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Advanced Threat Detection: Managed Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Lorna Jones

Lorna Jones, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
Jan 22, 2024

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The Telltale Heartbeat of a Breached Bank

It was a dark and stormy night when the call came in - hackers had compromised the perimeter defences of First National Bank, gaining a foothold in the core financial systems. The security team sprang into action, firewalls raised, and antivirus scanners deployed. But this was no ordinary cyberattack.

An advanced persistent threat (APT) group had carefully choreographed this breach over many months. Custom-built malware slithered through the network, evading traditional controls. The initial intrusion triggered no alarms - it was a ghost in the machine.
By the time strange connections and abnormal behaviours raised red flags, the hackers had already unpacked their tools deep inside First National's servers. Critical data was being targeted for exfiltration. The security team was in over their heads, unable to keep pace with this sophisticated threat actor on their turf.

First National realised they needed to level the playing field. If this spectre would haunt their systems, they required the cybersecurity equivalent of paranormal investigators - a managed endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution.  

The Rise of Evasive Threats Demands Advanced Detection

Cyberattacks have never been more prevalent or challenging. Phishing, ransomware, supply chain attacks, and file-less malware grew by over 350% during the pandemic. Banking and financial institutions are prime targets for these schemes. In 2021 alone, it impacted over 50 million customers by data breaches in the financial sector.
While traditional security tools like antivirus and firewalls remain essential, they are blind to the red flags of sophisticated threats:
Polymorphic Malware
Traditional antivirus relies on malware databases and signature-based detection. Attackers evade this by rapidly modifying malware to create new variants faster than signatures can keep up. Polymorphic strains like Emotet randomly alter their code to generate unique copies that slip past static defences.
File-less Malware
Malware strains like PowerShell malware and Kovter leave no footprint on the filesystem. They execute entirely in system memory, avoiding scanning by file-based antivirus tools. Between 2020 and 2021, file-less attacks grew by over 150% as adversaries embraced this stealthy technique.
Network-Based Threats
From man-in-the-middle attacks to DNS hijacking, network-based threats don't touch individual endpoints. Perimeter firewalls are also ineffective once attackers are inside the network. It leaves a blind spot for low-and-slow techniques that evade traditional controls.
Unknown Zero-Days
The vast majority of successful cyberattacks exploit unknown zero-day vulnerabilities. In 2021, zero days were linked to over a third of reported breaches. Since these bugs have no known signature or pattern, they bypass traditional static defences.
While foundational controls will always be crucial, modern detection requires a new approach - the ability to analyse endpoint activity and uncover anomalies indicative of breach. EDR combines next-gen antivirus, behaviour monitoring, and analytics to expose advanced threats that dodge traditional tools.

Real-life Incidents Reported

"In 2021, a sophisticated threat actor known as Lazarus Group launched a highly targeted attack on several banks in Latin America. They used fake job ads to compromise bank employees and gain an initial foothold. Their lateral movement went undetected for months without behavioural analytics and endpoint visibility from EDR."
"A series of ATM jackpotting attacks were uncovered in the US in 2018 targeting Diebold Nixdorf ATMs. Hackers were able to install malware and illegally withdraw millions. EDR behavioural monitoring detected the unusual late-night ATM activity, and automated threat containment prevented additional losses."
"In 2019, one of the largest US banks suffered a data breach via a compromised third-party supplier. Screen Scraping malware targeted login credentials for over 100 financial applications. EDR was able to pinpoint unusual memory behaviour indicative of the scraper malware during post-breach analysis."
"The infamous 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist saw hackers compromise SWIFT software to steal $81 million. EDR behavioural models for typical SWIFT transactions and user activity could have detected anomalous money transfers in real-time and flagged them for investigation."
"A variant of the Zeus banking Trojan surfaced in 2020 with evasive techniques like anti-analysis and anti-detection to avoid traditional scanners. Behaviour-based EDR detected the suspicious process injections and memory behaviour indicative of the Trojan."
"During a GLBA audit in 2019, a regional bank was cited for gaps in unknown threat detection. Implementing managed EDR provided compliance-ready threat hunting and visibility needed to pass their next audit."

The common thread across these incidents was sophisticated, stealthy attackers evading conventional controls. Specialised behavioural analytics and endpoint visibility from EDR solutions uncovered the subtle indicators of compromise missed by other layers.

