Attackers are increasingly using tactics that involve using legitimate tools and processes already present in a network to carry out their attacks. This can make it more difficult for security teams to detect and respond to these threats.
Evasive threats hiding inside networks have become progressively common in recent years. According to a 2021 report by cybersecurity firm Mandiant, the median dwell time for attackers in victim environments was 24 days, up from 19 days in 2020. This indicates that attackers are becoming more skilled at evading detection and staying hidden within networks for longer periods.
The same report found that the most common initial attack vectors used by attackers were phishing emails and the exploitation of known vulnerabilities in software and systems. Once inside a network, attackers often use various tactics to avoid detection, such as hiding their activity within legitimate traffic or using advanced techniques like file-less malware.
Evasive threats can include various types of malicious activities such as advanced persistent threats (APTs), zero-day attacks, and file-less malware that can go unnoticed by traditional signature-based antivirus solutions. They are designed to operate quietly in the background of a network, often disguising themselves as legitimate traffic or hiding behind encrypted communications.
The process of identifying evasive threats involves monitoring network traffic and endpoints for suspicious activities or anomalies that may indicate the presence of a threat. This can involve using behavioral analysis, machine learning, or other advanced technologies to identify patterns of activity that may be indicative of a security breach.
Identifying evasive threats hiding inside a network presents several challenges for organizations, including:
Complexity: Modern networks can be complex and difficult to monitor, with a wide range of devices and applications that generate a large volume of data. This complexity can make it challenging to identify and isolate suspicious activities.
Stealthy tactics: Evasive threats are designed to evade detection by traditional security tools and often use stealthy tactics to remain hidden. This can include disguising themselves as legitimate traffic or using encryption to conceal their activity.
False positives: Some security tools may generate false positives, which can lead to security teams wasting time and resources investigating false alarms instead of actual threats.
Limited visibility: Organizations may have limited visibility into their networks, particularly if they use cloud services or have a distributed workforce. This can make it difficult to monitor all network activity and detect potential threats.
Skill and resources: Identifying evasive threats requires skilled security personnel and specialized tools, which may be costly or difficult to obtain for some organizations.
Fast-evolving threat landscape: Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics. As a result, it can be challenging for organizations to keep up with the latest threats and adopt effective countermeasures.
How to Identify Evasive Threats
Identifying evasive threats hiding inside your network can be a challenging task for any organization. Here are some tips to help you detect and respond to these threats:
Use behavioral analysis: Traditional signature-based antivirus tools are not enough to detect new, sophisticated threats. Instead, use behavioral analysis to identify anomalies and suspicious activity.
Monitor network traffic: Keep a close eye on all network traffic to detect unusual activity, such as large file transfers or communication with known malicious IPs.
Implement network segmentation: By segmenting your network, you can limit the potential impact of a security breach and make it harder for attackers to move laterally through your environment.
Conduct regular vulnerability assessments: Identify vulnerabilities in your network before attackers can exploit them.
Educate employees: Make sure all your employees are trained in cybersecurity best practices, such as identifying phishing emails and not sharing passwords.
Use threat intelligence: Stay up to date on the latest threat intelligence to proactively identify and respond to new threats.
Addressing these challenges requires an extensive approach to cybersecurity, including a combination of advanced threat detection tools, regular employee training, and a skilled security team with the resources and expertise to identify and respond to evasive threats.