How XDR can help protect against sophisticated threat actors

It’s not easy being a business these days. Organizations are under siege against automated attacks and more sophisticated attacks that specifically target their company and vulnerabilities. Malicious actors are using a mix of techniques that are making attacks more effective and harder to detect. They’re taking advantage of a more hostile environment that’s the result of organizational-wide shifts and a larger attack surface, putting organizations at risk.

Essentially, organizations have more vulnerabilities than ever before and they’re more exposed than ever before. This means all security leaders need to invest in more security tools and protective capabilities to defend against advanced attacks and attackers. Unfortunately, this creates a new challenge where you have an environment full of disparate tools that may not work together. Instead of focusing on adding tools to your security stack, it’s more important to streamline your security objectives – prevention, detection, and response. One of the more effective ways is to consider an XDR solution, or extended detection and response.

Here’s what you need to know about the types of advanced attacks you’ll face, and how XDR can help defend against these new types of attacks.

Organizations need to protect an ever-increasing attack surface

Organizations simply have more to protect than ever before. They have:

More devices: The use of employee devices (also known as BYOD, or bring your own device), as well as the fact that employees are often multiple devices like their laptops, workstations, and personal mobile devices has exploded the number of devices connecting to an organization’s network.

The increased connections are also the result of IoT devices and other wireless devices. These aren’t just printers and scanners, but security cameras, smart TVs, and even smart fridges that may be connected to an organization’s main network.

More employees: Successful organizations don’t often stop growing, but as more employees join a company, the more risk they bring. Both automated and sophisticated attacks still use employees as a vector to compromise an organization. More employees means more identities, giving attackers more opportunities to move laterally and exploit a key identity that has access to the sensitive data an attacker is looking for.

As of January 2020, non-farm employment has increased by nearly 20M since April 2020. All those additional jobs create more risk vectors and if you don’t have the right security measures or tools in place to handle an influx of new employees, it can lead to a compromise or ransomware attack.

Larger infrastructure: The average company has more cloud-servers, more offices, and a larger overall footprint. Between cloud-based vendors, infrastructure, and digital supply chain providers, an organization needs to secure their on-prem network (potentially across multiple locations), protect their remote employees, and make sure third-parties aren’t exposing them to potential attacks.

Even smaller third-parties can add up to a lot of risk for the average organization. Most companies use third-party tools for a number of different services and processes, whether social media, email, payroll, and more. These third-parties, if misconfigured or without any security, can be how an attacker reaches your sensitive data.

Hackers are using advanced techniques to target organizations

For a long time, automated attacks were the scourge of most organizations. Spam attacks, automated account takeovers, and spray-and-pray style of phishing attacks caused headaches for most security leaders and departments. Fortunately, methods like 2FA, firewalls, and email protection services (tools you should be deploying in your organization) have rendered these attacks into annoyances that are relatively easy to deal with.

Increase in zero-day vulnerabilities: Savvy hackers and malicious actors know that these automated attacks aren’t as successful as before and are resorting to targeted methods. The increase in zero-day vulnerabilities shows that malicious hackers are working hard in trying to find more effective ways to compromise organizations, and they’re willing to exploit these vulnerabilities at a clip higher than before. The fact that 2021 broke the record for the most 0-day vulnerabilities just shows that hackers are putting in the effort to find new exploits like we’ve never seen before.

Combining attack methods and techniques: Malicious hackers are also combining various attacks to make their way into an organization. For example, ransomware is no longer just the result of phishing attacks but can be carried out across multiple bad actors via third-party vulnerabilities or as part of an APT campaign. DDoS attacks often preclude a larger attack and some groups are known to use DDoS attacks against ransomware-compromised victims in order to incentivize ransomware payment. The increase in third-party and infrastructure attacks to hit larger organizations show that these bad actors are evolving their techniques and planning ahead.

Organizations need to combat advanced attacks with advanced technology

While security leaders should invest in and not ignore helpful tools like MFA, traditional EDR, and spam filter, AV, and firewall solutions, these technologies aren’t enough to protect against the more sophisticated and targeted attacks we’re seeing in the wild. One effective solution is for organizations to invest in XDR, or extended detection and response.

XDR solutions are often built on top of traditional EDR but provide security and analysis beyond traditional endpoints, covering multi-cloud databases, email security, while supporting identity access management as well as network analysis and visibility.

By working across multiple attack and risk vectors beyond what traditional EDR offers, organizations can leverage various analytics, security data, and detection tools to have a full view of where a hacker may try and compromise an organization.

The right XDR tools are designed to incorporate larger attack surfaces and multiple cloud environments to address the modern configurations of organizations today. These tools can provide insight, visibility, detection, and response tools, flagging anomalous behavior and unauthorized entries across multiple points in a company’s overall infrastructure, not just their owned endpoints. Effective XDR tools can provide the following:

Protection at scale: Because XDR tools are designed for the cloud, they’re also designed to support a growing organization, their employees, and their devices.

Full-visibility: With XDR, you’ll be able to see whether a bad actor is lurking anywhere in your environment, giving you the time to respond quickly before an incident actually happens.

Robust data and analysis: XDR also provides telemetry from a number of sources, which is critical for response in the face of a potential attack. With more data, you’re able to quickly react, but most importantly, know what was compromised, how, and be able to enact your remediation strategy faster than ever.

Security fundamentals are important but enterprises need more than just the basics

It’s absolutely necessary to invest in security fundamentals like AV, firewalls, and spam filters, as well as enabling 2FA (or MFA) for as many services as possible. These will prevent many of the automated attacks that bombard companies on a constant basis looking for an unassuming and exposed target.

But for enterprises and companies in high risk industries, who work with high-risk partners, or use a third-party vendor used by nearly all organizations, investing in more advanced security technology is needed to help defend against advanced and targeted attacks that can result in a major compromise.

XDR tools have been designed to address these advanced attacks and should be heavily considered for any security leader who wants to truly safeguard their department.

To learn more about Bitdefender’s XDR solutions, check out Forrester’s report.