Saturday, 29 May 2021

Identify, Contain, Recover: A Blueprint of Incident Handling

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Incident response is a systematic and coordinated approach to identify, contain, and recover from a cyber-security breach. The goal of incident response is to immediately respond and mitigate the impact of the suspected data breach within the organization. An incident response plan provides the organization with a clear set of instructions that act as the blueprint of incident handling. That said, the incident response planning contains specific directions to identifying damages, containing cybersecurity risk, and reducing recovering time.

This article will discuss the three steps – identify, contain, and recover – within the incident response plan that also acts as a blueprint of incident handling. But before that, let us briefly discuss the incident response and why incident response planning is important.

Incident Response

Targeted cybersecurity attacks towards the organization can wreak havoc, affecting customers, brand value, and the company’s intellectual property. The incident response mechanism helps the organization reduce these damages and recover from the security breach as soon as possible. Investigating the security breach is an important component as it can help the organization better prepare itself for the future. Also, with most businesses experiencing cyber-attacks these days, having a well-developed incident response is the best way to protect the organization.

Importance of Incident Response Planning

Planning for incident response is crucial because it acts as a blueprint for the organization to minimize the damage and duration of security incidents. Moreover, it also helps identify the key stakeholders, improve recovery time, reduce customer churn rate, and streamline digital forensics.

Even small cybersecurity attacks such as malware infection can snowball into exponentially large problems for organizations. Therefore, having a proper incident response plan can help the organization minimize losses and patch up vulnerabilities in the system. Moreover, planning for incident response can also help the organization establish best practices for incident handling and the development of a communication plan to notify employees, staff, and law enforcement agencies.

Blueprint of Incident Handling

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Efficient incident handling of a data breach has three crucial stages – identification, containment, and recovery.

1. Identify

Whenever a security breach occurs within your organization, it is imperative to determine the nature of the incident. Therefore, start by documenting your response as you identify which aspects of your systems have been compromised and the potential damage inflicted by the breach. The identification step of the incident response is based on the monitoring of the system and networks so that if any irregularities are found, they can be flagged immediately. Being said that, once you have identified the incident, you will have to determine the type, severity, and other impacts related to it.

2. Contain

Good incident response is based on how quickly the organization contains the impact of the security breach. Your preparation of the incident response plan must ensure that you have access to the right tools and skills, which will help you with the containment process of the security breach. It is one of those steps in your incident response plan wherein time is of utmost importance.

3. Recovery

Once you have contained the threat, the next step in the incident handling process is to recover from the damages inflicted. For this, you can start by getting your systems up and running again. However, it is very crucial to continuously monitor your systems to ensure that the incident has been completely resolved and that there are no other potential threats left. Ensure that all of your systems are restored and backed up to resume operations.


Thursday, 27 May 2021

All About Regulatory Compliance: What It Is and Why Is It Essential?

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In this fast-moving world, there have been various developments and discoveries that are now impossible to work without. Every organization has been developing and incorporating the multiple findings made. With the addition of new equipment and the incorporation of new technologies and strategies, it is vital to maintain specific laws, policies, and regulations to maintain stability, security, a practical and statistical approach. With the implication of such rules, policies/guidelines, and regulations, an order of uniformity and stability is maintained. Legal actions can be taken if any regulation or policy is violated and is the basic foundation of the organization. These rules and policies are known as regulatory compliance. Employees are required to adhere to and follow the policies and regulations stated. Every working sector has regulatory compliance, which is followed, and violating them can result in legal consequences.

What Is Regulatory Compliance (RC)?

Regulatory compliance is the organization’s adherence to the various laws, regulations, policies, guidelines, and other standards, which the government establishes. It accomplishes the regulation’s commitment to accounting, tax, judicial reporting, and other compliance factors. Regulatory compliance is set for every industry by the government and varies from country to country. It is essential for business employees and administrators to have the basic knowledge and the understanding of the laws and regulations and how they work and why they are crucial. Failing to abide by the laws and regulations, legal action can be taken against the individual.

Regulatory compliance management and auditing are usually expensive ventures. The organizations need to invest in fulfilling the compliance laws and conciliating the stakeholders to maintain the business process by turning a profit simultaneously. It is often confusing and complex as the organization has to imply various compliance requirements in every sector in the organization’s market. There has always been a dual verdict when it comes to regulation. Many individuals debate about it, stating that it should radically diminish the burden of the regulation. In contrast, the other half of individuals debate contradicting to them on how regulation is essential to maintain accurate and secure corporate behavior.

Importance of Regulatory Compliance (RC)

Regulatory compliance is considered to be an establishment of customer protection. It ensures that the organizations do not have misconduct that may harm society. Organizations that do not follow/imply regulatory compliance can be fined and face other legal consequences. RC plays a vital role in consumer-oriented industries such as Healthcare (HIPPA), financial (PCI-DSS, GLBA), food and beverage industry (HACCP), and federal agencies (FISMA). Few organizations preserve compliance data: the data associated with the organization or included in the law, which is used later for auditing purposes and to implement and validate compliances incorporating the latest updates. Every organization needs to integrate regulatory compliance as it also helps in the management of compliance data, like audit trails, data transfers, etc., more efficiently.  When the rules, policies, and procedures are not followed/complied by, it results in a compliance breach. Breaches can result from human or technical error, the misconception of the obligations, or can be done intentionally. Compliance breach often ruins the reputation of the organization or the brand, leading to a lot of damage concerning the financial aspects of the organizations. The problem is minimized by enforcing compliance training, which giver a clear outlook of why and how is regulatory compliance is essential and how to maintain it.

Implementation of Regulatory Compliance (RC)

It is important to ensure the accurate implementation of regulatory compliance in an organization. To have substantial regulatory compliance, it must have comprehensiveness, attention to detail, precise analytics of the data and requirements. This can be broadly classified into six steps:

1. Identification of applicable acts, regulations, directives, standards:

Knowing which laws are required based on the nature/sector of the organizations is essential to understand implement an accurate act/law which is up to date with the terms and conditions. Every law has a unique structure making it difficult to finalize the apt law and acts required for the organization.

