/ Digital Workspaces Guide / Chapter 3: Analytics

Security and performance analytics

In 2020 there were 1,001 data breaches in the United States with more than 155.8 million people victims of data exposure. With the average cost of each data breach a whopping $3.86 million, it’s a no-brainer for businesses to do all they can to keep their networks secure.

User behavior analytics (UBA) is a way for businesses to harness the power of big data and machine learning to protect their systems by monitoring user activity. With more employees working remotely and an increase in desktop virtualization, monitoring user activity has become both more necessary and easier.

Imagery illustrating how user behavior analytics interconnects.

What is user behavior analytics (UBA)?

User behavior analytics monitors systems for behavioral anomalies that could indicate the presence of a hacker in the network. By focusing on what the user is doing within the system, user behavior analytics software can discover patterns of usage to detect anomalies and raise red flags when they occur.

Statistical models of typical user behavior and algorithms are used by a UBA platform to pinpoint threats and notify administrators in real-time.

Illustration showcasing how user behavior analytics work.

How does user behavior analytics work?

UBA works by monitoring and analyzing the way a user acts when accessing a system. Large amounts of data concerning when and where users login, email activity, and accessing of files are gathered to notice patterns of use.

The patterns a user behavior analytics platform detects allow it to make predictions about user behavior and sound alarms when user behavior deviates from what is expected.

Deviations that could be cause for concern may include repeated failed login attempts or increased migration of files. The platform’s hacker-detection algorithm sounds an alarm in real-time when anomalies are found.

How does user behavior analytics support organizations?

User behavior analytics helps organizations detect threats more quickly than typical perimeter defense and other cybersecurity tools. Real-time responses to threats are made possible with UBA thanks to unique features that set it apart from other security solutions.

A few notable ways in which UBA helps businesses include:

  • Discovering compromised accounts: By noticing behavioral anomalies, UBA can pinpoint compromised accounts.
  • Identifying insider threats: Insiders who pose a threat to an organization’s security exhibit behavior different from typical users. User behavior analytics security is able to identify insider threats despite the bad actors having valid credentials.
  • Identifying accounts to avoid misusage: While monitoring accounts, UBA can notice if accounts are violating company policy or are being neglectful with sensitive data.
  • Monitoring cloud security: Many cybersecurity tools have difficulty monitoring the remote nature of cloud platforms. UBA can monitor cloud-based applications to see if they are exhibiting strange behavior as a group.
  • Entity monitoring: UBA can monitor entities such as sensors, IoT devices, and more to see if they might be compromised and are deviating from typical behavior.

 

What is security analytics?

Security analytics uses machine learning and data analytics to provide a proactive form of cybersecurity that detects suspicious activity. With this information security analytics can offer an advanced defense against hackers.

Data gathered from applications, asset metadata, threat intelligence, geolocation, and more is aggregated and analyzed to detect potential threats and provide a real-time response.

Differences between user behavior analytics (UBA) and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA)

User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) is an extension of UBA which takes the security a step further. In addition to analyzing user behavior, UEBA models behavior and detects anomalies in entities such as:

  • Routers
  • Servers
  • Software
  • IT devices
  • Endpoints

UEBA essentially widens the net of UBA to analyze non-human elements which could exhibit erratic behavior. Profiling additional entities, aside from just users, provides better cybersecurity that can pinpoint threats and respond accordingly.

Benefits of user behavior analytics security solutions

UBA benefits businesses by offering a new way of confronting security threats which traditional security measures are unable to detect. A few key ways in which UBA is beneficial include:

  • Identity management data: UBA allows businesses to identify compromised accounts by flagging anomalous behavior.
  • Network traffic: Sudden increases in network traffic and other erratic network behavior are detected and acted upon in real time.
  • Cloud traffic: UBA monitors cloud-based entities and notices any abnormal group behavior.
  • Non-IT contextual data: Background information collected by UBA develops a broad picture of users and events, providing insight that can improve user experience (UX).
  • Real-time or near real-time performance: UBA constantly monitors user activity and compares it to established patterns of behavior. Alerts can be issued and action taken as soon as anomalous behavior takes place.
  • Proof of compliance during an audit: When regulated businesses face a compliance audit, proving that security and handling of sensitive data are being done properly is easier with UBA.

