Observability

Analytics as a Security Tool

Nov 04, 20217 min read

Written by Frank Garland (Technical Researcher)

Become an expert in edge computing

Website security, like many of the core pieces of a successful digital enterprise, is most noticeable when it isn’t working. When security systems are doing their job, it almost feels like we’re living in a blissful utopia where hackers and malicious bots just don’t exist, and we can wholly devote ourselves to perfecting our ability to serve our customers. But when your security stops being up to par, and the private data of your enterprise and clients suddenly becomes vulnerable... That's when you remember how crucial a top-of-the-line security system is. And by then, of course, the damage has already been done.

Security analytics is one aspect of securing your network that is far too often undervalued. With it, you can leverage data analytics tools to render your security system more internally transparent, and by doing so, attain data-driven insights to anticipate and respond fluidly to both standard and novel cyber attacks. In this post, we’ll dive into the nature of security analytics, what it entails, and how it can optimize your business’ security.

The Gate Problem

One of the core problems of digital security is how to build successful gates. Just like a medieval castle, the purpose of these gates is to let in the people that you want (modern customers/medieval villagers) while keeping out those who could do real damage (hackers/pillaging vikings). This is why security systems must constantly evolve and change. No matter how solid your gate is, if it can’t tell who’s a viking and who’s a villager, it’s bound to accidentally let some vikings in and keep some villagers out. And then those “villagers” are going to go to your competitors’ “castles” because they have better gates.

Smart Security

This means that your defenses can’t just be stronger, they have to be smarter too. The strength of your defenses against attacks is only as useful as your ability to detect those attacks in the first place. This is where security analytics comes in. Your security system gets smarter the same way everything else does: By gaining more knowledge, or, in this case, data. By applying security analytics principles to your data analytics tools, you can connect them directly to your security tools, tapping your security into a vast repository of aggregated data on attack patterns and forms.

This not only makes the system more adept at anticipating and distinguishing existing threats, but the greater variety of attack data that the analytics tools provide, the more the system can strip attacks down to sub-level component parts and analyze each in isolation. This gives you a huge leg up in combating novel zero-day attacks—so-called because they’ve never been encountered before, so your system has zero days to prepare a defense. But with security analytics, your system develops a bank of knowledge that it can call upon to assess the new threat, make granular comparisons to past attacks, and assemble a series of immediate best-guess responses in real-time. That’s how you build a smart security system.

Analytics Through Azion

Here at Azion, we pride ourselves on our efforts to bring security analytics to the next level, paying close attention to your security needs so that we can continue to provide cutting-edge services and applications. Our data analytics package is a suite of tools designed to streamline your data processing and give your firewalls and security tools the insights they need to build a sophisticated filtration system against all manner of modern threats. Below, you’ll find an introduction to some of our most exciting new security and data analytics tools, what they do, and how they can be wielded in concert to enhance your existing security and begin the process of building a smart digital defense system.

WAF

Azion’s Web Application Firewall is a state of the art WAF solution designed to deliver security at the network edge, ensuring that all applications remain maximally performant. While standard firewalls depend on negative signature-based security strategies that are vulnerable to zero-day attacks, Azion WAF uses a sophisticated scoring based system to assemble immediate defenses against even the most unpredictably novel attacks. Easily customized to fit a variety of compliance requirements, Azion WAF is a powerful and flexible tool, using allowlisting and a positive security approach to better support zero-trust security implementation. It’s built to protect against the full OWASP top ten threat list, and is easily synced to our package of analytics tools detailed below.

Real-Time Metrics

Real-Time Metrics uses customizable metrics to evaluate the data generated by your platform and applications. We’ve built Real-Time Metrics to be fully integratable with third-party applications, offering high-level system-wide transparency. Real-Time Metrics loops you into a centralized data hub that grows and updates in real time as new data is delivered. Because of its ability to track the respective performances of applications, Real-Time Metrics can deliver crucial insights into your network traffic patterns, offering a clear-headed path to mapping day-by-day blocked threats, opening up the inner workings of your security with a kind of digital x-ray vision. Since the data Real-Time Metrics processes can be filtered through dozens of specialized metrics, it offers a myriad of ways to identify system-wide issues and make future-facing strategic plans. It’s a powerful generalist tool, similar to a high-powered telescope, offering an honest, data-driven view of your digital infrastructure on a wide-scope, macro scale. For more fine detail work, you’re going to want to look to our next tool: Real-Time Events.

Real-Time Events

Real-Time Events is the microscope to Real-Time Metrics’ telescope. Rather than offering a sweeping view of the digital cosmos, Real-Time Events tackles singular events with a highly specific, laser focus. It does this using a complex query system, allowing you to build a sophisticated and unique query to seek out the answers to specific key questions. This query feeds off the same massive data pool that powers Real-Time Metrics’ broad, metrics-based scans, but its greater singularity of purpose enables it to collect fine-grained details in pursuit of its answer. If you’re looking to understand how your system has coped with a specific type of attack, and how you can better anticipate such an attack in the future, Real-Time Events will take you on a deep dive into the nitty gritty, showing you in-depth data on current blocked attacks and unsecure connections, as well as highlighting key successes and failures of past attacks. Its quick resolving queries cut into the tiniest niches of your enterprise with surgical precision, providing that critical micro-analysis aspect that any company must include when in pursuit of achieving total digital transparency and observability.

Data Streaming

Of course, analytics tools are only as good as the data that feeds them, and that's where Data streaming comes in. Azion Data Streaming is an analytics enablement tool, providing consistent and fault-tolerant real-time data delivery to support and empower our own and third-party data analytics tools. Designed to service the needs of our own edge platform, Azion Data Streaming is built to handle the raw data generated by thousands of edge nodes, giving it truly impressive processing power. Plus, it’s equipped with state of the art, end-to-end encryption, ensuring that all of that data remains accessible to you and only you.

Together, Real-Time Metrics, Real-Time Events, and Azion Data Streaming provide a nexus of data analytics capabilities, able to provide rich and complex insights from a multitude of angles and focuses. As a product suite, they represent Azion’s belief in system transparency. You should always be able to see what is happening in your system, and why it is happening, in real time. When connected to a strong security solution, like Azion WAF, they offer a dynamic and proactive approach to application security, ensuring that you have a data-driven advantage in every cyber skirmish.

Summary

Data analytics and web security are both incredibly valuable on their own, but when working together as security analytics, they synergize to create something truly beautiful: a smart security system with an ever-flowing stream of real-time data, and the processing power to turn all that information into invaluable defensive insights. With the right data analytics tools, such as Azion’s edge-based data analytics package, you and your customers can feel secure in the knowledge that whatever new attack comes your way, you’ll be ready.

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