Security Experts:

Improved Visibility a Top Priority for Security Analysts

Security Analysts Require Improved Visibility as well as Improved Threat Detection

Vendors listen to existing and potential customers to understand how to improve their products over time. At the smallest level, they use focus groups. At the largest level they employ market research firms to query thousands or more respondents from relevant employments and industry sectors. Some way in-between, they run their own relatively small-scale surveys primarily for their own benefit.

This is what Boston, MA-based next-gen endpoint protection firm Barkly did, querying some 70 IT and security professionals to understand what mid-market users look for and are not currently getting from their endpoint security controls. Not surprisingly, 60% of the respondents say that adding to or improving protection is their top priority -- possibly because 88% of them consider that there are types of attacks (for example, the growing practice of employing fileless attacks) that current security simply does not block.

More surprising, however, is that 40% of the respondents prioritize improving forensic and response capabilities as their current top priority. This may partly be driven by the new breed of regulations -- and in particular, GDPR  -- that demand increasingly rapid incident disclosure, and remediation of the breach vector to prevent repeats.

Alternatively, this may simply be down to a high ratio of alerts (including both true-positives and false-positives) to human-resources with their current products. While the sample size of the survey is small, forty-five percent of the respondents, Barkly says, "admit they currently don’t have enough time to investigate and respond to the incidents they’re already seeing now. Adding to that workload with complex endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions without considering current limitations is obviously not a productive answer."

The need for improved automation to reduce the time for manual involvement also shows in users' top frustrations with current solutions. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents are concerned with poor visibility into incidents, and 25% are concerned about limited investigative/response features. A further 18% find current solutions difficult and time-consuming to manage.

The need to make incident response faster and simpler is the driving force behind Barkly's new version 3.0 launched today. Rapid response comes from two new features: endpoint isolation; and file quarantine and delete. The first enables an administrator to instantly remove an affected device from the network while the incident is investigated. 

This is a one-click operation via the Barkly CommandIQ management portal, and can be enacted from any location, on- or off-site at any time via any remote or mobile device with internet access. As soon as the affected device is cleaned or confirmed to be clean, it can just as easily be returned to the network. It means that both an alert and its response can be handled instantly without requiring the security administrator to be in his office or to return to his office first.

The second feature automatically quarantines a blocked malicious executable. This instantly contains the threat, but maintains administrative access to the file for further investigation before deletion. Again, this can be performed either from the administrator's office desktop, or remotely via a mobile device.

A further two new features help analysts to investigate incidents. The first provides an automated interactive method for users to provide context, which is fed back to the analyst, whenever a file or process is blocked. The second is Incident Path Visualization, enabling analysts to trace malicious processes back to their origins.

Together, these features provide rapid forensic insight into the cause of the incident, allowing the security team to leverage the insights gained to improve their security going forwards.

Barkly version 3.0 adds the ability for automated and rapid response to its existing machine-learning threat detection engine. Its ability to do this via any mobile device means there is no delay if an incident occurs while administrators are off-site. The intention is to enable existing staff levels to handle workloads more efficiently without being stretched too thin, and without requiring additional company manpower.

Related: Mobile Response to Security Alerts Allows Immediate Action Anywhere, Anytime 

Related: Demystifying Machine Learning: Turning the Buzzword into Benefits for Endpoint Security 

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Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines – from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.