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The recent Sony hack attack tells us that a data breach could inflict huge damage and embarassment to a company. Investigators haven’t ruled out the possibility of a disgruntled ex-employee behind the attack.
One way to prevent your employees from stealing your company’s data is to detect anomalous behavior coming from an employee—online behavior and even offline computer behavior that’s strays outside the line, that’s a little unexpected.
This is called anomaly detection, and it can help prevent a data breach. But it’s easier said than done, because this technology is relatively new. It’s part of a realm called data science. Data science spots behavior that’s not considered reasonable, that somehow deviates from an established norm. This is the first step in detecting a threat.
A fine balance must be established so that the detection doesn’t go overboard and start over-flagging benign behavior, yet at the same time, doesn’t miss behavior that’s being committed by a fraudster…subtle shifts from the norm.
Companies don’t want too many alerts, which can blur what’s really going on, desensitizing the effect of the anomaly detection. There have been cases in which a genuine anomaly was detected (and eventually a data breach occurred), but so many red flags were raised that the threat got lost in the muddle, essentially the boy crying wolf.
When an anomalous action is detected, the next step is to notify the security team to investigate hands-on. And there are two more steps: alert the suspicious user’s boss and outright stop the user from having any access to the company’s system. The threat must be well-understood, with evidence gathered to present to the user in question.
Ideally, they want to not only accurately detect genuine threats (no false alarms) but also know how to effectively respond and handle the threats. There must be rhyme and reason, structure and methodology to anomaly detection: a follow-through plan.
Anomalous behavior detection is a blossoming field of technology that’s come a long way, but has a long way to go. It’s far from perfect, but businesses desperately need it. It’s preventive medicine. It’s worth the investment and ongoing refinements. No company should be without it.
Meanwhile, protect yourself from account takeover if an insider gets your data: