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What is Security Analytics? Learn about the Use Cases and Benefits of Security Analytics Tools

by Nate Lord on Wednesday September 12, 2018

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Using security analytics tools, enterprises and smaller organizations alike are better equipped to collect as much useful data as possible to improve detection and provide proactive alerts for attempted attacks or incidents that are in progress.

A Definition of Security Analytics

Security analytics is the process of using data collection, aggregation, and analysis tools for security monitoring and threat detection. Depending on the types of tools installed, security analytics solutions can incorporate large and diverse data sets into their detection algorithms. Security analytics data can be collected in several ways, including from:

  • Network traffic
  • Endpoint and user behavior data
  • Cloud resources
  • Business applications
  • Non-IT contextual data
  • Identity and access management data
  • External threat intelligence sources

Recent technological advancements in security analytics include adaptive learning systems that fine tune detection models based on experience and learnings, as well as anomaly detection logic. These technologies accumulate and analyze real-time data that includes:

  • Asset metadata
  • Geo-location
  • Threat intelligence
  • IP context

These forms of data can then be used for both immediate threat response and investigations.

Benefits of Security Analytics

Security analytics tools bring several key benefits to organizations:

1. Proactive security incident detection and response. Security analytics tools analyze data from a range of sources, connecting the dots between various events and alerts to detect threats or security incidents in real time. In order to do so, security analytics software analyzes log data, combines it with data from other sources, and pinpoints correlations between events.

2. Maintaining regulatory compliance. One major driver for security analytics tools is compliance with government and industry regulations. Regulations like HIPAA and PCI-DSS require measures such as data activity monitoring or log collection for auditing and forensics, and security analysis tools can integrate a wide swath of data types to give companies a single, unified view of all data events across devices. This enables compliance managers to closely monitor regulated data and identify potential non-compliance.

3. Improved forensics capabilities. Security analytics solutions are highly valuable for conducting forensic investigations into incidents. Security analytics tools can provide insights into where an attack originated from, how a compromise happened, what resources were compromised, what data was lost, and more, along with a timeline for the incident. Being able to reconstruct and analyze an incident helps to inform and improve organizational defenses to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen in the future.

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Security Analytics Use Cases

Security analytics has a variety of use cases, from improving data visibility and threat detection to network traffic analysis and user behavior monitoring. Some of the most common security analytics use cases include:

  • Employee monitoring
  • Analyzing user behavior to detect potentially suspicious patterns
  • Analyzing network traffic to pinpoint trends indicating potential attacks
  • Identifying improper user account usage, such as shared accounts
  • Detecting data exfiltration by attackers
  • Detecting insider threats
  • Identifying compromised accounts
  • Investigating incidents
  • Threat hunting
  • Demonstrating compliance during audits

Above all, the primary goal of security analytics is to turn raw data from disparate sources into actionable insights to identify events that require an immediate response through the correlation of activities and alerts. In doing so, security analytics tools add a critical filter to the volumes of data generated by users, applications, networks, and other security solutions in place.

Tags: Data Protection 101

Nate Lord

Nate Lord is the former editor of Data Insider and is currently an account manager covering the southeast, Great Lakes, and Latin America regions at Digital Guardian. He has over 7 years of experience in the information security industry, working at Veracode prior to joining Digital Guardian in 2014. Nate enjoys learning about the complex problems facing information security professionals and collaborating with Digital Guardian customers to help solve them.