The rampant digital transformation has vastly broadened the scope of security threats and vulnerabilities to enterprise networks. Firewalls, security information and event management (SIEM), intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions, network traffic analysis (NTA) systems, and other signature tools each have their own blind spots and are often ineffective when it comes down to advanced threat detection and prevention. They will not always provide the security a network admin needs to protect the network and end users while preventing major hitches in performance. Behavior analytics, machine learning, and AI techniques, when integrated, utilize historical data to correlate events across longer time periods to acutely reduce the time spent on diagnostics. Improving the threat detection and incident response of a network's traffic management strategy is thereby highly reliant on the presence of a network detection and response (NDR) solution.
What is network detection and response?
Network detection and response is a solution that monitors an enterprise’s network to detect and prevent network traffic anomalies, cyber-security threats, insider attacks, and other non-malware risks. It provides greater visibility into a network’s network traffic activity, minimizing the significance of any potential threats or malicious behavior.
Real-time visibility into logs and network data is essential for effective network detection and response, and NDR solutions combine ML, AI, SOC, EDR, SIEM, and other analytical techniques to play a broader role in network traffic management than just network traffic analysis.
NDR creates a scalable, integrated security ecosystem that uses a Zero Trust approach to continuously monitor and detect internal and external threats that may have surpassed your firewall or other signature monitoring systems. It monitors every single host and conversation in real time to set performance baselines by applying techniques like ML to help raise alerts when these thresholds are violated. NDR automates quick and effective responses to these alerts to ensure compliance, security, and optimum performance.
Evolution of network detection and response
The NDR market has been prevalent since the 2000s when it first appeared as network behavior anomaly detection (NBAD) and then evolved into network traffic analysis (NTA) in the late 2010s. The NBAD to NTA transformation helped bridge the gap between network traffic pattern monitoring for anomaly detection and monitoring network flows for detecting security threats. In 2020, Gartner® formally defined the market as network detection and response, highlighting the importance of response in threat detection.
The NDR market exceeds $1 billion and is the second-fastest growing cybersecurity category with an expected 17% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next three years.
How network detection and response works and why you need an NDR solution: Modern solutions for modern threats
Networks have become the foundation of every enterprise. The continuously growing scale and complexity of networks, along with the adoption and extension to cloud and hybrid environments, has increased the attack surface extensively. With the huge amount of data generated in networks and the absence of network traffic visibility, impending threats can go undetected. This is why NTA solutions have been the first line of defense for most organizations. NDR uses a toolkit of advanced algorithms and programs to prevent cyber threats, much like EDR solutions. It leverages ML, AI, and other non-traditional methods to provide in-depth network visibility. NDR uses network traffic data to identify known and unknown attacks and patterns. It also identifies post-attack patterns to curtail the impact of attacks on the network and end users.
EDR vs. NDR
NDR analyzes network traffic data across the network to gain visibility to stop attacks, unlike EDR solutions that use an agent to prevent anomalous activity. NDR does not prevent attacks but provides an added level of security by taking a network-based approach to detect any threats or attackers that have sneaked past solutions like EDR.
End-to-end visibility: Monitoring remote, cloud environments, and BYOD
Contextual end-to-end network visibility is what helps security systems monitor and analyze network traffic and get a comprehensive view of the devices and users in a network. This not only helps detect threats but also enables transparency into what data is being transferred across the network, which users are active on the network, and what applications the users interact with. With organizations moving to hybrid and cloud-first strategies, NDR solutions provide the required visibility into multiple environments.
A rule-based approach to threat detection makes some detection tools outmoded and ineffective. NDR solutions track and define network traffic behavior and performance baselines with deep packet analysis, facilitating AI-powered ML models in threat and anomaly detection and classification.
Lateral movement allows threats to masquerade as normal network traffic or even gain administrative access. This can lead to stolen credentials and device data. While IDPS was once the go-to solution for lateral movement detection, the method is now becoming obsolete. Traffic monitoring is limited to what passes through the network's firewall and relies primarily on signatures. Setting thresholds for hosts to detect lateral movement does not work in large organizations, as there is no one threshold that fits every individual host. Behavior analysis combined with ML lets NDR monitor the network on a per-host basis.
Threat hunting and unknown threat detection
Threat hunting involves isolating outliers, analyzing and classifying them, and taking the necessary action. Signature tools, rules, predefined algorithms, and threat intelligence fail when detecting unknown attacks from unknown threat actors. Undetected attackers can stay hidden in the network. NDR solutions that integrate AI and ML with threat hunters help uncover threats that security solutions often miss. This includes anomalies and outliers, known and ongoing threats, hidden threats, and unknown threats.
Network forensics, while primarily used as a solution for malware detection, is also an effective means to monitor your network for anomalies in traffic proactively and for network behavior analysis. NDR detects potential attacks and analyzes attack patterns and traffic trends to establish a behavior baseline, which helps reduce the diagnosis time and improve the threat detection skills of network admins.
Signature tools like ML solutions detect threats and anomalies based on performance baselines and historic trends. NDR enhanced with AI and ML should be able to analyze data and correlate with global threat intelligence to uncover anomalies and attacks that endpoint security or log-based solutions provide no visibility into.
NDR solutions seamlessly connect to security tools to take immediate action to troubleshoot and block threats. They enable automated response for fast resolution. NDR uses AI and ML to detect and prevent phishing attacks and internal threats by conducting attack campaign analysis, detecting affected users and devices, and steadily monitoring the network for real-time security.
The finest NDR solutions provide highly accurate alerts prioritized by type and severity and automated response to save network admins and security teams time and effort, to elevate threat hunting and response potential.
Moving beyond IDPS and NTA with ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer
Network detection and response solutions lean towards automatic detection and response against network traffic anomalies and threats using a Zero Trust approach for monitoring and analysis. With NetFlow Analyzer's advanced forensics and security features, ML-based forecasting, and out-of-the-box integrations, achieve contextual real-time visibility from an aggregation of data.
ManageEnginge NetFlow Analyzer is a full-featured bandwidth monitoring and network traffic analysis solution. It is a flow-based software that runs on both Windows and Linux machines and supports a wide range of flow formats and devices. It integrates seamlessly with various in-house and third-party applications to provide users with a comprehensive and custom network detection and response solution. Download a free trial of NetFlow Analyzer now!