2. Identify acceptable requirements:

Identify all the laws, regulations, and policies applicable/suitable for the organization’s operations. Compliances are expensive and time-consuming, and hence it is necessary to know and understand which regulations and their applicability are apt for the organization and its standards. Government issues guidance documents help the organization understand the requirements and how the government interprets them concerning various regulatory aspects.

3. Monitor for changes:

With the evolution of technologies, there are constant changes in the requirements that regularly need to be updated. It is essential to monitor all the documents thoroughly to identify if a change in regulation is required.

4. Determining the applicability of the changes:

Once a change is detected in applicable law, determining if the changes would comply and fit in perfectly concerning the organizations is important. If it is apt, it can be implemented, and the required training about the updated law should be given.

5. Collaborating with the team and with experts:

Once a change is determined as applicable, it is necessary to imply tasks to close the compliance gap which has been caused due to the change. The tasks should be defined and supported by references supporting it and must answer the five W’s:

◉ Why should we have the change?

◉ When should we have to change?

◉ What should be changed?

◉ Who is responsible for implementing the change?

◉ Where should the change take place (sector of the organization)?

6. Documentation of compliance reviews: It is essential and a must to maintain evidence of the compliance reviews. This evidence plays a vital role during audits and helps in a better understanding of the compliance regulations and their overdue course time.

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Regulatory Compliance Training

It is essential to regularly conduct compliance training for the employees to create awareness about the regulations, laws, policies, standards, etc., which are implemented in their organization. Regulatory compliance training ensures that the employees know every policy’s necessity and abide by them to avoid legal consequences when policy or regulatory law is violated. This prevents poor conduct, bad interpersonal behavior and enables in gaining a good reputation. Regulatory compliance deals with the laws, legal directives, and the legislation stated by the government bodies, whereas corporate compliance deals with an organization’s internal compliance structure, which all the organization’s employees follow. It is very crucial to maintain and protect the organization over the long term.

◉ Employee engagement by building employee awareness: Employees who understand and abide by the organization’s compliance are more reliable and often promote a healthier environment.

◉ Defines the policies and goals of an organization: Every organization defines its policies and plans to succeed. The policies help in maintaining a smooth and ordeal environment which, when violated, can lead to legal consequences, which helps the organization eliminate internal threats and risks.

◉ Safer working environment: A virtuous and stable compliance policy enables and promotes a positive working behavior, making it simple yet effective and have good communication amongst the employees, making them feel well associated with the organizational values.

Regulatory compliance is a crucial and vital part of every organization. To maintain the regulatory compliances and retain them, organizations hire compliance specialists who have complete knowledge and help the organization by suggesting and making compliance-related decisions to achieve the desired goals. Organizations usually prefer a certified specialist, as compliance is ultimately a technical process. Organizations typically hire a CISO to handle the organization’s significant security aspects, including regulatory compliance implications.


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

What Is a Data Breach and How Much Does It Cost?

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The world is connected through the internet. Every business and company is using the internet today, and most transactions are made online, leaving data at risk. Hence data security becomes a major aspect in securing that data. At the same time, data breaches are increasing by the day, becoming a threat and transform into unavoidable danger.

As reported by IBM, the average cost of data breaches in 2020 was USD 3.86 million. The global information security market is forecast to grow at a five-year CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 8.5% to reach $170.4 billion in 2022. This article will talk about what a data breach is and the consequential cost of a data breach.

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is a process of stealing information from the organization’s system unauthentically. Whether it is a small company or a big company, or organization can face data breaches. Because of this, very sensitive and confidential information can be stolen, like credit card details, customer data, etc. If a data breach has happened in any organization or company, it affects customer and company data and the company’s or organization’s reputation can be damaged.

Data breaches have become more common and noticeable because of cloud storage and the internet. Such data breaches have existed since the 1980s, but their awareness has been increasing since the 2000s.

The six most common ways data breaches occur in organizations are criminal hacking, human error, social engineering, malware, unauthorized use, and physical action.

Phases of a Data Breach


In this phase, the attacker chooses a target and finds out the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the system and organization. They research the target, i.e., employee, system, or organization, and then try to get all the necessary information needed to attack and gain access to confidential data.

The attacker may even go to the extent of looking up job listing to know what software and hardware the target organization use. They may also check how much the targeted organization spends on cybersecurity. This will help them make a data breach plan accordingly.


This is an essential phase as an attacker tries to make contact through a network-based or social attack. When the attacker attempts to make contact, they may disguise themselves so that the target does not doubt the chances of a data breach. They might upload the malware, hijack the server, etc., for attacking onto organization’s systems.

In a network-based attack, the attackers try to get into the organization or system using organizational or system weaknesses that are already spotted in the research phase. It may include SQL injection or session hacking but is not limited to this form of attack.

In a social attack, the attacker tricks the people using trust and tries to get confidential information like credentials to the organization’s network. Sometimes, they use malicious emails to cheat employees.


In the exfiltrate phase, the attacker gets access into the organizational network or the system. After gaining access, it is easier for the attacker to obtain sensitive and confidential information. They can download the data they sought, such as credit card details, customer details, organization details, etc., for various fraud purposes.

Attackers can use this data to blackmail or cause another cyberattack on either the customer or the organization and the network.

Industries Affected by Data Breaches

Many industries are affected by data breaches. Some of the most affected industries are:


The main aim of a data breach in healthcare is financial gain. If the hacker gets the necessary medical data from people, it may help them get unauthorized prescription medications that will be beneficial for them.

Between 2009 and 2020, 3,705 healthcare data breaches have been reported to HHS’ office for Civil Rights. The average number of data breaches per day for 2020 was 1.76. The cost of data breaches in the healthcare industry was USD 7.13 million in 2020, reported by IBM.


Retailers suffer from DoS attacks on their websites. In the retail industry, they use third-party organizations to provides services. The retailers often don’t give priority and a particular focus on securing payment data. And because of this, the attackers are more likely to steal the data like credit card details of the customers. In the retail industry, the average cost of data breaches is 2.01 million USD reported by 2020.


The financial services industry is an industry in which data breaches are more likely to happen. The banks, lenders, and insurance companies are the source of many data breaches. The banks are often at risk of data breaches 300 times more frequently than other industries. The data breaches happen mostly on web applications because many customers use applications to access their accounts. The banking industry costs $18.3 million in 2018, reported by Accenture. The average cost of data breaches in financial services is 5.85 million USD reported by Varonis.