What are the components of a UBA solution?

UBA clearly offers advantages that are not to be found in other cybersecurity solutions. Of course, properly deploying a UBA platform requires a solid understanding of the technology.

There are three key components to any successful UBA solution:

  • Data analytics: Data is collected to develop a statistical model of what is considered “normal” user behavior and detect “abnormal” behavior.
  • Data integration: UBA systems collect packets, logs and other data to compare with data from existing security systems on networks, IoT devices, and more.
  • Data presentation: The information security data analytics process continues with the presentation of findings from the UBA system to analysts who investigate strange behavior.

Ways to leverage user behavior analytics

UBA is a valuable tool for businesses looking to increase their security, but with the amount of data such a process collects, there are several ways UBA can be leveraged, including:

  • Planning for next projects: UBA provides insight into which apps and files are being accessed by users, information that can be used to help delegate responsibility and determine bandwidth for future projects.
  • Launching and monitoring: New apps and software that are launched can be monitored to evaluate acceptance and rollout. Frequent users can be targeted to assess user experience and ways to improve.
  • Measuring success: UBA provides insight into how well a network is functioning for its users. UBA provides both:
    • Quantitative data: Numbers that show how often apps are used and data is accessed, letting organizations know which are the most successful and important.
    • Qualitative data: Data that show why some files or apps are not as successful. It could show that users are skipping tutorials or are having a difficult time navigating folders—providing insight into what improvements can be made.

What to look for in a UBA solution

Now that the benefits of user behavior analytics and its advantage over traditional cybersecurity measures are clear, it’s time to learn how to pick the right user behavior analytics platform.

Three important qualities to look for in a UBA provider are:

Scalability

A UBA platform must be able to analyze user data along with current and historic security incidents across multiple systems. UBA involves data from numerous files, apps, emails, and more and a good platform can handle such large quantities.

Multiple data classes

A good UBA platform has broad functionality and the ability to handle security data as well as historic data. Granular level metadata such as users, permissions, and access times for multiple users are vital to develop a statistical model and detect aberrant behavior.

Streamlined and secure deployments

In addition to analyzing data, UBA software needs to contextualize the data and make it accessible to the appropriate parties. Tracking user behavior and deploying data in real-time is essential to stopping hackers.

User behavior data that is collected and the statistical models are sensitive data themselves and must be stored and transmitted securely.

Conclusion

User behavior analytics is a bold step forward in cybersecurity that harnesses the power of big data and machine learning to take proactive steps in keeping companies’ data protected.

In addition to the increased security provided by UBA, the data collected can offer valuable insights into how files are accessed and how apps and software are used. Such insights can lead to more effective rollouts of new software and a deeper understanding of how information flows in a company.

Choosing the right UBA provider is key to taking full advantage of all that user behavior analytics has to offer. Experienced providers that can handle large amounts of data and provide real-time responses are a few indicators of good UBA platforms.

Securing company data is top of mind for businesses with the ever-growing threat of hackers and data theft, UBA is the latest cybersecurity solution for an increasingly digitized business world.

FAQs

How does user behavior analytics work?

User behavior analytics (UBA) tracks and analyzes user data regarding files accessed, applications launched, and other network activity to search for patterns and anomalies.

What is user behavior analytics?

User behavior analytics is a way to detect hackers inside a system based on behavioral anomalies such as repeated login attempts and migration of files.

What is security analytics?

Security analytics is a form of proactive cybersecurity which uses machine learning and data analytics to detect suspicious activity. Security analytics solutions provide real-time responses to detected threats.