Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on managed network monitoring. Last time, we talked about how network monitoring is one of the best-kept secrets in the cybersecurity along with how it can detect unauthorized access to your network and authorized connection with stolen login credentials. Join us again today as we pick up where we left off.
Signs of Employee Misconduct or Insider Espionage
Interestingly, network monitoring can use the same methods to catch the rare instance of an insider hacking job. This happens more frequently than you might think, but is more often disgruntled data vandalism or simple misconduct than organized movie-worthy corporate espionage. The trouble is that when the job is done from the inside, there is an authorized login with all the protections of a normal employee as the cause of a potential security breach.
However, to do anything shady, most disloyal employees will have to use their accounts to do their dirty work. The thing is, the normal behaviors for a job can also be recorded like a pattern. You don’t have to tightly watch an employee’s account (something that might run afoul of regulations) in order to flag when an account might be up to something.
Simply flag when an employee account accesses a file it has never or rarely accessed before. Or initiates a download in a restricted folder. You can even watch for the use of Print Screen when sensitive data is open on a computer. All without actually directly tracking a single account’s activity. Just the network itself.
Flagging Compromised Business Software
Recently, hackers have been getting better at finding and exploiting loopholes inside the software businesses are already using. This is done sometimes to slip through firewalls and anti-virus software. But it can also be used to turn your data-accessing programs against you. Your CRM program, for example, has firewall permission to access your database of sensitive client information.
It is then possible that a hacker could build a very sneaky piece of malware that was specially designed to slip onto your server and write a new routine that uses the CRM’s permissions to access and steal client information. You may, by now, see where we’re going here.
Network monitoring can be designed to recognize the exact way that your business software usually accesses protected data. With all the right authorization handshakes and keys swapped back and forth for security. So if a new routine in the same software initiates that skips the authorization handshakes but would have slipped past your CRM’s defenses, Network monitoring will raise the alarm.
In fact, that’s also why it’s great for patching detected vulnerabilities if a source patch is not available.
Detecting Hidden Malware
Finally, network monitoring does something that can save you from the fear of malware and ransomware lurking in your network. It can detect the illicit use of computer resources. You see, when a malware program slips onto your network through, say, a phishing email, it has to use a few computer resources. Even a very sneaky piece of malware needs little scraps of RAM and CPU to get anything done.
To watch your files, to wait for a network signal from its hacker, or to spread through your network in stealth-mode, it will need to use resources. And network monitoring can see that. Network monitoring can look at exactly what your computer is doing, behind the OS and all the things malware can use to hide itself from humans. And if there is a program running that wasn’t there before, if resources are being used in a pattern-defying way, or if one endpoint in a dozen supposedly-identical computers is using more resources, this is a sign of a hidden and lurking malware program.
Network monitoring is also effective at catching malware when it tries to engage in any network activity at all. If it tries to send collected data back to its hacker or to get a signal from the hacker, then network monitoring may spot activity leading to an unknown and unidentified program.
And if it tries to spread itself out onto your other devices throughout the business network, then network monitoring can notice an unusual and suspicious pattern of downloads and installations and trigger an alert state.
These are still only a few of the practical applications for network monitoring, and focuses only on cybersecurity. As you may be starting to see, network monitoring is one of the best-kept secrets in all of IT. It slices, it dices, and it can show you patterns — and breaks in patterns — for almost every detail of your business’s technical existence. And it the ideal way to catch a hacker at every single point of their attack. For more managed network insights or to set up managed network monitoring for your business, contact us today!