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Finding the Right Cyber Security AI for You

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20
Dec 2022
20
Dec 2022
This blog explores the nuances of AI in cyber security, how to identify true AI, and considerations when integrating AI technology with people, processes, and other technology.

AI has long been a buzzword – we started seeing it utilized in consumer space; in social media, e-commerce, and even in our music preference! In the past few years it has started to make its way through the enterprise space, especially in cyber security.

Increasingly, we see threat actors utilizing AI in their attack techniques. This is inevitable with the advancements in AI technology, the lower barrier to entry to the cyber security industry, and the continued profitability of being a threat actor. Surveying security decision makers across different industries like financial services and manufacturing, 77% of the respondents expect weaponized AI to lead to an increase in the scale and speed of attacks. 

Defenders are also ramping up their use of AI in cyber security – with more than 80% of the respondents agreeing that organizations require advanced defenses to combat offensive AI – resulted in a ‘cyber arms race’ with adversaries and security teams in constant pursuit of the latest technological advancements.  

The rules and signature approach is no longer sufficient in this evolving threat landscape. Because of this collective need, we will continue to see the push of AI innovations in this space as well. By 2025, cyber security technologies will account for 25% of the AI software market.

Despite the intrigue surrounding AI, many people have a limited understanding of how it truly works. The mystery of AI technology is what piques the interest of many cyber security practitioners. As an industry we also know that AI is necessary for advancement, but there is so much noise around AI and machine learning that some teams struggle to understand it. The paradox of choice leaves security teams more frustrated and confused by all the options presented to them.

Identifying True AI

You first need to define what you want the AI technology to solve. This might seem trivial, but many security teams often forget to come back to the fundamentals: what problem are you addressing? What are you trying to improve? 

Not every process needs AI; some processes will simply need automation – these are the more straightforward parts of your business. More complex and bigger systems require AI. The crux is identifying these parts of your business, applying AI and being clear of what you are going to achieve with these AI technologies. 

For example, when it comes to factory floor operations or tracking leave days of employees, businesses employ automation technologies, but when it comes to business decisions like PR strategies or new business exploration, AI is used to predict trends and help business owners make these decisions. 

Similarly, in cyber security, when dealing with known threats such as known malicious malware and hosting sites, automation is great at keeping track of them; workflows and playbooks are also best assessed with automation tools. However, when it comes to unknown unknowns like zero-day attacks, insider threats, IoT threats and supply chain attacks, AI is needed to detect and respond these threats as they emerge.

Automation is often communicated as AI, and it becomes difficult for security teams to differentiate. Automation helps you to quickly make a decision you already know you will make, whereas true AI helps you make a better decision.

Key ways to differentiate true AI from automation:

  • The Data Set: In automation, what you are looking for is very well-scoped. You already know what you are looking for – you are just accelerating the process with rules and signatures. True AI is dynamic. You no longer need to define activities that deserve your attention, the AI highlights and prioritizes this for you.
  • Bias: When you define what you are looking for, as humans inherently we impose our biases on these decisions. We are also limited by our knowledge at that point in time – this leaves out the crucial unknown unknowns.
  • Real-time: Every organization is always changing and it is important that AI takes all that data into consideration. True AI that is real time and also changes with your organization’s growth is hard to find. 

Our AI Research Centre has produced numerous papers on the applications of true AI in cyber security. The Centre comprises of more than 150 members and has more than 100 patents and patents pending. Some of the featured white papers include research on Attack Path Modeling and using AI as a preventative approach in your organization. 

Integrating AI Outputs with People, Process, and Technology


Integrating AI with People

We are living in the time of trust deficit, and that applies to AI as well. As humans we can be skeptical with AI, so how do we build trust for AI such that it works for us? This applies not only to the users of the technology, but the wider organization as well. Since this is the People pillar, the key factors to achieving trust in AI is through education, culture, and exposure. In a culture where people are open to learn and try new AI technologies, we will naturally build trust towards AI over time.

Integrating AI with Process

Then we should consider the integration of AI and its outputs into your workflow and playbooks. To make decisions around that, security managers need to be clear what their security priorities are, or which security gaps a particular technology is meant to fill. Regardless of whether you have an outsourced MSSP/SOC team, 50-strong in-house SOC team, or even just a 2-man team, it is about understanding your priorities and assigning the proper resources to them.

Integrating AI with Technology 

Finally, there is the integration of AI with your existing technology stack. Most security teams deploy different tools and services to help them achieve different goals – whether it is a tool like SIEM, a firewall, an endpoint, or services like pentesting, or vulnerability assessment exercises. One of the biggest challenges is putting all of this information together and pulling actionable insights out of them. Integration on multiple levels is always challenging with complex technologies because they technologies can rate or interpret threats differently.

Security teams often find themselves spending the most time making sense of the output of different tools and services. For example, taking the outcomes from a pentesting report and trying to enhance SOAR configurations, or looking at SOC alerts to advise firewall configurations, or taking vulnerability assessment reports to scope third-party Incident Response teams.

