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Bolstering Endpoint Security: Managed Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Lorna Jones

Lorna Jones, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
Jan 22, 2024

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  • The Calm Before the Storm: Why Energy Firms Need Proactive Endpoint Security

    The year is 2025. Jane, a security analyst at a major oil and gas company, arrives at work, coffee in hand, ready to take on whatever the day brings. As she logs into her system, things seem quiet—almost too calm. But Jane knows better than to assume everything is fine. The energy sector has become a prime target for cyber-attacks aiming to disrupt critical infrastructure. A lack of abnormal activity on the endpoints could mean malicious actors are lurking undetected on the network or even ransomware being primed for detonation.

    Fortunately, Jane has a secret weapon to stay ahead of the bad actors—a managed EDR solution providing 24/7 vigilance over the business's endpoints. The advanced AI built into the platform continuously analyses endpoint activity and detects subtle anomalies that may be early indicators of an attack. Just last month, it identified a suspicious PowerShell sequence on a domain controller before any damage could occur.

    The EDR platform also gives Jane complete visibility and control to investigate and contain threats remotely. Last year, the EDR partner's expert threat hunters uncovered a stealthy attacker performing reconnaissance on industrial control systems. The danger was isolated minutes before any impact on operations. Jane knows she can rely on the managed service's round-the-clock support if incidents occur outside office hours.

    Like Jane, forward-thinking energy firms are utilising managed EDR to gain the upper hand in today's constantly evolving threat landscape...

    The Growing Cybersecurity Imperative for Energy Organizations

    Critical infrastructure sectors like energy face an increasingly hostile cyber climate as attackers set their sights on disrupting vital services. A confluence of factors makes energy companies prime targets:
  • Energy firms house troves of precious data related to exploration, drilling, production forecasts, pricing, and more. Threat actors seek to steal this intellectual property and insider knowledge for profit or leverage it for insider trading on energy stocks and commodities.
  • Disruption of operations through cyber-attacks can have catastrophic public impacts and safety risks. Taking down power grids, pipelines, or generation facilities gives attackers leverage to extort hefty ransoms under threat of disruption, as seen in recent attacks on Colonial Pipeline and European gas companies.
  • Legacy industrial control systems, operational technology, and production networks often have vulnerabilities from outdated hardware, unpatched software, and a lack of monitoring. These gaps offer enticing access points for infiltrating deeper into environments.
  • As energy infrastructure adopts more IoT sensors, smart meters, and cloud analytics, the attack surface and entry points for adversaries expand exponentially.
  • Recent statistics demonstrate the severity of threats energy companies now face:

    To mitigate risks, energy firms must prioritise securing information technology and operational technology infrastructure. A foundational component is implementing robust endpoint protection, given that compromised endpoints are gateways to broader network access.

    The Critical Blindspot: Why Traditional Endpoint Security Falls Short

    Legacy signature-based antivirus solutions are no longer sufficient for catching sophisticated endpoint threats. Attackers are adept at evading detection, often by exploiting 'zero-day' vulnerabilities unknown to vendors.

    Many cyber incidents are not detected for months or even years after the initial compromise. IBM's 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report found that it takes an average of 212 days for an organisation to identify a breach. This extended 'dwell time' allows threats to dig deeper into the network undetected.

    Antivirus and firewalls also rely heavily on rules and manual updates. But today's polymorphic malware and zero-days change forms rapidly to sidestep defences. By the time new signatures are released, there may be more time.
    Finally, basic antivirus needs more context beyond individual endpoints to connect the dots between environmental threat activities. SecOps teams are left with significant visibility gaps, unable to reveal the full scope of attacks.
    These challenges showcase why more than dependence on traditional endpoint controls is needed.

    EDR to the Rescue: Continuous Visibility and Automated Response

    EDR solutions are purpose-built to overcome the shortcomings of legacy endpoint security tools. Key capabilities include:

    Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure have increased by nearly 50% since 2018, per the World Economic Forum.

    According to IBM, the energy sector ranks #2 in cybercriminals and nation-state actors' most frequently targeted industries.

    High-impact threats like ransomware, ICS malware, and stealthy network infiltration can entirely cripple multinational energy operations leading to astronomical economic damages.

    • Continuous endpoint monitoring: EDR sensors collect extensive telemetry on user, network, application, and file activity across endpoints. Advanced behavioural analytics and machine learning detect anomalous patterns signalling potential threats.
    • Real-time threat visibility: Security teams gain unified visibility into suspicious activities and threat behaviours unfolding across the environment via centralised dashboards and alerts.
    • Rapid incident response: EDR platforms contain advanced isolation, threat hunting, and remediation capabilities to enable immediate actions against threats without waiting for antivirus signature updates.
    • Proactive threat hunting: Expert threat hunters leverage EDR data to systematically hunt for attacker behaviours and evidence of compromise across endpoints. It allows for discovering advanced threats missed by other controls.
    • Forensic data and analysis: Detailed historical data on endpoint activities facilitates rapid forensic investigations and root cause analysis during or after incidents.
    • Automated response actions: Security teams can configure playbooks with specific response workflows to automatically execute once threats are detected to stop attacks' spread.

