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How Elastic is using big data to enhance security

Written by Stanislav Ivanov


Cyber security is a visibility issue. You can’t secure what you can’t see, so finding ways to see wider and deeper is emerging as a vital defence strategy to both detect and respond to bad actors. But sprawling enterprise IT environments – which increasingly span multiple public clouds, as well as on-premises infrastructure – are frequently beyond human scale, or at least too large for any security team to monitor directly, and cyber criminals know how to take advantage of this to compromise systems. Ironically, this malicious activity doesn’t always go undetected – it passes under the nose of security teams who aren’t able to put together a full picture of what’s going on amid a torrent of false positives and an incomplete view of their environment.

The solution is simple: businesses need cyber security solutions which pull data from across their environment to establish a complete, context-rich view of what’s going on. Such solutions allow security teams to quickly detect events that genuinely require their attention and see the full picture so they can make the right decision to keep their business safe, in an instant.

Stretching your security with Elastic

When it comes to achieving this context-rich view, and enabling fast, accurate decision making, few tools are more valuable than Elastic Security. It’s born out of the Elastic stack that’s already in use by many enterprises – whether that’s for search, monitoring, or managing cloud environments. Its origins might create the impression that its only security use case is passive log file monitoring – but it’s a fully-fledged, active Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solution that’s capable of so much more.

Elastic Security harnesses the power of data to bolster security – bringing critical visibility through its SIEM functionality and helping security teams actively eliminate threats

Elastic SIEM identifies potential security alerts from across your environment and gathers them into a single pane of glass. These alerts are defined by rules – which can come from either the preset bundle that’s included with the solution, or be defined by security teams to account for the nuances specific to your environment. 

Elastic’s heritage as a search tool powers this SIEM to new heights. Thousands of APIs already exist to connect Elastic to any and all parts of your environment, which means that its SIEM functionality can pull data and insights from anywhere, including archive data, without needing to mount the solution onto an archive.

This also allows Elastic to pull information from other tools in your security estate – from high-end, targeted solutions to more generic tools like Microsoft Defender, bringing all your security protections – and the information they generate – into a single management console.

With total visibility established, Elastic gives businesses the ability to act on the insights it generates right in the flow of their work – working in tandem with rules established for SIEM to become a dedicated threat-hunting tool that’s tailored to the way your environment works.

This brings an unprecedented level of intelligence to security operations – for example, if a malicious program is detected in the environment, teams can not only easily detect it, but eliminate it from the environment, establish rules to automate responding to it should it enter the environment again, and also search through the environment and archived data to track down the program’s origin, and any impact it might have had.

What’s it good for?

Elastic’s ability to ingest huge volumes of data, derive insights, and act on them makes it an incredibly powerful solution for security teams, covering gaps in security that can often go overlooked. Built in the cloud, it offers a speed and scale to tackle these key security challenges across modern distributed enterprise environments.

Here are a few examples:

Preventing malicious code execution – Elastic’s XDR capabilities allow it to identify malicious code based on behaviours, rather than signatures. Elastic flags potential malicious code to security teams so they can make the decisions as to how to respond to it and eliminate the threat it represents. To take an example, Elastic’s behaviour-based approach can allow it to identify if a user has opened an Excel spreadsheet which has malicious macros embedded within it and allow security teams to quarantine the host before the situation develops further. 

Working with other tools to identify breach patterns – As mentioned earlier, one of Elastic’s key features is its ability to integrate with existing security tools and ingest data from anywhere. Being a widely utilised enterprise search tool, an API exists for nearly any part of an environment. But this capability doesn’t just elevate the potential of Elastic, however. By pairing existing tools and solutions with powerful SIEM and endpoint security, Elastic takes basic tools to a whole new level. To build on the previous example, Elastic can identify the IP address that the malicious document was trying to connect to, and feed that information into a firewall solution to prevent similar attacks. Similarly, tools like Microsoft Defender can integrate with Elastic’s SIEM to become a security team’s eyes and ears across all user devices, helping them identify patterns across their environment.

Identifying and responding to brute force attacks – They may not be particularly sophisticated, but brute force attacks are an all-too-common strategy adopted by cybercriminals. Elastic helps teams check across your network to find incursion points that bad actors are trying to access, and act accordingly – whether that means locking them out, quarantining that part of the network, or simply noting the attempted attack and moving on.

Closing the cybersecurity skills gap – It’s no secret that many businesses struggle to find and retain the cybersecurity talent they need to ensure they stay protected, but with Elastic in place and collating data from across the environment, organisations can streamline their security, cut down on wasted effort, and accomplish a more advanced security posture with the resource they already have, rather than needing to constantly hunt for new talent.

What’s next?

We’ve drilled down on Elastic Security in particular for this blog, but the Elastic stack is well suited to a huge range of different use cases – from search to monitoring to cloud management. It’s already commonplace in many enterprise environments – which makes Elastic Security all the more valuable, as it can carry insights and information across these different uses, as well as integrating with third-party tools.

What’s more, Elastic Security is included in most subscriptions to the stack – meaning all organisations need to do to start using it is simply set it up as part of their security suite. If you’re looking for a helping hand in setting up Elastic Security, or just want to know more about the stack in general, get in touch with us today.

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