These tools can have a strong mastery of large volumes of data, but eventually ownership of the knowledge should still lie with the human teams – and the way to do that is with continuous feedback and integration. It is no longer efficient to use human teams to carry out this at scale and at speed. 

The Cyber AI Loop is Darktrace’s approach to cyber security. The four product families make up a key aspect of an organization’s cyber security posture. Darktrace PREVENT, DETECT, RESPOND and HEAL each feed back into a continuous, virtuous cycle, constantly strengthening each other’s abilities. 

This cycle augments humans at every stage of an incident lifecycle. For example, PREVENT may alert you to a vulnerability which holds a particularly high risk potential for your organization. It provides clear mitigation advice, and while you are on this, PREVENT will feed into DETECT and RESPOND, which are immediately poised to kick in should an attack occur in the interim. Conversely, once an attack has been contained by RESPOND, it will feed information back into PREVENT which will anticipate an attacker’s likely next move. Cyber AI Loop helps you harden security a holistic way so that month on month, year on year, the organization continuously improves its defensive posture. 

Explainable AI

Despite its complexity, AI needs to produce outputs that are clear and easy to understand in order to be useful. In the heat of the moment during a cyber incident, human teams need to quickly comprehend: What happened here? When did it happen? What devices are affected? What does it mean for my business? What should I deal with first?

To this end, Darktrace applies another level of AI on top of its initial findings that autonomously investigates in the background, reducing a mass of individual security events to just a few overall cyber incidents worthy of human review. It generates natural-language incident reports with all the relevant information for your team to make judgements in an instant. 

Figure 1: An example of how Darktrace filters individual model breaches into incidents and then critical incidents for the human to review 

Cyber AI Analyst does not only take into consideration network detection but also in your endpoints, your cloud space, IoT devices and OT devices. Cyber AI Analyst also looks at your attack surface and the risks associated to triage and show you the most prioritized alerts that if unexpected would cause maximum damage to your organization. These insights are not only delivered in real time but also unique to your environment.

This also helps address another topic that frequently comes up in conversations around AI: false positives. This is of course a valid concern: what is the point of harvesting the value of AI if it means that a small team now must look at thousands of alerts? But we have to remember that while AI allows us to make more connections over the vastness of logs, its goal is not to create more work for security teams, but to augment them instead.

To ensure that your business can continue to own these AI outputs and more importantly the knowledge, Explainable AI such as that used in Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst is needed to interpret the findings of AI, to ensure human teams know what happened, what action (if any) the AI took, and why. 

Schlussfolgerung

Every organization is different, and its security should reflect that. However, some fundamental common challenges of AI in cyber security are shared amongst all security teams, regardless of size, resources, industry vertical, and culture. Their cyber strategy and maturity levels are what sets them apart. Maturity is not defined by how many professional certifications or how many years of experience the team has. A mature team works together to solve problems. They understand that while AI is not the silver bullet, it is a powerful bullet that if used right, will autonomously harden the security of the complete digital ecosystem, while augmenting the humans tasked with defending it. 

EINBLICKE IN DAS SOC-Team
Darktrace Cyber-Analysten sind erstklassige Experten für Threat Intelligence, Threat Hunting und Incident Response. Sie bieten Tausenden von Darktrace Kunden auf der ganzen Welt rund um die Uhr SOC-Support. Einblicke in das SOC-Team wird ausschließlich von diesen Experten verfasst und bietet Analysen von Cyber-Vorfällen und Bedrohungstrends, die auf praktischen Erfahrungen in diesem Bereich basieren.
AUTOR
ÜBER DEN AUTOR
Germaine Tan
VP of Cyber Risk Management

Germaine is the Director of Analysis, APAC at Darktrace. Based in Singapore, she works with CISOs, managers and security teams all over APAC on model optimization and operationalization of Darktrace in their digital environments. She also manages the team of 17 analysts in the APAC region that threat hunts and monitors networks from all over the world. Germaine holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Masters of Science in Technology Management from Nanyang Technological University. She is CISSP, CRISC and CEH certified.

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Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Schlussfolgerung

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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Managing Risk Beyond CVE Scores With the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/OT

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09
Apr 2024

Identifying Cyber Risk in Industrial Organizations

Compromised OT devices in ICS and SCADA environments pose significant physical risks, even endangering lives. However, identifying CVEs in the multitude of complex OT devices is labor-intensive and time-consuming, draining valuable resources.

Even after identifying a vulnerability, implementing a patch presents its own challenges limited maintenance windows and the need for uninterrupted operations strain IT and OT teams often leading organizations to prioritize availability over security leading vulnerabilities remaining unresolved for over 5 years on average. (1)

Darktrace’s New Innovation

Darktrace is an industry leader in cybersecurity with 10+ years of experience securing OT environments where we take a fundamentally different approach using Self-Learning AI to enhance threat detection and response.

Continuing to combat the expanding threat landscape, Darktrace is excited to announce new capabilities that enable a contextualized and proactive approach to managing cyber risk at industrial organizations.

