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Network Detection and Response: An Essential Part of IT Security

Read Time: 6 minutes

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM) are two vital tools in a comprehensive network security posture. Network detection and response (NDR) too has become a key element here, by creating a more comprehensive threat analysis of the entire network and its endpoints. 

NDR evolved from network traffic analysis (NTA), which was renamed by Gartner in 2020 because of its added behavioral analysis and ability to respond to threats. NDR technology and SIEM go beyond EDR by using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and behavioral analytics to identify and respond to threats that may have evaded traditional security measures. 

The realities of hybrid and remote work and the transition to the cloud are among the top reasons for a projected 11.3% increase in worldwide spending on security and risk management in 2023. In short, network detection and response solutions have become a key method for battling sophisticated cyberthreats in a highly distributed world.

Why is an NDR Solution Important?

Malware attacks, including ransomware attacks, have reached staggering heights in recent years. Ransomware attacks affected 71% of businesses globally in 2022. Exploited vulnerabilities are often the result of visibility limitations in the signature-based detection methods of legacy antivirus software. NDR’s ability to provide deeper network visibility enables security analysts to pinpoint affected assets and define their anomalous behavior, which provides insights into attacker tactics and procedures. This enables security personnel to create a remediation plan to thwart the attack, assess damage, and implement a recovery process.

NDR solutions provide proactive threat-detection capabilities, enabling organizations to stay one step ahead of malicious actors by providing fast and efficient incident response through real-time visibility into network activity. Security teams can then rapidly identify and respond to potential threats, reducing dwell time and mitigating the potential damage caused by an attack.

Compliance and data protection are also top considerations in light of GDPR, HIPAA, and other regulatory requirements. NDR solutions help organizations meet these obligations by providing comprehensive network monitoring, threat detection, and incident response capabilities.

NDR also helps security teams leverage frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK to detect hidden tactics that SIEM and EDR products may not see, supporting enhanced security hygiene for detecting suspicious activity, poor encryption practices, and third-party vendor vulnerabilities. A comprehensive security posture like this hardens the network against internal and external threat vectors.

Insider threat detection is greatly enhanced in ways that detect and reveal shadow IT and unsanctioned applications so IT teams can secure them. This can be further enhanced by using comprehensive application discovery and dependency mapping (ADDM) tools. 

How Does Network Detection and Response Work?

As discussed above, NDR has become a primary approach to proactive threat detection, analysis, and remediation. However, to harness the full potential of NDR as part of a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) tools, security CISOs, analysts, and directors must have an in-depth understanding of how network detection and response works. 

Network Traffic Analysis and Threat Detection

NDR solutions provide real-time monitoring and analysis of network traffic rather than scanning for specific types of threats. This approach reveals all suspicious activity within or outside of the network, including recognized or unknown threats. The mechanism is simple: NDR tools take in unfiltered network activity data and metadata through sensors and agents embedded in the network via data pathways, including network infrastructure like firewalls and routers. The AI/ML algorithms can then use behavioral analytics to create a reference of what normal traffic looks like. Next, these same AI/ML and analytics detect deviations from normal network activity in real time.

Incident Response and Threat Intelligence Integration

By monitoring both north-south and east-west network traffic, NDR can detect threats at network exit and entry, as well as internally. Security experts and the security operations center (SOC) use this information to create threat models from all sources, separating possible threats from framework noise.

Other components, such as incident response automation tools within NDR solutions, can provide directed alerts. In addition, they are able to deliver automatic action via integration with other security tools and provide contextual data for ongoing threat investigations. Integration capabilities include other security tools like intrusion detection systems (IDS) and SIEM platforms, along with existing firewalls and endpoint protection solutions.

NDR, ADDM, and Network Segmentation

There are additional standards and specialized tools that security experts rely on for a comprehensive network security posture. Notable tools include identity access management (IAM) solutions, such as zero-trust architecture (ZTA), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR).

Two additional tools that support network security generally—and NDR specifically—are ADDM (mentioned previously) and network segmentation. 

All of the security tools and approaches covered in this article play both specific and integrated roles in comprehensive network security. Network segmentation and ADDM deserve special mention for the ability to support security solutions like EDR, NDR, and SIEM as well as approaches like ZTA and SOAR in ways that enhance enterprise security frameworks.