Public Sector

The public sector is affected by cyberattacks. Since there is a lot of data in the government sector, there are so many chances of data breaches. Daily, data breaches are reported at an increasing rate. The Government data is stolen for financial gain. Some people attack the government database because only for fun. The situation can get worse because of the lack of investment in cybersecurity. In the public sector, the average cost of data breaches is 1.08 million USD reported by 2020.

Top 5 Challenges When Implementing a Data Breach Response Plan

Here we see the top 5 challenges in implementing a data breach response plan

1. Identifying a suspected cybersecurity incident

When an organization is exposed, it’s important to first identify the data breach. The difference between a moderate disruption and disaster often relies on this factor. Therefore, information security risk assessments are very important. They assist in detecting weaknesses and information regarding how to access them.

2. Identifying what systems, networks, and information have been compromised

It’s essential to ensure that operations continue to run as soon as possible after a breach. Systems, network and data records should be monitored regularly to identify if any of them have been tampered with or accessed from an unauthorized account. Log files can assist in keeping a record of all the files and the individual accessing them.

3. Analyzing the cybersecurity incident’s potential business impact

To plan for the long term, we need to know the financial implications of the breach. The cost of recovery and the loss in efficiency will affect revenue and also the capacity to meet deadlines. The decision about cybersecurity insurance and a data breach response budget will be informed by estimating the financial damage of breaches.

4. Conducting a sufficient investigation using forensics

Not all organizations have the ability to conduct a forensic investigation, and those who do will not be familiar with the process. However, the process can be essential for identifying the clues that could bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Consequences of a Data Breach

There are many ways that a data breach can end. Here are three of the most common consequences of a data security breach.

1. Revenue loss

Security breach ultimately leads to revenue loss. To give an example, a nonworking website may cause potential customers to survey other options.

2. Loss of intellectual property

The damage in reputation and revenue is tragic. Businesses in the manufacturing and construction industries are more prone to this threat. Sometimes hackers target designs, strategies, and blueprints.

3. Hidden costs

There are many other costs related to breaches. Ground-level costs are just the beginning. Like, the legal fees may be charged, and there is also a need to spend more money on PR and investigations.


Saturday, 22 May 2021

Decentralized Finance: What It Is and How It Helps Businesses?

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Blockchain has gained momentum over the past few years, and industries from every sector are keen on implementing blockchain technology to develop protocols, applications and benefit from its decentralized and distributed structure. The financial industry is no different and is looking for technologies that provide security and convenience. Therefore, the use of crypto assets has been increased as an individual from anywhere can access their purchases, make payments and benefit from other advantages as well. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is the new path used to manage and monitor finances in a decentralized environment with no interference from an intermediary.

With crypto being used in various industries and proving to be a benefit for them, it can be expected that the majority of financial services will look forward to implementing DeFi in their infrastructure. It can bring revolution in the insurance industry due to its applications in lending and borrowing activities. 

What Is Decentralized Finance?

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) refers to the financial transactions that eradicate intermediaries between participants. It uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to eliminate central authorities and provide peer-to-peer facilities to carry out financial services such as banking, loans, mortgages, and more. The primary purpose of DeFi is to establish an open-source, transparent, and permissionless ecosystem without any central authority owning the power over financial transactions. It allows participants to control their assets, efficiently conduct peer-to-peer exchanges and build decentralized applications (dApps).

Once a transaction is carried out in a traditional banking system, its details are recorded in a private ledger owned and monitored by a financial institution. However, in DeFi, the financial transactions are stored in a computer code on a decentralized public ledger. All participants using DeFi applications and platforms have an identical copy of the general ledger. This ledger holds the information of every transaction in encryption code. Since decentralized blockchain platforms and applications are immutable, the records of ownership cannot be modified or deleted by a third party providing security in verifying transactions and storing their data.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) works on the traditional financial system and replaces the intermediaries or central authorities with smart contracts. A smart contract is an automated merger, enforces agreements without intermediary involvement, and is easily accessible by anyone with an established internet connection. Most of the DeFi protocols work on the Ethereum blockchain, and the decentralized applications are often created using Ethereum.

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Applications of DeFi

Some of the applications of decentralized finance are:

Decentralized Exchanges (DeX)

Decentralized Exchanges (DeX) allow participants to exchange tokens with other assets in their possession without a need of a custodian. It will enable them to transact peer-to-peer and monitor their funds. It reduces the risk of theft as crypto assets are not in the exchange custody itself. Some DeX includes Uniwasp, Curve, SushiSwap, AirSwap, etc.

Lending and Borrowing platforms

The lending and borrowing protocols are some of the widely used applications in the DeFi ecosystem. Decentralized lending platforms offer loans to businesses or individuals without any involvement of an intermediary. DeFi lending protocols also help individuals to earn interest in their supplied cryptocurrencies and stable coins. The lending and borrowing platforms use smart contracts to eliminate intermediaries such as banks, financial institutions, etc., creating an ecosystem where borrowers and lenders can participate in open infrastructure. It assists borrowers by offering them liquidity without selling off their possessed assets and providing lenders the chance to earn interest by loaning crypto assets.


One of the primary applications of DeFi is for making payments and other banking services. DeFi payments will create payments and banking systems to eliminate the third party, and therefore, individuals can directly transfer their cryptocurrency through a secured channel. With DeFi, faster payments and processes can be ensured. It helps large financial institutions streamline market infrastructure and serve wholesale and retail customers in a disciplined manner. It also assists in reaching out to people in a systematic way.

Predicting Market

Blockchain-based prediction marketplaces allow users to vote, trade, or bet on the outcomes of future events. DeFi prediction markets combine the knowledge of a particular event through various oracles. These markets have smart contracts that decide how much the individuals will get paid if a specific event occurs. The platforms operate similarly to the traditional prediction markets without an intermediary. Examples of the DeFi prediction market are Augur, Gnosis, and FTX.

Advantages of DeFi


New financial instruments and digital assets can be built rapidly by taking advantage of the highly programmable smart contracts and their automated execution, which helps run everything smoothly.