    With advanced AI resolving endpoint blind spots and automating threat response, EDR is the last line of defence to disrupt intrusions quickly.

    Opting for Managed EDR Services

    EDR solutions provide indispensable visibility and protection for endpoints. Yet many energy firms may need in-house expertise to implement, run, and optimise a self-managed EDR platform...

    Why Managed EDR Trumps DIY Security

    Opting for a managed EDR provider delivers key advantages over implementing EDR solo:

    • Reduced burden: Service providers manage, monitor, tune, and regularly update the EDR platform. It alleviates the need to hire and train specialised staff to run EDR in-house.
    • Enhanced monitoring: Around-the-clock monitoring by the provider's SOC and expert threat hunting surface hard-to-detect threats faster.
    • Rapid incident response: The provider's experienced team can isolate infected endpoints and guide remediation in minutes without waiting for internal resources.
    • Increased scalability: The service flexes alongside evolving business needs, deploying consistent security policies across locations and endpoints.
    • Ongoing optimisation: Providers continuously tailor detection analytics and response playbooks to address new attacker behaviours and techniques.
    • Industry-specific security: Leading managed EDR firms bring experience securing other energy companies and critical infrastructure organisations.

    With limited IT resources, energy players stand to gain significantly from letting specialists handle EDR, while internal talent focuses on the company's core business.

    Choosing the Right Managed EDR Partner

    With the growing market of managed EDR providers, energy firms must vet potential partners closely rather than choosing name recognition alone. The ideal provider brings specialised expertise in securing industrial environments, advanced endpoint analytics, and robust response capabilities tailored to OT infrastructure needs.

    Seeking the following attributes can help energy companies pick the optimal MDR partner:

    • They must have demonstrated experience securing ICS environments, critical infrastructure, and other OT systems. Knowledge of protocols like Modbus is vital. Ask for specific energy sector clients and success stories.
    • The utilisation of advanced machine learning and behavioural analytics tailored to detect threats from normal operational behaviour across IT and OT. Anomaly detection matters more than signatures.
    • Their visibility into industrial asset activity and traditional IT systems like Active Directory must be top-notch. Holistic coverage is vital for interconnected OT/IT environments.
    • They must have comprehensive response capacities, including real-time alerting, remote containment of infected hosts, threat hunting, forensic analysis, and steps to return endpoints to known good states.
    • API integration with SIEM, firewall, and other security tools enriches enterprise threat intelligence.
    • Incident response experience assisting clients in the energy sector with intrusions targeting ICS and industrial networks specifically.
    • They know regulations like NERC CIP and have experience helping clients meet critical infrastructure cybersecurity mandates through managed EDR.

    Leading providers like Cybereason, CrowdStrike, and SentinelOne meet these criteria with EDR purpose-built for complex critical infrastructure needs. Their offerings give energy security teams the best chance of success defending against tenacious attackers.
    In summary, optimal steps for choosing a managed EDR partner include the following:
    Seek energy sector expertise in securing OT environments
    Require advanced OT-focused analytics and behavioural detection
    Demand holistic visibility across IT and OT infrastructure
    Verify comprehensive response capabilities are included
    Ensure integration with existing security tools
    Review the Energy Sector Incident Response Experience
    Validate knowledge of critical infrastructure regulations

    Securing Critical Infrastructure for the Future

    As cyber risks grow, energy organisations require a sea change in endpoint security strategy. EDR solutions address the shortfalls of traditional antivirus by combining continuous behavioural monitoring, advanced analytics, and automated response. Adopting EDR as part of a defence-in-depth security posture allows energy firms to detect stealthy threats early and disrupt attacks before they trigger operational havoc or data theft.
    Tapping managed EDR services unlocks additional advantages. Partners like Cybereason allow energy players to benefit from industry-leading EDR capabilities and threat expertise while focusing internal resources on core operations. With hackers constantly honing attacks against critical infrastructure, turning to 24/7 managed detection and response makes sense.
    Like Jane, energy security teams can gain the capacity and confidence to tackle today's most significant endpoint threats through managed EDR. The time for proactive endpoint defence is now.

    The Next Step: Join Industry Leaders in Proactive Endpoint Protection

    The message for energy sector security leaders is clear - endpoint threats can no longer be underestimated or left to legacy antivirus alone. Recent breaches have shown that the potential disruption from compromised endpoints makes adopting proactive EDR essential.
    Fortunately, energy companies don't have to tackle EDR alone. Industry leaders have partnered with MicrominderCS to implement managed EDR powered by 24/7 monitoring, response, and expertise.
    MicrominderCS offers an EDR platform purpose-built for industrial environments. Our solution integrates seamlessly across IT and OT infrastructure with analytics that leave no endpoint blindspot. Our skilled threat hunters proactively scour endpoints across client environments for signs of compromise.
    We serve as an on-demand extension of clients' security teams. Our EDR service and specialists provide the force multiplication needed to defend complex energy environments against world-class attackers.
    The time has come for energy companies to gain the upper hand against sophisticated endpoint threats before they lead to catastrophe. Join the energy leaders worldwide that trust MicrominderCS as their proactive EDR partner. Contact us today to implement the same endpoint platform relied on by major energy providers globally. Take the next step in security with MicrominderCS.

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