File integrity monitoring
What is file integrity monitoring (FIM)?
FIM refers to the ongoing process of tracking real-time changes made to files and folders. This helps in identifying if or when the files have been tampered with. Monitoring file integrity has become essential to spot and thwart cyberthreats. This includes tracking unauthorized alterations to business-critical files, identifying suspicious file access patterns, and scrutinizing file security permission changes.
Why is file integrity monitoring important?
File integrity is a measure of the CIA triad, which includes confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. It is vital for businesses to establish the CIA triad in order to ensure the secure storage of critical data. The following aspects make it important to continuously assess file integrity:
To protect sensitive data
Files that contain important data, such as the personal information of customers, have to be under constant surveillance. Rapid changes to these files could indicate a malware infection or illicit insider activity. Hence, admins have to proactively monitor vital files for unauthorized modifications and transfers.
To monitor security changes
A shift of file permissions to large groups or excessive use of admin privileges are the initial indicators of a security breach. File server auditing software can help track security permission changes to files, and possibly stop a potential breach.
To spot malicious insiders
File integrity isn't just for examining unauthorized changes; it can be used to study user behavior as well. With the help of user behavior analytics (UBA), admins can analyze how an employee stores, retrieves, and manages files. For instance, files accessed outside business hours, movement of sensitive files, etc. might indicate an impending insider attack.
To detect cyberattacks
FIM can help prevent dangerous data threats, and helps minimize the scale and impact of attacks. Dynamic file integrity monitoring software can rapidly detect and respond to ransomware attacks, unlawful exfiltration of data, and more.
How to approach file integrity monitoring
FIM is a continuous process that runs parallel to all other security measures to forestall disastrous data leaks and breaches on time. Dynamic data loss prevention software, in combination with a file integrity monitoring tool, can help track all file movements and modifications, enabling you to spot and respond to unauthorized activity right away. Additionally, integrate the FIM tool with your existing security information and event management (SIEM) setup to develop a comprehensive track-and-combat system towards data threats.