Blockchain’s decentralized nature offers immutability. It indicates that a record, once stored, cannot be modified or deleted through any form. Therefore, decentralized finance is built on the exact nature and provides increased security and audit precision.


New DeFi applications or products can be built or modified by combining the existing product with another DeFi product. Developers have the flexibility to create new products on top of existing protocols, customize the user interface and integrate third-party applications. Therefore, DeFi products are often referred to as ‘Money Legos.’


Public Ethereum blockchain allows every individual participant to broadcast and verify transactions on the network. It boosts qualitative data analysis and ensures that every user can access the network’s activities. DeFi protocols are built with open-source code, allowing individuals to read, modify and use the code to make other DeFi products.


Every individual is allowed to use DeFi applications and products as well as build them without any restrictions. It also enables users to direct smart contract contracts through their crypto wallets without any minimum amount of resources.

Challenges Faced While Using DeFi

Data feed centralization

Blockchain protocols cannot access off-chain data records or information. Many blockchain technologies use third-party services that allow access to external information. They work as bridges between blockchains and the outside information. The central point of trust in a decentralized infrastructure proves to be the vulnerability for a smart contract. If an external third-party feeds corrupted information, then it would disrupt the DeFi protocols.

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Security risks with smart contracts

As smart contracts form the fundamental backbone of any DeFi protocol or application, the security risk related to them can disrupt the entire application or protocol. Smart contracts are open-source, enabling users and programmers to review them before investing in the DeFi protocol. They tend to miss flaws in the smart contracts, which raises the threat of a cyberattack. Therefore, developers must ensure their smart contracts go through various audit levels.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) can prove to be the next big thing in the technology world since it provides advantages to all the sectors looking for a secured financial infrastructure. With blockchain technology as its backbone, DeFi is has a high probability of getting incorporated by various organizations.


Thursday, 20 May 2021

The Ultimate Guide to a Cybersecurity Audit: An Essential for Your Success

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With the evolution in technology and constant development, there have been discoveries, advanced technologies being used regularly. This has also led to a rise in cyberattacks. The perpetrator has adopted various methods to infiltrate the new and updated applications, databases, etc., which raises significant concerns for the application’s security to maintain confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity. Organizations store the data on the system, which undergoes regular updates. At times, few vulnerabilities may be present with the new version of an application after an update, giving the attacker infiltrate the system. Therefore, a system to monitor and verify these aspects is required. Security audits are the systematic evaluation or analysis of the security aspects of the organization’s data/information based on various sets of conditions and criteria.

What Is A Security Audit and How Is It Performed?

A cybersecurity audit is the systematic evaluation of the organization’s security policies and determining the accuracy and how well it matches the established standards and guidelines. Security audits have become an integral part of the organization’s assessments. They are performed on the information security level of the organization. The audit is performed on three broadly classified aspects which are technical, physical, and administrative.

Read More: EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)

Security audits are very crucial to the organization as they expose all the vulnerabilities and security strategies. They help identify and recognize insider threats, vulnerabilities, and help in being ahead of security breaches, cyber threats, and cyberattacks, which affect the organization’s security, reputation, and financial conditions.

The security audit follows a particular pattern/workflow:

1. Defining the assessment criteria

It is essential to determine the objectives which need to be addressed. This gives a clear outlook on the problems which need to be addressed quickly and provides insight into the current situation. Identify the prevailing threats and outline the possible risks caused by the threat and other vulnerabilities. Define the audit procedure and methods and methods to track the audit procedure.

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2. Evaluating current security policies and methods

Reflect on the current security situation and narrow down the security perimeter and the current threats, vulnerabilities, and risks that affect the overall security. Analyze and conclude what is lacking and how to fix it to strengthen the security policies and procedures.

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3. Preparing the security audit

The next step is to prepare the security audit plan. Prioritize the area which needs at most importance to be resolved or upgraded. Organize and select the tools which are required to perform the audit. Imply methodologies to collect and preserve accurate and correct data to proceed with the audit based on the acquired data.

4. Conducting the security audit

Once the required tools are finalized, the audit can be performed. While performing the audit, it is essential to provide the appropriate documents and constantly perform due diligence. Monitor the audit accurately and document it for future use. Use the data collected and previous audit records to understand and check for the various factors that affect the organization’s IT security, resulting in differences and multiple factors.

5. Completion and the final result of the audit

Once the auditing procedure is completed, document it, prepare a list of the actions that need to be taken based on the audit, and resolve the changes to remediate the organization’s security. On completion, share the detailed results with the respective authorities.

Why Is a Security Audit Important and Necessary?

A security audit helps evaluate the security status, and regular audits help recognize new threats and vulnerabilities, which allows the organization to understand its security policies and guidelines. Some organizations make it mandatory to imply security audits, as it complies with legal aspects as well. Security audits are done regularly to identify and resolve security issues.

With the constant development and updating of the applications, new hardware and software are added, creating new security endpoints – potentially leading to new vulnerabilities and threats. It is crucial to perform audits regularly to prevent any risks from happening. A security audit is essential and beneficial to an organization. It helps in:

  • Analyzing the current security practices of the organization and verifying if they are apt or not.
  • Monitoring the training procedure ensuring that the audit is conducted.
  • Vulnerabilities and possible threats are discovered which were caused by new technology, application, or a process.
  • It helps assure that the organization is compliant with the security regulations (HIPPA, SHIELD, CCPA, etc.).
  • Protects the resources of the organization.
  • Identifies security vulnerabilities.
  • Prepares the organization for a potential security breach or cyberattack.
  • Up-to-date about the latest security measures required for the organization.
  • Responsible for framing new security policies based on the auditing results.

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Types of Security Audits

Security audits can be classified under three categories:

1. One-Time-Assessment:

Security audits that are performed for ad-hoc applications or exceptional situations, resulting in a change of the current operational flow. For example, an addition of new software or hardware needs to be tested and audited for potential risks and threats to ensure the security of the resources related to it.

2. Tollgate Assessment:

Security audits resulting in binary outputs are known as tollgate assessments. It’s a yes or no audit that helps in determining if a new process can be incorporated or not. The audit ensures that it can be included if the process is secure; else, it discards, giving no room for risks and threats.