Today we launch an innovation to our OT Cybersecurity solution, Darktrace/OT, that will add a layer of proactivity, enabling a comprehensive approach to risk management. This industry leading innovation for Darktrace/OT moves beyond CVE scores to redefine vulnerability management for critical infrastructure, tackling the full breadth of risks not limited by traditional controls.  

Darktrace/OT is the only OT security solution with comprehensive Risk Management which includes:

  • Contextualized risk analysis unique to your organization
  • The most realistic evaluation and prioritization of OT risk
  • Effectively mitigate risk across your OT infrastructure, with and without patching.
  • The only OT security solution that evaluates your defenses against Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Groups.

The most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for Critical Infrastructures

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology is a cutting-edge innovation that implements real time prevention, detection, response, and recovery for operational technologies and enables a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to cyber defense by learning a ‘pattern of life’ for every network, device, and user.  

Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks, AI technology learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats by detecting subtle shifts in behavior. Through identifying these unexpected anomalies, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, have live time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.  

  • Achieve greater visibility of OT and IT devices across all levels of the Purdue Model.
  • The industry's only OT security to scale threat detection and response, with a 92% time saving from triage to recovery.  
  • The only OT focused security solution to provide bespoke Risk Management.

To learn more about how Darktrace/OT approaches unique use cases for industrial organizations visit the Darktrace/OT Webpage or join us LIVE at a city near you.

Read more below to discover how new innovations to Darktrace/OT are bringing a new, contextualized approach to Risk Management for Industrial organizations.

For more information on the entire Darktrace/OT Solution read our solution brief here.

Darktrace/OT and New Risk Management

Risk Identification

Leveraging the visibility of Darktrace/OT which identifies individual systems throughout the Purdue Model and the relationship between them, Darktrace/OT identifies high-risk CVEs and presents potential attack routes that go beyond techniques requiring a known exploit, such as misuse of legitimate services. Each attack path will have a mathematical evaluation of difficulty and impact from initial access to the high value objectives.  

Together this gives comprehensive coverage over your real and potential risks from both an attacker and known vulnerability perspectives. OT attack paths as seen here even leverage insights between the industrial and corporate communications to reveal ways threat actors may take advantage of IT-OT convergence. This revelation of imperceptible risks fills gaps in traditional risk analysis like remote access and insider threats.

Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 2: A specific Attack Path identified by Darktrace/OT

Risk Prioritization

Darktrace/OT prioritizes remediations and mitigations based on difficulty and damage to your unique organization, using the established Attack Paths.

We ascertain the priorities that apply to your organization beyond pure theoretical damage answering questions like:

  • How difficult is a particular vulnerability to exploit considering the steps an attacker would require to reach it?
  • And, how significant would the impact be if it was exploited within this particular network?

This expanded approach to risk prioritization has a much more comprehensive evaluation of your organization's unique risk than has ever been possible before. Traditional approaches of ranking only known vulnerabilities with isolated scores using CVSS and exploitability metrics, often leaves gaps in IT-OT risks and is blind to legitimate service exploitation.

Figure 3: Darktrace/OT leverages its contextual understand of the organization’s network to prioritize remediation that will have the positive impact on the risk score

Darktrace provides mitigation strategies associated with each identified risk and the relevant impact it has on your overall risk posture, across all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

What sets Darktrace apart is our ability to contextualize these mitigations within the broader business. When patching vulnerabilities directly isn’t possible, Darktrace identifies alternative actions that harden attack paths leading to critical assets. Hardening the surrounding attack path increases the difficulty and therefore reduces the likelihood and impact of a breach.

That means unpatched vulnerabilities and vulnerable devices aren’t left unprotected. This also has an added bonus, those hardening techniques work for all devices in that network segment, so apply one change, secure many.

Figure 4: Darktrace prioritizes mitigation reducing accessibility of vulnerability and the overall risk score when patches aren’t available

Communicate Board Level Risk with APT Threat Mapping

Darktrace/OT bridges theory and practice as the only security solution that maps MITRE techniques, frequently used by APT Groups, onto AI-assessed critical Attack Paths. This unique solution provides unparalleled insights including sector and location intelligence, possible operating platforms, common techniques, exploited CVEs, and the number of potential devices affected in your environment, supporting holistic risk assessment and proactive defense measures.

Ultimately, this becomes a power dashboard to communicate board level risk, using both metric based evidence and industry standard threat mapping.

Schlussfolgerung

Darktrace/OT is part of the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform a native, holistic, AI-driven platform built on over ten years of AI research. It helps security teams shift to more a productive mode, finding the known and the unknown attacks and transforming the SOC with the various Darktrace products to drive efficiency gains. It does this across the whole incident lifecycle to lower risk, reduce time spent on active incidents, and drive return on investment.

Discover more about Darktrace's ever-strengthening platform with the upcoming changes coming to our Darktrace/Email product and other launch day blogs.

Join Darktrace LIVE half-day event to understand the reality versus the hype surrounding AI and how to achieve cyber resilience.

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.  

References

1. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/313646831/Catch_Me_if_You_Can.pdf

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About the author
Mitchell Bezzina
VP, Product and Solutions Marketing
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