Introduction to Adaptive Security
Adaptive Security is a real-time security model or approach that continuously investigates behaviors and events to protect against the threat and adapt to the threats accordingly before they happen. The primary goal of adaptive security is to create a feedback loop of threat visibility, detection, and prevention that consistently becomes more effective. It consists of four major categories of competence, that are – Prevention, Detection, Responsive, and Prediction.
Gartner predicts that,
By 2020, 40% of large organizations will have established a “security data warehouse” to support advanced security analytics.
Why does Cybersecurity need to be Adaptive?
Cybersecurity threats are becoming unfortunate in every day of life. Organizations today are looking for solutions that empower them to predict, prepare, and react proactively to the shifting landscape of cyber threats, and implementation of adaptive cybersecurity policies are becoming inevitable to achieve the goal.
- Evolving Threats – As technology develops and develops over time, the cyber threats that we are facing will also evolve and are becoming more advanced. Earlier, the risks and attacks were much rarer, so cybersecurity systems were beneficial, but now those systems are completely outdated. Therefore, to keep up with evolving threats, cybersecurity systems need to be able to adapt to different scenarios and environments quickly. Business and cybersecurity teams may not be able to predict the future, but they can prepare for it.
- Larger Attack Surface – As far as our data is shifted to the cloud, the chances of attacks increase day by day, i.e., the more and more of our work is being moved online, the number of access points for those looking to gain unauthorized access is increasing day by day. One of the main issues is securing the IoT devices, as the growth of IoT devices surrounds today’s environment. Therefore, to solve these problems, adaptive security will need to implement to protect business network assets, and it also helps to secure personal devices.
Traditional Security VS Adaptive Security
Nowadays organizations and security professionals are facing a combination of challenges which include undefined perimeters and continuously evolving security aspects. New problems may consist of the evolution of the IoT and IoE, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. Due to the emerging of such new trends and most of the previous attacks the market has seen in the past few years, there is one common thread, i.e., the attacker has penetrated the traditional perimeter defences, which show traditional log event management tools, and monitoring practices are becoming increasingly insufficient, the firewall or IPS monitors the communication between devices and tries to spot an attack in the traffic based on having seen such an attack before, which is not a much of intelligent defences where attacks are becoming automated and smarter.
It is essential that organizations should shift their security mindset from ‘incident response’ to ‘continuous response’ by adapting the Adaptive Security Architecture (ASA).
Adaptive Cybersecurity Principles Overview
The following principles apply to information systems to reduce exposure to threats, contain the magnitude of risks, and counter them in a timely fashion.
Introduction to Pattern Recognition
IT systems must be capable of sophisticated pattern matching techniques to identify normal and abnormal behaviour in code, command, communication protocols, etc.
Disposability – IT infrastructure
A sacrificial IT system – a system or virtual machine instance that can be eliminated if necessary – represents the concept of disposability in an IT infrastructure. Disposability enables flexibility that contributes to the overall robustness of the infrastructure.
Introduction to Anomaly Detection
An IT system must support the capability to recognize and respond automatically to abnormal behaviour or known threats. The intention of using an adaptive approach to security design is to anticipate threats before they manifest themselves.
As soon as the anomaly is detected several measures can be taken to mitigate the loss.
Taken from Article, Real-Time Anomaly Detection for Cognitive Intelligence
Adaptive Security Processing Architecture
- Telemetry – Telemetry is gathering and monitoring of information about a system, networks, and other activities that can affect the IT infrastructure. Telemetry must be gathered in real-time to
anticipate threats effectively.
- Correlation – Correlation is the evaluation of real-time telemetry data in conjunction with historical information.
- Response- mechanisms take specific actions according to a well-defined security policy and set of rules. The response often includes the modification of system configurations, system characteristics, and behavior, as well as halting systems if necessary. The goal of the response mechanism is to limit the exposure and impacts that might adversely affect service levels.
How to Adopt an Adaptive Security Architecture?
It doesn’t depend on the size of someone’s network or organizations, business nature or the threats someone’s organization are exposed to, adaptive security can be adopted by any irrelevant to these things, and they can be evolved according to someone’s defined policies and procedures.
The following is a list of steps which help in designing an adaptive security model –
- Point out the threats and threat characteristics that should be avoided or destroyed.
- Threat characteristic may consist of the known threat’s attribute or some suspicious behaviour exhibited by some entity or process.
- Define satisfactory trusted components, behaviour, and actions that must not be mistaken for a threat.
- Set triggers to monitor for threats and, if necessary for invoking a system responds accordingly.