3. Portfolio Assessment:

Security audits which are bi-annual or annual, are known as Portfolio Assessments. They are done at regular intervals depending upon the organization’s security practices. This helps to ensure that the security standards are maintained, and security procedures are being followed and maintained appropriately.

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Tips on Good Security Audit Analysis

Assessing and preparing security audits can be confusing, and sometimes, certain things can be overlooked. It is essential to know what a security audit consists of. Preparing a checklist can help to form a security audit strategy based on crucial factors which should be considered. The following is an essential checklist that you can follow:

  • Record and document the entire audit procedure, including who will be performing the audit and what is being audited.
  • Document the current security policy, which can be used as a reference to understand where the problem was and to compare the before and after statistics.
  • Evaluate the existing security measures that have been taken and if they are being followed to maintain security.
  • Update security patches regularly to avoid risks that can take place due to vulnerabilities and bugs in the older versions.
  • Ensure that there are no gaps in the firewalls, which can lead to potential risk.
  • Ensure that data access is done according to segregation of duties and least privilege and need-to-know principles.
  • Incorporate the best encryption practices to ensure integrity, confidentiality, and authenticity of the data and resources.
  • Verify the wireless security policies and incorporate standard security policies for wireless networks.
  • Scan network and access points/ports at regular intervals to ensure the authenticity of every connection and data transmitted.
  • Record and review the event logs to identify any unauthorized activity.


Saturday, 15 May 2021

What is Steganalysis? How to Successfully Identify Steganography?

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Steganography and Steganalysis are two different sides of the same coin. Therefore, do not confuse both of them to be the same. Steganography is the method of hiding messages in plain sight. Whereas, Steganalysis tries to detect the hidden message and retrieve the embedded data. Being said that, cyber-criminals are extensively using Steganography to hide incriminating material in their possession. Therefore, having an understanding about Steganalysis and learning the art of detecting hidden messages plays a very important role in computer forensics.

In this article, we will discuss Steganalysis, how to identify steganography, and the tools required for Steganalysis.

What Is Steganalysis In Computer Forensics?

Steganalysis in computer forensics is the technology of defeating steganography by identifying the hidden information, extracting it, and destroying it. Being said that, anyone who makes use of Steganalysis for detecting and defeating the hidden information is referred to as a Steganalyst.

The overall purpose of Steganalysis in computer forensics to identify the existence of a hidden message is to identify the tools which were used to hide the message in the first place. If the Steganalyst is able to identify the tool that was used for hiding the message, then the analyst can use the same tool for extracting the original message and subsequently destroying that message. Being said that, some of the most common hiding techniques includes appending to a file, hidden information in the unused header portion of the file, or the algorithm which is used to disperse the hidden message throughout the file.

How to Identify Steganography

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There are a number of different methods of identifying steganography based on the kind of information available with the analyst. The following are some of them.

1. Stego-only attack – In this type of attack, only the stego-object is available for analysis with the Steganalyst.

2. Known cover attack – In this type of attack, both the stego-object and the original medium is available with the Steganalyst. Being said that, the stego-object is compared with the original medium to determine any hidden information.

3. Known message attack – In this type of attack, the hidden message as well as the corresponding stego-image are known to the Steganalyst. The patterns which corresponds to the information being hidden can help in discovering the information in future.

4. Known stego attack – In such attack, both the stenography algorithm as well as the stego-object and original object are known to the Steganalyst.

5. Chosen stego attack – In such attack, both the stenography algorithm as well as the stego-object are known to the Steganalyst.

6. Chosen message attack – In such attack, the Steganalyst generates the stego-object by using a tool or algorithm of the chosen message. The overall goal is to understand the patterns in the stego-object.

Digital Forensic Tools Required For Steganalysis

Stegdetect is one of the most commonly use Steganalysis tool. This digital forensic tool can help in finding the hidden information in the JPEG images by using steganography schemes such as invisible secrets, JPHide, F5, and JSteg. Moreover, the tool also has a graphical interface that is known as Xsteg.

Stego Suite from WetStone Tecnologies is another digital forensic tool that can help with Steganalysis. It the suite consist of three different products such as Stego Watch, Stego Analyst, and Stego Break. All of these three different products can help the Steganalyst in their digital forensic investigation.


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

How Honeypots in Network Security Help Prevent and Defeat Cybercriminals

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Have you ever wondered if there is a way to beat cybercriminals using their style and methods? Many tactics are being developed by cybersecurity experts that help them think like a criminal. One such technique is known as honeypots in network security. This style of cybersecurity lures cybercriminals to a point where they cannot harm. Honeypots are also used to detect malicious software and even distract prospective attackers from the real servers. Honeypots allow you to identify and respond to an attack before malicious hackers can cause any significant damage.

The advantage of using Honeypots is that it allows you to mislead cybercriminals into spending their time manipulating intentional flaws while notifying your internal network security team of their attempts. Some of the information you obtain from these honeypots are more comprehensive than what you get from some intrusion detection systems.

In this article, we’ll examine the importance of honeypots in network security, honeypot methodologies, and how you can learn its use.

Importance of Honeypots in Network Security

Honeypots are just dummy software applications, network nodes, or computers deployed for the sole aim of being hacked. It seems like a poorly protected computer system with vital information and an easy target for cybercriminals. In reality, it is a dummy system detached from the organization’s network and carefully monitored by the security team. Honeypots are just one of the many cyberattack methodologies that network security officers use. The rising usage by hackers has made it an important part of new network security course.

There’s more to honeypots than wasting the time and efforts of a malicious hacker.

Defeat cybercriminals using their own techniques

Honeypots are incredibly versatile in misleading cybercriminals, especially when they find a way to breach the system. Honeypots can cloud and divert an attacker when loaded with traps. The attacker wastes their time trying to locate the real data or network system. Network Security team uses this time to their advantage and thwarts the attack.

Detect cyberattacks and allocate hackers a passive-fingerprint

Honeypots can be used to lure cyber-attackers because they look ‘weak.’ These weak points also serve as warning signs for the network security team. During an attack, the cybersecurity team can identify threats before they affect the entire network system.

