Many enterprises are now using security solutions that leverage User Behavior Analytics (UBA) to combat modern security threats. Companies are now setting a definition of normal behavior, which when users deviate from, IT administrators are alerted allowing the company to follow the pre-set protocol for dealing with security threats.
With security threats becoming more and more sophisticated, companies and enterprises are moving away from traditionally security measures which were based on protocol analysis and virus signatures. Instead, companies are not implementing security solutions that analyze user behavior. So rather than focusing only on malware, viruses or stopping hackers, UBA focuses on actions and behavior performed by users and how far they diverge from “normal” behavior. There are several reasons why companies are choosing to implement UBAs, especially as more and more enterprises migrate their infrastructure to the cloud.
Essentially, UBAs rely on ‘anomaly detection’ – being able to sift through huge amounts of data and identify actions that do not conform to what is statistically expected of the user. In terms of security, an ‘anomaly’ may refer to network intrusions by an impostor, transmission of sensitive data across irregular channels, and an unjustifiable escalation of network privileges, to name a few. User Behavior Analytics do not only look for abundance (for example several failed login attempts), but instead look at a difference in patterns: a change in click speed or geometric patterns of the mouse movement, a change in typing speed etc. Monitoring these patterns of behavior allows for the security team to be alerted if there is a different patterns which can suggest an impostor and/or a threat.
Choosing to implement UBAs is usually made for one of two reasons:
- Reactive Investigation: something has happened or there is suspicion that something bad is about to happen, so the enterprise has cause to investigate a person or group.
- Proactive Strategy: The company or enterprise wants to improve employee productivity and/or its internal security against insider threats.
It is much easier to implement UBAs as a Reactive Investigation, as something has happened that has triggered an investigation. The latter, a Proactive Strategy, runs the risk of being slightly more complex as without a “probable cause” management may be less comfortable with collecting user activity data. For whatever reason your company is considering implementing User Behavior Analytic, the first and foremost thing to do is to define your goals. Moving forwards your may want to consider involving your employees, decide what to monitor and what data to retain and finally how to deal with an escalation and review.
Having effective UBA in place means user behavior and legitimate process can be tracked, so if and when there is a security breach or threat, it can be detected early on, not once it is too late. If your network has private and confidential information that you wouldn’t like to get out, then implementing UBA can at the least ensure rapid detection and a fast response to the threat.
UBAs are also used to track employee productivity. Businesses and individuals alike are using this kind of software to help analyze paths to work completion. Using UBAs allows managers to see how their assistants or executives work throughout the day, which projects they are spending the most amount of time on and when they become the most distracted. Introducing UBAs to your company to improve employee productivity can provide an insight into what employees are spending the most amount of time on and whether that is relative to their role and the company’s ROI.
For example, if your Graphic Designer is spending more time on Excel spreadsheets than on InDesign or Photoshop, then chances are their skills are not being adequately used and more importantly they may be unhappy in their role. After all, hiring a Graphic Designer to spend all day on spreadsheets is not going to fulfill them. This can lead to even more procrastination and a further loss in your company’s ROI. With data to back up where employees are spending the most amount of time, work can be distributed or managed differently to ensure employees are using their time effectively.