Deception technology is a part of cyber defense system tactics used to detect, analyze, and defend your network, often in real time, from zero-day attacks and other advanced attacks.
It provides information about the malicious activity of a cyber-criminal who has infiltrated the network before causing any serious damage.
It works by generating decoys to trap the cyber-criminal. These decoys imitate legitimate technology in the infrastructure in order to deceive the hacker into believing it as the real one. These decoys are made to run in a virtual or real operating system.
The cyber criminals believe they have hacked into the network and can abuse privileges and steal credentials. A centralized deception server is alerted of an attack via notifications and records the intruder’s activity.
There are numerous benefits associated with deception technology.
Some are detailed below:
Deception technology will provide the best results only if the attacker is unaware of the deception. The attackers must not suspect that they are being misled, or else they will escape traps and scale up their efforts in infiltrating the network with advanced methods.
Due to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) inbuilt into the security solutions, they are able to create dynamic deception techniques to evade the attackers. These further help in reduction of operational overheads and free the security teams from having to constantly create dynamic deception environments for the attackers.
Deception techniques have been modeled after the traditional honeypot security systems which were used to lure attackers away from the legitimate assets. The movements inside the decoy systems were used to gather intelligence about the adversaries’ identity, methods, and motivation.
The main difference lies in the fact that now the systems are more automated which requires minimal set-up which further results in reduced maintenance costs. Deception technology has sensors distributed across various endpoints, network, application, and data which mimic the enterprise applications.
Due to automation, the operational capabilities have increased to deceive the attackers which also helps in buying security experts much needed valuable time to devise effective solutions. Once the intrusion is detected, the security professionals are able to deflect and isolate the attackers’ access and waste their time and resources.
Once the intruder is locked away in the decoy network, the cyber security professionals have enough time to understand the intentions of the attacker and prepare counter strategies to effectively thwart their efforts.
Some major benefits of deception technology are as listed below:
The idea is to turn the tables on the attacker by keeping them embroiled in a decoy network with false data and applications. This type of defense is in one sense a form of prevention, as it protects the legitimate assets from being tampered with.
It makes the process so laborious and unappealing that the attackers cannot steal the data let alone find it.
It is important to set up decoys at the entry points which helps protect the attack surface. In this way the front-line of the network is secured. Even if the attack surface is breached, the intruders will face hurdles at every point in the network.
As a defensive strategy, deception technology provides valuable insights into the attackers and unparalleled detection capabilities. The icing on the cake is that it spots only genuine malicious attacks.
This means a drop in the number of false positives and reduction in alert fatigue, often faced by security teams as a result of receiving high volumes of traffic inundated with false positives during testing and vulnerability scans or assessments.
The various tools used for cyber deception are:
Ideally you must choose a provider who can customize solutions and optimize them based on your needs.
Some factors you must consider are:
Cyber deception from an experienced provider will be effective as long as it is implemented well. Since cyber threats come unannounced, it pays to be prepared all the time.
A technology comes with a number of components but here we focus only on the three most important ones: visibility, realism, and fingerprinting - the deception trifecta.
Although an ideal scenario is when the cyber deception technology exhibits all three components in total, in reality it might be difficult to achieve. Simply for the reason that there could be internal limitations or sometimes it just may not be the right strategy. A trade-off is made in such cases to achieve optimum benefit.
Deception technology will be successful only if it remains new and indistinguishable to the attacker. The idea behind deception is to lead the attackers to believe that they are not being tracked. If the attackers are alerted then they will scale up their efforts and evade traps. Machine learning and artificial intelligence at the core of the deceptive solutions keeps the deception dynamic thereby not only reducing operational costs but also freeing up the security teams from having to constantly create new deception strategies.
Honeypots were initially designed to lure attackers into areas that they were not originally interested in. But now they have become wary of that fact and are not falling for that trap anymore. Deception, on the other hand, remains as inconspicuous as possible. Deception technology is not to be viewed as a one-time investment but an ongoing solution as the attacks are evolving at a fast pace giving rise to new vulnerabilities.
CISOs are under tremendous pressure to secure their organization’s network and systems. Traditional security systems such as firewall and antivirus software have no standing against the sophisticated attacks by the hackers. Cyber deception helps by fooling the hacker into thinking they have breached the network whereas they have accessed a simulated environment. This is then monitored by the CISOs and gives them time to identify and deflect or respond to the attack. CISOs are also able to gather cyber intelligence from this form of deception and study the tactics, techniques, and procedures adopted by the attackers. CISOs need to study the needs of their organization and opt for vendors who provide the best possible defense be it on-premise or cloud-based solutions against the attacks.
It is impossible to monitor all incoming traffic for threats. Thus, only public facing assets are set up for deception to monitor incoming traffic and identify who is targeting you.
Decoys are planted across the network that is usually not accessed by legitimate users, but may be perused by attackers.
This ensures that the decoys are planted in the endpoints which are then monitored for suspicious behavior.
Ask these questions about deception technology. Is the deception credible or believable? Are you able to gather sufficient intel about the attackers? Can you gather this intel without showing yourself? The answers to the above questions will determine credibility, instrumentation, and data exfiltration which are necessary for an effective deception technology.
Deception technology nullifies the threats or breaches thus enabling teams to detect, analyze, and respond to malicious activity effectively.
Deception techniques work independently as well with traditional security measures such as honeypots. It not only lures attackers away but also create confusion in their minds thereby slowing the attacks.
The attackers end up wasting precious time and resources on the decoy server. Furthermore, it gives a chance to the cyber security professionals to study attacker behavior, tactics and techniques for the purpose of strengthening the network systems.
The cyber security professionals ironically use the same deception techniques the hackers use to infiltrate the network.
Deception technology works best on all scenarios be it protecting your network from outside threats or from rogue employees or just to gather threat intelligence.