You can also use it to allocate a passive fingerprint for each hacker. Honeypots give you better visibility of attacks as they are taking place because it logs a   during a session. It also discloses immediate alerts every time there is an attempted security breach.

Improve your organization’s overall security

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You can improve your organization’s security layer (also known as defense in depth) when implementing honeypots with other tools like anti-malware, SIEM, firewalls, and IDS/IPS. This strategy will fortify all the security tools to prevent attacks. All you need to do is to feed important information on potential attacks.

Expose insider threats

It is hard for security tools to pinpoint malicious actors when attacks are introduced from behind the firewall through authentic account credentials and an organization’s IP address. However, honeypots can rectify these issues. If anyone accesses the counterfeit environment, the action is automatically considered a malicious attempt.

Streamline threats

Most security tools cannot differentiate between high-level and low-level threats. The number of false alarms is just too many. Consequently, the security team finds it difficult to prioritize threat warnings, while others ignore security alerts because of their frequency. Honeypots in network security add the advantage of   any activity with them can be considered unauthorized. A benefit like this is the reason why the technique is so invaluable. In the honeypot method, every alert supplied is taken seriously. Due to this reason, the security personnel is more efficient in their work.

Types of Honeypots to Prevent and Defeat Cybercrime

Honeypots are classified based on the types of threats they are able to detect and their interaction levels.

Types of honeypots based on the purpose 

Honeypots have different purposes. Your purpose will determine the suitability of the honeypot you use. Do you want to divert the efforts of attackers from the real targets? Or do you need insights to respond effectively to active internal security threats?

Types of honeypots based on their interaction levels

Another type of honeypot is those based on interaction levels. Interaction levels refer to the degree of interactivity the attacker has with the systems they are trying to penetrate. These are usually the most complicated honeypot systems to implement. Examples are:

◉ High-Interaction Honeypots: They mimic real-world applications and network systems, including simple functions, services, and operating systems with elevated levels of interactivity.

◉ Low-Interaction Honeypots: These honeypots permit limited interaction with systems as they run restricted emulated services with regulated functionality.

◉ Medium-Interaction Honeypots: These falls between the low and high interaction honeypots. Medium-interaction honeypots have expanded facilities when weighed with the low interaction honeypots. However, they have decreased application difficulties compared to high interaction honeypots.


Sunday, 9 May 2021

Distributed Ledger vs. Blockchain Technology: Do You Know the Difference?

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Blockchain is increasing in popularity because of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Many traditional centralized bodies such as governments and banks are starting to take an interest in blockchain technology.

A new term that is starting to make waves in the cryptocurrency space is the distributed ledger technology. However, many people usually confuse distributed ledger with blockchain and vice versa. In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about distributed ledger vs. blockchain.

What Is a Distributed Ledger?

A distributed ledger is a database that can be found across several locations or among multiple participants. However, most companies still use a centralized database with a fixed location. Unlike a centralized database, a distributed ledger is decentralized, which helps to remove the need for a central authority or intermediary for processing, validating, or authenticating transactions.

Furthermore, these records will only be stored in the ledger after the parties involved have reached a consensus.

What Is Blockchain?

A blockchain is a form of distributed ledger that has a specific technological underpinning. Blockchain creates an unchangeable ledger of records maintained by a decentralized network after a consensus approves all the records.

The significant difference between blockchain and DLT is the cryptographic signing and linking groups of records in the ledger that forms a chain. Furthermore, there is a chance for the public and users to determine how a blockchain is structured and run based on the specific application of blockchain.

What Is the Difference Between Distributed Ledger and Blockchain Technology?

Although both blockchain and distributed ledger sounds similar, there are some differences between the two. Blockchain can be categorized as a type of distributed ledger, but you cannot classify every distributed ledger as a blockchain.

We have listed some of the unique aspects of blockchain and distributed ledgers to help you better understand the distributed ledger vs. blockchain technology comparison.

Block Structure

The first difference between blockchain and distributed ledger technology is the structure. A blockchain usually comprises blocks of data. However, this is not the original data structure of distributed ledgers. This is because a distributed ledger is just a database that is spread across several nodes. But you can represent this data in numerous ways in each ledger.


All the blocks in blockchain technology are in a particular sequence. However, a distributed ledger does not need a specific data sequence.

Proof of Work

In most cases, blockchains usually use the proof of work mechanism. However, there are other mechanisms, but they typically take up power. Distributed ledger, on the other hand, does not need this type of consensus, which makes them more scalable.

Blockchain is just a subset of distributed ledgers, and it has additional functionality aside from the traditional DLTs scope. Proof of work adds a significant difference between distributed ledger vs. blockchain.

Real-Life Implementations

Implementation is an essential point to consider when understanding the differences between distributed ledger vs. blockchain. Blockchain has many implementations in real life as it is more popular, and many usages are developed in due course of time. Since a lot of enterprises are adopting the blockchain nature and are slowly integrating it into their systems, you will also find big giants like Amazon, IBM, etc., that offer good blockchain as a service solution.

In comparison, developers recently started to dive deep into the distributed ledger technology core. Although there are several types of DLTs in the tech world, there are few real-life implementations. However, they are still being developed, and we will start to see the real-life implementations very soon.


Tokens create a major difference between distributed ledger vs. blockchain. There is no need for tokens or any currency in a distributed ledger technology. However, you may need tokens to block and detect spam.

Anyone can run a node in blockchain technology. However, running a full node requires a considerable network that may be difficult to manage. Furthermore, there is usually some token economy, and it takes a fundamental role in blockchain technology. However, modern blockchain technology is looking for a way to leave the cryptocurrency shadow.

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Distributed Ledger and Blockchain Comparison Table

  Distributed Ledger Blockchain 
Block Structure  It is a database spread across different nodes, but the data can be represented differently in each ledger. It contains blocks of data, but the structure is not a genuine data structure of distributed ledgers.
Sequence  It does not require a specific sequence of data.  You will find all blocks in a particular sequence. 
Proof of Work   It is comparatively more scalable as it does not need proof of work.  It is a subset of distributed ledgers, but it has additional functionality beyond the traditional DLT’s scope 
Real-Life Implementations  There are not many real-life implementations  There are loads of real-life implementations.
Tokens  It is not necessary to have tokens or any currency on the network.  There is some sort of token economy. 

