns and abnormal behavior that may indicate a security threat and respond based on the perceived threat. NDR protects against threats that have penetrated the firewall defenses.

NDR tools historically used behavior analysis to set baselines for detecting traffic anomalies and signature-based techniques to look for known attacks. Today, these tools include ML to detect other suspicious activities. NDR tools may support automated responses, such as resolving network problems or instructing firewalls to block or reroute traffic.

As mentioned above, DarkTrace provides NDR capabilities using ML. Other NDR tools that showcase the broad range of features and can be deployed as a physical or virtual appliance include:

  • Cisco Stealthwatch
    Supports private networks and the public cloud. It does not use sensors or agents. It detects threats using flow-based telemetry data, behavioral analysis, and ML. It integrates with Cisco’s security products.
  • ExtraHop Reveal(x) 360
    Uses sensors to extract real-time records from on-premises data centers, private and public clouds, and branch locations. It detects threats by decrypting and analyzing real-time network traffic using behavioral analysis and ML. It integrates with third-party EDR and SIEM products.
  • FireEye Network Security
    Uses a contextual rules-based engine to detect malicious activities. It does not use signatures. It leverages threat intelligence to detect and prevent known threats across a wide range of operating environments. FireEye provides other security solutions, including endpoint security and SIEM solutions. NDR tools receive logs, trace files, network metrics, and other sources of information from network nodes, such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, as well as network metadata from tools such as NetFlow and Nmap. This network data aggregation means NDR can be considered a subset of SIEM.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools

SIEM tools aggregate event data across the enterprise IT systems, coupled with threat intelligence data feeds, and look for behaviors and anomalies that may indicate a cyber security threat or compromise. Event data encompasses log files and telemetry data from disparate sources, including on-premises and cloud data centers, endpoints, firewalls, appliances, and software, such as business applications and antivirus programs.

SIEM tools, like EDR and NDR tools, detect security threats. The crucial difference is that SIEM analyzes large volumes of aggregate data. The two fundamental requirements for an SIEM tool are the ability to search and index data to facilitate real-time analysis and the capacity to store large amounts of data for historical investigation.

SIEM tools vary considerably in terms of architecture, the input of data sources, pricing, and search and reporting capabilities. Three SIEM tools that highlight these differences and can help you identify your organization’s needs are:

  • Splunk Enterprise Security (acquired by Cisco)
    A big data platform used for SIEM and other use cases, such as business analytics. It performs analytics on any form of data, structured or unstructured. The software can be deployed on-premises or in a private or public cloud.
  • IBM QRadar
    Focused on security operations, such as threat detection and incident investigation. It accepts data from various sources and has built-in support for common appliances, devices, and applications. It can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, with operational features such as load balancing and high availability.
  • Rapid7 InsightDR
    Focused on security operations, such as threat detection and incident response. It accepts data from a range of sources. To capture endpoint data, it leverages agents and sensors installed on devices. It is deployed as a cloud solution and also supports load balancing and high availability.

Many vendors are integrating their SIEM products with a Security Orchestration and Response (SOAR) system. As the name suggests, a SOAR system orchestrates a response to detected security threats and incidents. Examples of SOAR solutions include IBM Security Resilient and Fortinet FortiSOAR.

What you should do after reading this blog

The best cybersecurity monitoring tool is the one that meets an organization’s unique requirements. Articulating these requirements can be difficult in organizations that use a wide range of IT solutions and face complex and ever-changing cybersecurity threats. Comparing different solutions can help you determine your organization’s unique needs.

After reading this blog, you should:

  • Choose the cybersecurity monitoring tool category you want to investigate: EDR, NDR, or SIEM.
  • Select three product solutions in your selected cybersecurity monitoring tool category.
  • Ask the vendors for a demo of their cybersecurity monitoring tool.
  • Create a comparison feature matrix.
  • Investigate the architecture and installation guidelines for each cybersecurity monitoring tool.
  • Get hands-on experience using the tool.

How CyberScope can help cybersecurity monitoring tools

CyberScope, in conjunction with Link-LiveTM secure cloud service (and available API) can aid an organization’s overall security posture, strengthening other cybersecurity monitoring tools. This is because CyberScope enables those responsible for security to easily validate edge network configurations across the entire organization from within the environment by connecting directly to any physical port or AP. This “inside the edge” perspective often provides a much more comprehensive view of potential vulnerabilities than provided by other cybersecurity monitoring tools.

Specifically, as it relates to Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools, CyberScope can help. If the EDR tool utilizes agents, they frequently cannot be installed on lightweight devices. This goes well beyond IoT to include endpoints such as thermometers, IP cameras, building controls, among others. CyberScope does not use agents and instead performs comprehensive discovery with vulnerability analysis so any device with an IP address will be inventoried.

To the extent that other tools such as SIEMs use endpoint data and telemetry, the CyberScope’s distinct “inside the edge” perspective of the network can serve as an outstanding additional source of network intelligence that can reduce the attack surface of an organizations IT resources. Learn more about CyberScope here.

Author Bio –
Wireless & Cyber Security Expert

Dr. Avril Salter is an author and acclaimed public speaker with over 20 years of in-depth technical and executive experience working in wireless and network security. She holds senior business and technical architect positions with a history of success in setting direction in major corporations and start-ups. She has an exceptional breadth of technical expertise in wireless standards and network security protocols and is a strategic thinker with a solid understanding of the IT and telecommunications industries.