Shomiron Das Gupta

A recent trend has seen organizations leveraging the cloud for their critical workloads. Specifically, the FinTech Industry is shifting from being cloud averse to a cloud-first strategy given the increasing demands of digital transformation. While this has made lives easier today, being online opens the door to increased risk and vulnerabilities. Security risks include malware attacks, cloud environment security risks, data breaches, application security risks, system outages, and so on. Also, developing a comprehensive plan to detect threats and protect data is of utmost importance for the FinTech industry.

For being highly regulated, it’s important that the cloud strategy also includes threat detection to be at the top of the list for such organizations.

The economy is trying to recover gradually after the global crisis caused by the pandemic. Innovations are crucial for this revival. Building a risk-free online ecosystem is crucial for any financial system to function seamlessly.

Let us look at the top threat detection strategies.

Focus on complete coverage and visibility

The attack surface has expanded exponentially with organizations working in hybrid environments. A larger attack surface leads to increased security costs, preventing organizations from securing data sources lower down on the priority list. Threat actors thus focus on the bottom of the list (unsecured and, therefore, easier targets) as an entry point. Hence it is pivotal that organizations focus on increasing their visibility across the entire ecosystem. This will enable them to correlate and detect threats at the very first stage on the kill chain.

Leverage threat intelligence (TI)

TI Feeds enable organizations to enrich and validate against known signatures forming an effective way to detect threats. SIEMs, Antivirus and IDS systems utilize this TI feeds to increase the value of data ingested. More importantly, TI feeds, or validation APIs, allow attacks on campaigns and threat actors. As a result, one can anticipate threat possibilities and envisage scenarios before they actually manifest.

Analyzing user behavior

Baselining normal behavior (access, login, locations, etc.) and validating active behavioral changes against the baselines with User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) will enable organizations to detect abnormal patterns. Unrelated activities detected in the network over time also act as building pieces to detect external threats. Behavior analytics gives the ability to identify threats that were previously undiscovered or threats that were not designed to detect.

 Attacks on applications

Defending applications is often the most difficult part because they are usually custom-built for every requirement. Besides, applications also do not have a central framework that ensures a base level of security. This means each app needs to be tested and defended differently. A good approach to defending applications would be to monitor application events and build threat scenarios to prevent specific entry points and access to crowned jewels. A similar approach can be followed to protect application APIs.

Being proactive and not reactive

Defining periodic threat hunting exercises helps organizations detect threats outside the boundaries and present strategies. A proactive approach will only move the ecosystems closer to the threat detection goals. Start with identifying inventory databases and then engage with the team to identify crowned jewels, applying special attention to these sources while increasing visibility across the estate.

Defined a threat approach plan

Building defense logic relevant to individual organizations is the key. Having thousands of use cases only means alert fatigue and an increase in false positives. A defined threat approach plan works wonders. One way of doing this is by aligning the detection strategy with the MITRE ATT&CK framework. This gives organizations visibility across various techniques and tactics used by threat actors (derailing attacks, lateral movements, exfiltration, etc.)

Developing a comprehensive incident response plan

All businesses must develop a robust response plan to minimize the potential damage of any attack, reduce recovery time, and lower associated costs. Whether it is an Internet attack, a natural disaster, or the end of an ISP, enterprises need to make sure everyone knows what is required of them and set clear obligations to return to normal activities as quickly and painlessly as possible. By establishing a clear set of instructions and procedures to follow in the event of various problems, organizations can prevent the type of panic that makes the situation worse.

However, having a plan is not enough. Being able to rehearse the plan with the team is also extremely important. Every team member needs to recognize their role and play accordingly during an incident. The incident response must be a part of muscle memory for every thread handler and incident responder.


(The author Shomiron Das Gupta, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, DNIF and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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