Advantages of Using a Distributed Ledger like Blockchain

Using blockchain technology offers a secure and efficient way to create a tamper-proof log of sensitive activity. Blockchain has the potential to give an organization a safe and digital alternative to banking processes.

We can use distributed ledgers like blockchain for financial transactions as they help reduce operational inefficiencies and save money. Since distributed ledgers like blockchains are decentralized in nature and the ledgers are immutable, they offer greater security to the organization.

Distributed Ledger Technology Beyond Blockchain

Although the popularly known distributed ledger technology is blockchain, the distributed ledger technology future will depend on the collaborative effort of the two technologies. According to James Wallis, the Vice President of Blockchain Markets and Engagements for IBM, the uses of DLT will be greater than what we can think of today, but it will require a level of sharing that does exist before.

Furthermore, if DLTs become standard, they can revolutionize the Know Your Customer (KYC). KYC is the process that a business use for identifying and verifying the identity of its clients. It will then help make broader identity management much more straightforward.


Thursday, 6 May 2021

5 Tips To Ensure Network Security Of Internal IT Infrastructure

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Cyberattacks targeted at infrastructure have become more and more multifaceted and disruptive. They disrupt operations, cause systems to shut down, or enable malicious actors to manage compromised systems remotely. The way forward is to allow IT to configure network security properly.

Network security and cybersecurity, in general, are not just a liability for IT companies or organizations with substantial financial risks. 2020 marked a significant increase in cybersecurity attacks on schools and educational institutions. Even though no amount of security will ever be enough to mitigate all types of attacks, you can still substantially reduce your risk if a network security officer is by your side.

What Is IT Infrastructure Security?

If you are reading this blog, we would like to assume that you are either an aspiring cybersecurity professional or a business owner looking for ways to improve their network security. A business IT infrastructure includes networks, software, hardware, equipment, and other facilities that make up an IT network. These networks are applied to establish, monitor, test, manage, deliver, and support IT services.

So, IT infrastructure security describes the process of safeguarding the core networking infrastructure, and it is typically applied to enterprise IT environments. You can improve IT infrastructure security by installing protective solutions to block unauthorized access, theft, deletion, and data modification.

The biggest threat to network security and infrastructure security is from malicious actors attacking and trying to gain access over the routing infrastructure. The essential components of a network infrastructure security include:

◉ Firewalls

◉ Routers

◉ Access control

◉ Network servers

◉ Switches

◉ Local Area Network (LAN)

◉ Application security

◉ Server rooms

◉ Intrusion prevention systems

◉ Wireless security

◉ DSL and cable modems

◉ Physical plants

◉ Load balancers

◉ Remote access service

◉ Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)

◉ Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Steps to Secure the Network Infrastructure

Data breaches are grave threats with damaging impacts. If you run an eCommerce platform, a data breach could affect the security of your consumers’ financial information. Even in the healthcare sector, a data breach could compromise patients’ personal health information (PHI). However, you can prevent a data breach when you improve your network security and IT infrastructure security.

Here are some important tips to improve network security irrespective of the size of your business.

Understand the components of your network infrastructure security

The first step to any network infrastructure security policy is to know your network infrastructure. Even before you implement protective measures, you need to see which software or hardware components comprised your network.

This information will give you important insights into network attack prevention. Make sure you include all your hardware (such as printers or routers), software (such as applications, firewalls, IDS/IPS), and digital security certificates (such as IoT certificates) into all your network security strategies.

Conduct network security audits

A network security audit refers to the practice that allows an organization to assess its network security policies and the series of assets on its network. The aim is to detect possible flaws that might trigger a security breach. A third party often performs this audit. However, large corporations with substantial budgets can run this audit internally through their cybersecurity team.

Some professionals take network security courses and have the complete knowledge to conduct thorough audits. Their expertise will help you understand the weak points in your infrastructure, and it will also save you millions of dollars.

Evaluate your network security tools

You don’t have to choose all the network defense tools available in the market. However, it would help if you had a suite of tools required for risk mitigations and to comply with your industry’s regulatory obligations. Ensure that you have the right tools for mitigating risks and for adequate network defense.

Network security tools are regularly upgraded due to new challenges from cybercriminals. While selecting a tool, make sure that it has received good reviews from users and is recommended by cybersecurity experts. Wise selection and good investment will foolproof your information security infrastructure.

Opt for data loss prevention program

If your organization handles overly sensitive and confidential information like banks, healthcare, the retail industry, and other financial organizations, data protection should be your top priority. A data breach is a frequent occurrence in these industries. There are compliance regulations in these industries that mandate the protection of sensitive data. A breach/compromise of data can result in lawsuits and reputational damage.

Organize network security awareness training

The weakest link in any security architecture is the human link. Employees that do not follow cybersecurity best practices can jeopardize all your network attack prevention strategies. Awareness training teaches your staff members about social engineering, phishing, spoofing and other cyberattack techniques that can cause harm and major damages. Cybersecurity awareness training will also establish a point of hierarchy so that the staff members can easily contact the concerned person in case of a possible attack. The training is important because not everyone has time and resources to go through a network security course.

A network security officer will fix all these issues and ensure the IT infrastructure is safe from any future cyberattacks.

Why organizations should hire a network security officer

Organizations are currently in an era where network security is a must. Over the last decades, threat actors have aggressively managed businesses in healthcare, retail, financial, utilities, and other sectors. Identifying weaknesses and gaining visibility into a series of mobile devices and their parts within the infrastructure helps lessen the risk of an effective cyber-attack.

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Such amplify the importance of hiring certified network defenders. These professionals are trained to keep your network secure and prevent crippling data breaches. The cost of not having a knowledgeable and certified network defender and experiencing a data breach can cost you billions of dollars.

Bring the Power of Certified Network Defender to Your Organization

Cybersecurity is a non-linear process that demands a continuous approach to mitigate cyber risks. EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender v2 provides a wide-ranging approach to successfully tackling security issues in today’s modern network. As a senior management member of your organization, you should make sure that the employees working in network and IT administration know the fundamentals of network security.

CND v2 is a vendor-neutral network security certification program that offers an impartial tactic to learning secure networking practices. You will learn how to evaluate and strengthen computing systems dominant in the current IT infrastructure.