Managed EDR Takes Detection and Response to the Next Level

Mature organisations are taking threat detection even further with managed EDR services. Partnering with an expert provider like Cybereason, IBM, or Crowdstrike unlocks additional capabilities:
24/7 Threat Monitoring and Alerting
With around-the-clock monitoring by security analysts, threats are noticed during off-hours. Suspicious endpoint activity is detected as it occurs rather than passing silently through the night. Analysts also tune alerts to cut through the noise and highlight critical incidents.
Proactive Threat Hunting
EDR gives security teams eyes into endpoint activity, but making sense of endless data is difficult. Elite threat hunters from managed services providers utilise tactics like hypothesis-driven hunting to uncover adversaries that evade existing controls. Their experience with real-world response finds threats before significant damage is done.
Advanced Analytics with Petabyte-Scale Data
Managed providers have access to vast amounts of threat data across client environments. It provides unmatched context for pinpointing anomalies and recognising attack patterns. AI and machine learning at the petabyte scale also automate tedious data analysis to focus human analysts on critical threats.
Rapid Remote Incident Response
Every second counts when containing an intrusion, but delays caused by travel and setup of on-site resources slow many IR teams down. Managed EDR partners can initiate remote response immediately to isolate infected endpoints, kill malicious processes, and collect evidence.
Automated Containment and Remediation
Managed providers save time by automating routine containment tasks like suspending user accounts, blocking IP addresses, and rolling back changes. Repeatable checks ensure remediation is verified. Security teams can focus on strategic response decisions rather than manual clean-up.
Compliance Reporting and Audit Support
Gathering data and producing reports for PCI audits can be painfully manual.
Managed EDR partners to handle compliance documentation and provide critical data for audits and regulations like SOX. It removes a burden from security staff.

By combining world-class expertise with advanced security infrastructure, managed EDR takes endpoint detection, threat hunting, and incident response to the next level. It allows lean banking security teams to have an army of cybersecurity specialists on their side 24/7.
This fully-managed approach allows lean security teams to tap into the resources of specialists. Around-the-clock vigilance also removes detection blind spots.
According to Gartner, organisations using managed detection and response (MDR) services report a 60% faster mean time to containment. Every minute counts for banks fending off cyberattacks when adversaries have their fingers in sensitive systems.

Tuned for the Unique Threat Landscape of Financial Institutions

Banks have unique infrastructure, regulations and threats - a one-size-fits-all approach to security doesn't cut it. EDR, explicitly designed for the finance vertical, provides tailored protection.
On-premises deployment options allow security controls to reside within bank networks, avoiding the latency of the public cloud. AI that learns normal behaviour across ATMs, PoS systems, trading platforms and core banking apps provides specialised behavioural profiling. Compliance mandates baking PCI DSS, GLBA and SOX into reporting.
Use cases like uncovering attacks on SWIFT transactions, ATM jackpotting, and fast-moving ransomware are part of the solution design. Hunting threats across hundreds of thousands of endpoints is critical for large institutions.

Integration and Orchestration Strengthens the Security Stack

EDR should integrate seamlessly across the security ecosystem. Correlating insights from EDR, firewalls, secure email gateways, SIEMs, and other tools provides comprehensive monitoring—shared threat intelligence across vendor's arms defences with the latest IOCs and tactics.

Orchestrating containment Actions like isolating infected machines, resetting passwords, and patching vulnerabilities automatically increase incident response speed. Closed-loop remediation verifies threats are fully mitigated.

This unified approach to visibility and control provides CISOs with a force multiplier. They streamline workflows through a single glass pane—reducing alert fatigue by better grouping and prioritising threats. Analysts spend less time on routine tasks and more time hunting.
The banking industry's high-value data makes it crucial to see threats through a multi-dimensional lens. EDR designed for the finance sector, brings together endpoint visibility, advanced analytics, human expertise, and security integration - the layers needed to expose sophisticated attacks.

While perimeter defences will always be important, EDR is emerging as the heartbeat monitor for advanced threats inside the organisation. When even a spectral anomaly appears, the pulse quickens and specialised incident responders spring into action. This 24/7 vigilance ensures critical systems won't become the next victim with a chilling epitaph: The telltale heartbeat went silent before anyone realised it was getting smothered.

The Next Step for Security Leaders in Banking

Sophisticated threats demand sophisticated defences. As cyberattacks grow in frequency and complexity, the banking industry must adapt to stay secure.
Over 2500 organisations are already embracing next-gen endpoint protection to detect advanced threats. As leaders in the finance sector, we have a duty to our customers and stakeholders to remain at the forefront of cybersecurity.
It's time to evolve endpoint security with managed EDR:

  • Gain 24/7 threat monitoring and elite threat hunting from cybersecurity specialists
  • Uncover evasive threats like file-less malware, zero-days, and APTs
  • Accelerate response times with automated containment and remediation
  • Simplify compliance audits and reporting
  • Protect our bottom line from data breaches and cyber incidents

Join leading banks and credit unions partnered with MicroMinderCS to implement managed.
EDR. Our solutions provide advanced threat visibility, real-time hunting, and rapid response to secure modern banking.
We've helped clients thwart multi-million dollar attempted heists, uncover targeted intrusions, and comply with rigorous industry regulations. Our experts become an extension of your team to enhance capabilities.
Be sure to update defences before the subsequent major industry breach. Contact our MicroMinderCS team today to learn how managed EDR can protect your business now and in the future.

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