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Using UEBA to Secure Your Cloud

5 Min. Read

User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) is a type of security solution that leverages advanced analytics technology such as machine learning and deep learning, to detect unusual and risky behavior by users, machines, and other entities on a company’s network. It is often used alongside Security Information Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR) solutions like Microsoft Sentinel.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of using UEBA to secure your cloud and look at the best practices for using UEBA to enhance cloud security.

What Is UEBA?

User and Entity Behavior Analytics, known as UEBA, is a cybersecurity process that leverages machine learning and advanced analytics to detect abnormal behavior or instances within your IT system. This is achieved by comprehensively studying the typical behavior of users and other entities like devices, applications, and networks connected to your system.

UEBA operates on the principle that cyber threats and potential system compromises can be detected early by identifying behavioral anomalies. When a user or an entity behaves in a way that deviates from their regular pattern, UEBA flags it as a potential threat. This allows IT professionals to take immediate action, thereby preventing a possible security breach.

What is UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics)?
What is UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics)?

UEBA can detect security incidents that traditional tools may miss because they do not conform to predefined correlation rules or attack patterns and may involve multiple organizational systems and data sources.

The need for UEBA has been amplified by the increasing adoption of cloud services. A cloud environment, while offering numerous benefits, also presents unique security challenges. UEBA adds an extra layer of security, making it a valuable ally in your cloud security strategy.

How UEBA Differs from Traditional Security Approaches

Traditional security approaches often rely on predefined rules and signatures to detect security threats. While these methods have their merits, they are often reactive, meaning they respond to threats after they have occurred. Moreover, these approaches may struggle to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated and ever-changing nature of cyber threats.

On the other hand, UEBA is a proactive approach. By continuously monitoring user and entity behavior, it can identify unusual activities and potential threats in real-time. This enables organizations to take swift action and reduce the risk of a successful breach.

How UEBA Differs from Traditional Security Approaches
How UEBA Differs from Traditional Security Approaches

Another key differentiator is UEBA’s ability to adapt. The machine learning algorithms underpinning UEBA can learn from each interaction, progressively improving their ability to detect anomalies. This adaptability makes UEBA a powerful tool for securing your cloud in an ever-changing digital landscape.

UEBA Features for Cloud Security

Here are a few capabilities of UEBA that can make a difference when securing your cloud environment.

User and Entity Behavior Analytics Engine
User and Entity Behavior Analytics Engine

Anomaly Detection

One of the core features of UEBA is anomaly detection. This involves identifying behaviors or activities that deviate from the normal pattern. In the context of cloud security, this could range from an unusual login attempt to unexpected data transfers.

Anomaly detection is especially crucial in identifying zero-day threats – attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability. Since these threats do not have a known signature, they often go undetected by traditional security measures. UEBA, with its focus on behavior rather than signatures, is well-equipped to uncover these threats.

Behavioral Profiling

Behavioral profiling is another significant feature of UEBA. By creating a baseline of normal behavior for users and entities, UEBA can effectively highlight any deviations from this baseline.

For instance, if a user who typically logs in during standard office hours suddenly attempts to access the system in the middle of the night, UEBA would flag this as abnormal behavior. Similarly, if an application typically consumes a certain amount of bandwidth and suddenly starts consuming significantly more, UEBA would recognize this as a potential threat.

Insider Threat Detection

UEBA is also instrumental in detecting insider threats. These threats can be particularly hard to identify as they involve users who have legitimate access to your system. However, with UEBA, any unusual activity by these users can be quickly detected and mitigated.

For instance, if an employee starts downloading large amounts of sensitive data without any apparent business need, UEBA would flag this behavior as a potential insider threat. This allows organizations to take immediate action, thus minimizing the potential damage.

Threat Hunting

Finally, UEBA aids in threat hunting – a proactive process of searching for threats that may have evaded your existing security measures. By analyzing historical data and identifying patterns, UEBA can uncover hidden threats and potential vulnerabilities, thus strengthening your cloud security.

Related: Supercharge Threat Analysis with Microsoft Sentinel Enrichment Widgets.

Best Practices for Using UEBA to Enhance Cloud Security

Enhancing cloud security through User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) requires strategic implementation of key practices. From leveraging advanced analytics to proactively detecting anomalies, establishing baseline behaviors, and integrating UEBA into broader security strategies, these practices fortify defenses against evolving threats in cloud environments. Mastering UEBA best practices empowers organizations to safeguard their digital assets effectively while staying ahead of potential risks.

Best Practices for Using UEBA to Enhance Cloud Security
Best Practices for Using UEBA to Enhance Cloud Security

Gather Data from Across the Cloud Environment

The first step towards using UEBA effectively to enhance cloud security is to gather data from all available sources in your cloud environment. This data is the backbone of UEBA, providing the necessary inputs for a comprehensive behavioral analysis.

The type of data you should gather includes user activity logs, application logs, network traffic data, and threat intelligence feeds. This data, when combined, provides a holistic view of your cloud environment, enabling the UEBA system to identify normal and abnormal behaviors accurately.

Gathering data from all available sources ensures that your UEBA system can identify and react to threats at the earliest possible opportunity. For example, if a user’s account begins to exhibit suspicious activity, such as trying to access files they don’t usually interact with, the UEBA system can flag this as abnormal behavior and alert the security team.

Integrate UEBA with Other Security Tools

UEBA is a powerful tool in the fight against cyber threats, but it’s not the only tool at your disposal. Integrating UEBA with your other security tools can create a unified security approach that is more effective than using each tool in isolation.

Integrating UEBA with your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR) system, for example, can help streamline the process of identifying and responding to threats. SIEM systems collect and analyze security data from across your network, while UEBA focuses on user and entity behavior. By integrating these two systems, you can correlate security data with user behavior data, making it easier to identify threats and respond quickly.

Integrate UEBA with Other Security Tools
Integrate UEBA with Other Security Tools

Integrating UEBA with your other security tools also makes it easier to manage your security operations. Instead of having to juggle multiple tools, each with its own interface and data sets, you can manage your security operations from a single, unified platform. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of mistakes being made due to the complexity of using multiple tools.

Implement a Risk Scoring System to Prioritize Threats

A risk scoring system assigning a risk score to each threat identified by your UEBA system, based on factors such as the severity of the threat and its potential impact on your business.

Implementing a risk-scoring system enables your security team to prioritize their response efforts. Instead of trying to respond to all threats simultaneously, they can focus their efforts on the threats that pose the greatest risk to your business.

A risk-scoring system also helps to ensure that your security resources are used effectively. By focusing on the most severe threats first, you can minimize the potential damage to your business and ensure that your security team is not overwhelmed with alerts that turn out to be false positives.

In Conclusion

Harnessing the power of User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) fortifies your cloud security strategy by offering a proactive and dynamic approach to threat detection. By continuously monitoring and analyzing user and entity behaviors, UEBA provides invaluable insights into potential risks and anomalous activities, enabling swift and targeted responses.

Using UEBA to secure your cloud involves gathering data from all available sources, developing precise user and entity behavior profiles, integrating UEBA with your other security tools, and implementing a risk-scoring system. By following these best practices, you can enhance your cloud security and protect your business from the ever-evolving threats of the digital age.

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-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect with 20+ years of IT experience. As a Swiss Certified ICT Security Expert, CCSP, CISM, MVP, and MCT, he excels in optimizing mission-critical enterprise systems. His extensive practical knowledge spans complex system design, network architecture, business continuity, and cloud security, establishing him as an authoritative and trustworthy expert in the field. Charbel frequently writes about Cloud, Cybersecurity, and IT Certifications.
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