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

What are Host Attacks? How to Avoid Host Attacks Successfully?

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Web servers are configured in a way that allows them to host a number of different web applications and websites on the same IP address. It is the reason why the host header exists. The host header specifies which web application or website is responsible for processing the incoming HTTP request. The web server then makes use of the header value for dispatching the request to the specified web application.

More Info: 312-38: Certified Network Defender (CND)

But what would happen when someone specifies an invalid host header? It can lead to host attacks. In this article, we will discuss host attacks and what are the different host attack vulnerabilities.

What are Host Attacks?

HTTP host attacks look to exploit the vulnerability of websites that handle the host header’s value in an unsafe manner. For instance, if the webserver trusts the host header implicitly and does not validate it properly, the attacker might inject harmful payloads, which will manipulate server-side behavior. Attacks that involve the process of injecting harmful payloads directly inside the host header are referred to as host attacks.

Attackers can also use the header value in several different interactions between various websites’ infrastructure systems. Because the header is controllable, this can lead to a wide range of issues. If the input is not validated accurately, the host header can become a potential vector for exploiting many different vulnerabilities. Some of these vulnerabilities include web cache poisoning and password reset poisoning, among others.

Host Attacks Vulnerabilities

1. Web Cache Poisoning

Web cache is one of the techniques used by cyber attackers looking to manipulate web cache so that they can serve poisoned content to anyone who is requesting the web page.

For this to occur, the cyber attacker will have to poison a caching proxy run by the website itself, content delivery networks, downstream providers, or any other caching mechanism between the server and the client. After this, the cache will serve the poisoned content to anyone who is requesting the web page, with the victim of the attack having no control whatsoever over the infected content that is being served to them.

2. Password Reset Poisoning

One of the most common ways to implement the password reset functionality is to generate a secret token and then send the link through email containing the token. What will happen if the cyber attacker request a password reset with the host header controlled by the attacker?

If the website uses the host header value when composing the reset link, the cyber attacker gets the ability to poison the password reset link sent to the victim. Therefore, when the victim clicks on the poisoned password reset link in the email, the cyber attacker will be able to access the password reset token and then change the victim’s password without any troubles.

How to Mitigate Host Attacks?

The following are the different ways to mitigate the risk of host attacks from taking place at your organization.

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1. Do a proper validation of the request. Make sure if the request came from the original target or not.

2. Ensure that you whitelist all of the trusted domains in the initial phase of the web application.

3. Try to mitigate the host attacks in Nginx and Apache by creating a dummy virtual host that catches all requests from unrecognized host headers.

4. Ensure that your organization is making use of secure server configuration.

Tools to Find Host Header Vulnerability

The following are the two different tools used by SOC Analysts to find the host header vulnerability.

1. Brisk InfoSec’s BHHIT



Sunday, 2 May 2021

What Is Alert Triage? Do You Know How It Is Carried Out?

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With cybercriminals always on the lookout for a vulnerability in an organization’s system, analysts need to be on their toes at all times. Their role is to stop these cybercriminals from getting into the system; otherwise, the entire organization will be ruined.

Security Operations Centers face an overwhelming amount of security alerts every day. It becomes almost impossible to look into all these threats with limited tools and technology. Where most of the threats are false positives, some of them are accurate too. This is why it becomes important to look into every one of them.

What Is Alert Triaging?

The term “triage” was introduced on the battlefields of France. Due to the overwhelming number of patients that required urgent treatment, the top surgeon of the facility categorized patients into three parts and prioritized them according to this list.

1. Those who will live regardless if they are treated right away.

2. Those who will not live regardless of any medical treatment they receive.

3. Those who will probably live if treated right away.

This process was introduced to utilize resources in the maximum amount. The process was then termed “triage.” The process is still used during emergencies. Triage analysis is where threats are prioritized based on the triaging process.

Similarly, in the cyber world, alert triage is a process that allows analysts to prioritize threats and then decide if those threats should be deeply analyzed. The problem is that without following a lengthy triage process, analysts have no way of figuring out which threats can turn into breaches. Sometimes due to this lengthy process, these threats convert into breaches.

What does triage mean in cybersecurity?

Like a medical emergency, cybersecurity becomes an emergency too when it faces several threats. The process of triaging used by analysts is similar to the process given above. In triaging, analysts first determine what threats are serious enough to harm the system and what only seem like threats but are not. After analyzing what threats to look into and what threats to discard, analysts turn to examine the remaining threats.

Read More: EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)

The effectiveness of threat analysis depends on the tools and resources analysts have. If they have good enough tools that support them by thoroughly investigating threats and sending them high alert to look into them immediately, their job will not be that hectic. But most of the time, software and tools fail to do a good job, which leaves analysts alone with a long process of looking into every threat.

Analysis of SIEM Incident Detection in Security Operations Center

When the system shows a threat, it does not reveal much information about it. General software shows very little data that can hardly be used to prevent breaches. For example, if an employee’s credentials have been stolen are being used to access files and other data, the software will only flag it as a suspicious activity instead of showing you the details of the threat. Security information and event management (SIEM) analyze and correlate every available business information and network activity to detect incidents in real-time.

Understanding SIEM Deployment

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◉ Log correlation: A single login can not show suspicious activity but analyzing the pattern of failed and successful login attempts can flag the activity as a threat.

◉ Threat intelligence: SOC SIEM tools help early threat detection by identifying incidents in advance. Security Operations Center SIEM tools give the most reliable and latest threat information.

◉ Anomalous user behavior analytics: To prevent breaches, it is important to analyze user activity. It involves analyzing their login and log-out times, user privileges, and accessible data.

Handling Alert Triaging and Analysis

◉ Identify: The first step is to analyze if a threat is malicious or not. It requires network security monitoring and deeper investigation. Before taking action, figure out how did it enter the system? What harm has it caused? Where is it? Have you detected all of it?

◉ Contextualize: Prioritize the alert based on its solution and discovery, if there is external intelligence available for it, what information you have of threat, and what damages it has caused till now?

◉ Contain: Analyse what risks this threat possesses. According to the threat level, you can plan a response with proper SOC SIEM tools.