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News

Context based protection for modern cyber threats

Zscaler : 29 November, 2013  (Technical Article)
ZScaler explains the need for greater context in threat protection in today's environment where signature based protection tools are no longer adequate
Context based protection for modern cyber threats

Traditional security scanning doesn’t work when threats are either net-new or polymorphic in order to evade signatures. That kind of attack shows that it is time for a security paradigm shift. When dealing with previously unknown malware, security shields have to provide the ability to look into a greater context. Signature-based approaches are deemed to fail, as they depend on an understanding of patterns that suggest an attack, and therefore are incapable of detecting new threats. If security systems lack threat histories and known patterns that can be detected, they won’t succeed with nowadays advanced threats.

Enterprises increasingly face advanced persistent threats (APTs) that may leverage previously unknown attack techniques and vulnerabilities. Attacks are increasingly multi-part and sophisticated, sometimes combining APTs and zero-day threats. Behavioural analysis is an important technique for identifying previously unknown threats because this approach does not rely on signatures. Well-executed behavioural analysis can also result in low false-positives compared to traditional pattern matching or signature-based approaches because suspicious activity is observed over a period of time and confirmed.

With behavioural analysis solutions, a binary file is permitted to run in a controlled environment, and its behaviour is monitored and analyzed. Identification of suspicious behaviour—such as the downloading of malware, accessing the file system, logging keystrokes, etc.— allows for the identification of malicious content, even if the sample or techniques leveraged have never been previously observed.

The integration of big data, static analysis and behavioural analysis provides a fuller context for threat protection. By combining behavioural analysis and big data analysis in a cloud-based environment, historical transactions can be linked to with the latest intelligences derived from data mining in the cloud.

Enterprises will continue to encounter APTs that leverage previously unknown attack techniques and vulnerabilities. Only if they manage to adapt and embrace new technologies they will be able keep pace with the evolving threat landscape. Context-based behavioural analysis is essential for protection against modern threats, especially in a work environment that is driven by mobility and always-on mentality of staff, which leads to a greater exposure to security risks.

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