ADDM facilitates NDR solutions by providing end users with a comprehensive understanding of the network environment, the relationships between different applications and systems, and the flow of data within the network. ADDM also helps NDR analyze network traffic more effectively by providing an ongoing and comprehensive understanding of the dependencies between applications and systems. This analysis includes the identification of normal traffic pattern aspects, like volume, direction, and communication protocols, used to support anomaly detection, threat detection, response, and investigations.

Network segmentation, on the other hand, divides the network into zones defined by specific security requirements. This limits cybercriminal attackers to a single zone without using extraordinary measures. The nuanced and broad possibilities of how NDR, ADDM, and segmentation work together—and with other network and enterprise security solutions—can create a strong foundation for enterprise cybersecurity architectures.

Choosing a Network Detection and Response Solution

Discovery time for a breach can be weeks to months, depending on the nature of the breach. An organization’s use of comprehensive cybersecurity frameworks like NIST and detection analysis and response tools plays a big part in that timeframe. Although there are many qualities to look for in a network detection and response solution, below are some of the most important. 

Comprehensive Visibility and Scalability

Network visibility is of little use in threat detection without context: a complete view into all enterprise devices, entities, and network traffic, which includes cloud and edge. One of the most important considerations when choosing an NDR solution is scalability to adapt to the growing complexity of a distributed network that encompasses hybrid cloud and workforce needs. The ability to analyze network traffic in real time without causing performance degradation is also paramount. Advanced analytics and integration capabilities too along with a user-friendly interface that enables a single point of contact while reducing the learning curve for security personnel are key points as well.

Visibility must enable security personnel to see all network users, devices, and interactions along with point of access, data sharing, and time stamps across even multi-cloud environments. This enables security teams to determine the source, other points of propagation, and specific compromised users as part of threat detection. 

Behavioral Detection Techniques

To develop a baseline of network activity and quickly identify—and issue alerts for—anomalous behavior in real time, AI and ML behavior modeling are indispensable. Non-signature-based detection techniques simply cannot react in time. Alerts should be automated, directed, and prioritized by severity to improve threat hunting and incident response. Considering most network traffic is encrypted, it is important that the right NDR solution be capable of completing analysis without data decryption.

UX Factors

Comprehensive threat intelligence and analysis require an NDR solution that can leverage global threat intelligence. The right solution should combine managed detection and response, information collection, anomalous behavior analysis, investigation, and confirmation. Most important is the ability to deliver automated and guided security team response operations based on predefined playbooks. This all becomes part of a SOAR methodology that is driven by prevention and detection control technologies.

On the practical side, NDR behavioral detection solutions should be fast and easy to deploy—and capable of ingesting and analyzing all data by parsing the entire packet rather than just NetFlow or IDS alerts. It should have clear protocols for sourcing and retention of threat hunters and analysts if a managed solution. ML should have clear algorithm processes that adapt to changing network conditions. These algorithms should also continually update via updating rule sets that eliminate false positives by providing detailed analysis to the operator.

Having a historical record of network activity is critical in an NDR solution in order to capture full packets for predetermined time frames before and after each detected network event. Including an abstracted network logging tool, like NetFlow or HTTP event logging, makes investigations easier.

Harness the Power of ADM with Faddom

Today’s security experts must grapple with how to choose, apply, and integrate from a long list of security tools with an alphabet soup of acronyms. EDR protects endpoints, and its evolutionary successor XDR integrates network, application, and cloud data sources.

The much more comprehensive AI/ML and behavioral analytics of NDR focus on packet data traffic, bringing single-platform, real-time threat detection capabilities, rapid incident response, and comprehensive network traffic analysis to network security in hybrid-cloud scenarios. SOAR solutions can further enable the use of comprehensive analytics and end-to-end automation and integrations. Larger enterprises can maximize their security posture with a combination of EDR, XDR, SIEM, and SOAR systems—with NDR serving as the holistic connection point for more rapid threat detection and response.

Regardless of organizational size and network complexity; visibility, real-time proactive detection, and rapid response are foundational to a constantly changing and complex threat landscape. Network detection and response is revolutionizing the way organizations approach cybersecurity integration with other threat detection solutions and approaches.

Faddom’s fast and agentless IT infrastructure, network, and application mapping software delivers a complete view of the entire on-premises and cloud IT environment in an hour or less. Users can assess costs, uncover hybrid ecosystems, model workload migrations, and more—without the need for credentials, firewalls, or agents. Its easy deployment, high scalability, and seamless integration with e-tools and products increases the effectiveness of today’s NDR solutions. 

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