- Implement redundancy for critical functions.
- There should not be any critical trusted elements, because if they got compromised damage to an entire system.
- Define threat response in such a way that is should be useful and do not lead in killing the host machine.
- Define recovery process.
- Define a feedback phase at the end which can validate the response.
Why Adaptive Security Matters?
It allows for early detection of the security breach and an automatic, autonomous response whenever a malicious event occurs. As cyber threats and other security and hacking attack’s methods are becoming advance day-to-day in terms of their method of attack and their automation, so similarly businesses also need to adapt their methods of handling and preventing such attack as useful as possible. Apart from its fundamentals benefits adaptive security has more to give, which are mentioned below –
- It’s a continuous process and evolves according to the threats.
- Reduce the attack surface area, making someone’s service and product less prone to vulnerabilities.
- Shortened the recovery time
- Due to the rapid adoption of IoT, Big Data and Analytics, the risk of security are increased, which result in some new approach other than the traditional security approach to prevents such threats.
- ML and AI can be integrated with ASA, which results in advanced analytics and can detect security breaches that would not be obvious by monitoring the system alone.
How does Adaptive Security Architecture work?
The Prevention the first necessary step which allowed enterprises to create products, processes, and policies that help in preventing attacks. It takes care of judging whether an object is safe or malicious and take step accordingly. It can be done through firewalls, signature-based engines, and proactive technologies using machine learning. Only this step blocks almost 99% of threats, but what about the remaining 1% threats, this 1 % is doing the most massive damage to businesses.
In this step, security solutions are configured not to block threats themselves, but they serve to detect and report suspicious activity, and later they can be managed by skilled infosec professionals. It includes behavioural dynamic code analyzers and analytic systems. Here the aim is to diminish the time taken for threats to be detected and stopping potential risks from becoming actual risks.
Respond is the most logical step in ASA, in this step we are going to define what measure to take, and how to respond to the specific type of threats which are not being stopped by the high layer. By investigation of incidents and proper analysis, an ASA can respond accordingly to a threat, whether through a design or policy change. More specifically this step does the investigate incidents, design policy changes, conduct retrospective analysis.
The prediction layer feeds IT teams with alerts about external events. By monitoring attackers activities, this layer also anticipates new types of attack and provides information that helps in further enhancement of the prevention and detection layers.
Benefits of Adaptive Security
Adaptive security has lots of advantages over the traditional security approach. As its all depends on the size of organizations and their implementation of adaptive security according to their network’s design, but let’s see some of the benefits of adaptive security –
- Reduces the surface area for the attackers
- Responsive to attacks which result in the reduction of remediation time
- Decrease the rate of attacks
- Recognize ongoing security breaches
- Continuous monitoring and response in real-time
- Limit the data theft and damage
Significant Challenges in Designing an Adaptive Security Architecture
- Current technologies for blocking and prevention are inadequate to defend against empowered, sophisticated attackers.
- Most organizations continue to invest excessively in prevention-only strategies.
- Visibility minimal for advanced attacks.
- Since enterprise systems are under constant attack and are continually breached, the mentality of the ad-hoc approach to “incident response is wrong.
Recommendations for Designing an Adaptive Security Architecture
- Shift the organization’s culture from “Incident response “to “Continuous response”.
- Adopt an adaptive security architecture.
- Spend less on prevention; invest in detection, response and predictive capabilities.
- Develop a security operations centre in the organization that supports and practises continuous monitoring.
Adaptive Security Best Practices
Accurately define all the four stages, i.e., prevention, detection, responsive, and prediction
Organizations get instant insights, in turn, get reduced response time. Artificial Intelligence for Cyber Security is the new wave in Security.
Taken from Article, The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security
- There should be a well-defined recovery process so that systems should be capable of adaptively reconfiguring and restarting themselves.
- There should not be any critical “trusted” elements.
- There should be a feedback stage also which validate the threats response so that that response could be limited to only legitimate and realistic threats.
Concluding Adaptive Security
So, we see what is adaptive security is and its importance in today’s IT areas where everything is becoming automated. We should take a look at this new approach to security which is more beneficial and effective as compares to the traditional security approach. But it’s not as easy as it looks, as an effective ASA requires robust solutions that include a no. of features and security measures for predicting threats and preventing threats.
The adaptive security solution should offer 24/7 visibility and threats alerts. We can integrate AI and ML for better predictions and robustness, and then can be adopted in the DevOps cycle. For more information, you are advised to go through with the below steps: