What is User & Entity Behavior Analytics?: The Definitive Guide to User and Entity Behavior Analytics
In today’s digital-first business environment, 77 percent of organizations report making data-driven decisions to further company objectives and determine best practices. Increasingly, this applies to every business facet, including employee management.
90 percent of companies say that people analytics are a “core component of HR strategy, informing everything from hiring decisions to productivity patterns. It’s also a critical part of a holistic cybersecurity strategy, helping companies of all sizes identify and respond to insider threats.
Collectively, it’s estimated that 82 percent of data breaches involve the human element, including social attacks, errors, and misuse, making these insights more important than ever before.
User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) are the metrics that measure these important outcomes. Keep reading to learn about UEBA and its implications for companies looking to make data-driven decisions an integral part of their organization’s decision-making processes.
What is User & Entity Behavior Analytics?
UEBA, or user and entity behavior analytics, is a cybersecurity model that detects threats to a system by analyzing behaviors and flagging anomalous activity that deviates from the established behavioral baseline. Anomalous behaviors, like a sudden spike in network traffic or an off-hours sign-in, can be indicative of a threat, making UEBA a must-have tool in the security stacks of enterprise organizations and security-forward small businesses.
Enterprise businesses managing large workforces made up of full-time and part-time employees, contractors, and third-party vendors working both in-office and remotely often find gaps in their traditional security perimeters making it difficult to keep an eye on every user and employee signed into the system.
UEBA automates this process, providing a much-needed software solution to support human intelligence initiatives and cybersecurity teams.
How does User and Entity Behavior Analytics work?
By relying on intelligent machine learning, UEBA collects, processes, and analyzes the network activity of users and entities to establish a baseline behavioral reading. These readings are then gathered for each individual or aggregated by department, role, or for the entire organization. After the baseline behavior is set, the algorithm goes to work to identify user and entity behaviors within the system that exceed or fall below the determined baseline. These anomalous behaviors then alert the system to tell administrators and security teams that something odd is happening on the network.
Detecting these anomalous behaviors is the core of the user and entity behavior analytics function. To cause harm or exfiltrate data from a network or system, threat actors perform actions that are atypical of normal network activity, like accessing email accounts or cloud storage solutions.
Detecting an attack that’s using an employee’s compromised credentials is a practical example of UEBA in action. The machine learning and algorithms used by user and entity behavior analytics determine a normal behavior for activities attached to the employee. If a threat actor uses the employee’s credentials to access the network outside of working hours, from a different IP address, or begins accessing data the employee doesn’t normally use, transferring large amounts of data outside of what the employee typically transfers, a UEBA solution will raise an alert on these actions, and depending on its capabilities, block the actions and lock out the user.
User Behavior Analytics Use Cases
UEBA is dynamic software that accommodates many organizational use cases.
#1 Detect Insider Threats
Company insiders, including employees, contractors, and trusted third parties, pose a significant cybersecurity threat. This is especially true for intentional insiders who leverage their trusted status to compromise network integrity or data privacy on purpose. Their motivations are multifaceted. Some are looking to profit from their privileged access, while others may be disgruntled employees or people looking to benefit from a company’s digital resources.
By establishing normative behaviors, UEBA provides advanced threat identification using anomaly detection to identify potential insider threats.
#2 Detect Compromised Accounts
There are several ways threat actors can access employee accounts. UEBA’s anomaly detection makes it easier for businesses to identify illegitimate account access. When an account is being used in a way outside of its typical behavior, UEBA detects this, helping companies identify if an account has been compromised and if it’s being used nefariously.
#3 Detect Brute-force Attacks
Brute force attacks where threat actors use trial and error to access an account or IT network can persist indefinitely if companies don’t have tools to stop them. UEBA identifies unusual login attempts, spikes in traffic and other symptoms of a brute force attack; notifying cybersecurity teams that an attack may be taking place and allowing them to defend accounts and network integrity.
#4 Detect Changes in Permissions & Creation of Super Users
Malicious insiders or threat actors with account access can create super users with unfettered access to company data and IT infrastructure by using their privileged access to elevate an account’s access permissions. UEBA identifies if these changes are being done more than usual or if changes are being made by accounts not usually involved in permissioning. When heightened permission activity is detected, cybersecurity teams will be alerted.
#5 Detect Breach of Protected Data
Some company data must always stay protected, so employees viewing, manipulating, or distributing this information is a significant problem. UEBA can identify breaches of protected data by detecting if and which endpoints are exhibiting abnormal activity involving the protected data and alert administrators if mishandling or atypical conduct is detected.
Benefits of UEBA: Why Companies Need It
Simply put, today’s threat landscape extends beyond a company’s network perimeter. In many cases, the most significant threat includes people on the inside.
Meanwhile, the costs and consequences of a data breach or cybersecurity failure have never been higher. In 2022, data breach recovery costs businesses more than $4 million, while missed business opportunities and reputational damage have far-reaching repercussions for breach victims.
Whether companies are managing a small in-house workforce or an expansive hybrid team, UEBA is a critical defensive asset with incredible benefits for users.
Address A Wider Range of Cyberattacks
For years, companies have made significant financial and personnel investments in cybersecurity, hardening their perimeter defenses to account for a wide range of security threats.
However, threat actors have identified a new vulnerability, recognizing that while technical infrastructure might be secure, people are still vulnerable, opening the proverbial front door to a variety of attacks, including phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and IP theft.
Simply put, today’s companies face a wide range of cyberattacks. UEBA helps them meet the moment.
Require Fewer IT Analysts
Attracting and retaining top IT talent can be incredibly challenging. One report found that 83 percent of cybersecurity teams are negatively impacted by talent shortages,
As a result, cybersecurity teams are working harder than ever before, and many are burning out and leaving the profession. According to VentureBeat, 54 percent of cybersecurity professionals want to quit their jobs as they are outgunned and understaffed against the latest cybersecurity threats.
UEBA advances threat detection while requiring fewer IT analysts by leveraging AI data analysis validated by machine learning to improve cybersecurity outcomes without overtaxing teams.
In addition to guarding against expensive data breaches and cybersecurity incidents, UEBA reduces costs by deploying the power of AI and ML to reduce false positives and direct cybersecurity team efforts towards the most critical vulnerabilities.
Today’s companies are protecting more than just an internal network. With operations in the cloud and many employees working on remote or hybrid schedules, data access, misuse, or accidental exposure can happen anytime, anywhere.
UEBA never takes a break, analyzing and responding to user activity to facilitate cybersecurity outcomes.
Difference between UEBA and UBA security
User Behavior and Entity Analytics (UEBA) software analyzes human and machine activity, detecting anomalous behavior across a company’s digital infrastructure. The “entity” element means UEBA security products assess the behavior of humans and machines, including network devices and servers.
Meanwhile, User Behavior Analytics (UBA) software only accounts for human activity, limiting the software’s reach and impact. As other entities besides people can be leveraged to execute cyber attacks, UEBA represents a more comprehensive and effective cybersecurity strategy.
Three Pillars of UEBA
UEBA solutions analyze activity and report anomalous behavior from users and system objects, allowing companies to deploy this technology for a variety of use cases, including insider threat detection, fraud detection, compliance management, behavioral data loss, and more.
UEBA software accounts for multiple data sets, including on-network and on-devices analysis, to create incredible results that secure companies and drive better decisions.
UEBA software identifies anomalous activity using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms coupled with personalized rule-based analysis.
Getting Started with User and Entity Behavior Analytics from Teramind
Teramind’s powerful UEBA solution keeps enterprises protected in today’s complex threat landscape, delivering user and entity behavior analytics produced by AI data analysis and validated by machine learning.
UEBA Analytics Methods
UEBA communicates system and user activity irregularities, harnessing the power of AI and ML to analyze expansive data sets to determine irregularities. The analytics method includes:
- Creating a baseline data point for normative activities and schedules of employees, departments and the entire organization.
- Alerting cybersecurity teams if a user or entity begins showing symptoms of a data breach or attack, allowing professionals to quickly investigate and respond.
- Detecting compromised credentials by monitoring anomalous network activity attached to user login.
- Continuously monitoring system sign-ins and flag unrecognized login locations and times.
- Detecting if and which endpoints are exhibiting abnormal activity, even if they’re being controlled remotely.
By automating processes and refining data points, Teramind UEBA prevents a variety of cybersecurity threats while empowering cybersecurity teams with the insights needed to understand their increasingly expansive digital environments.
UEBA Best Practices
For companies adopting UEBA security solutions for the first time or refining processes to make the software more impactful for end users, here are four best practices that should inform and guide their efforts.
#1 Account for insider and external threat patterns when creating policies and rules.
Today’s threat landscape requires companies to account for a variety of threats, including insider and external threats. Therefore, don’t restrict the software’s impact by limiting the scope of your defensive efforts to just one threat category.
#2 Direct alerts to relevant management or cybersecurity team members.
UEBA solutions produce actionable insights that require a response. That’s why companies should direct alerts only to people who are positioned to take action. In other words, UEBA data should be accessible only on a “need to know” basis, and the people that need to know are those empowered to take action to investigate or respond to a potential threat.
#3 Include privileged and unprivileged users in the UEBA schema.
It’s not just disgruntled employees who become insider threats. Executives, managers, and team leads are prone to the same temptations to misuse as their peers lower on the org chart. UEBA isn’t just for everyday employees. It’s most effective when it applies to all stakeholders equally.
#4 Couple UEBA software with other cybersecurity solutions and best practices to achieve 360-degree protection.
UEBA is a difference-making cybersecurity asset, but it shouldn’t be your company’s defensive resource. Rather, UEBA software solutions play an important part in a holistic cybersecurity approach that provides 360-degree protection against any cybersecurity threat.
Insiders pose a significant cybersecurity risk that requires a response. UEBA supports better organizational outcomes by providing data-driven, AI-powered security solutions that identifies potential threats and empowers companies to respond before it’s too late. In today’s digital-first business landscape, it’s a must-have resource for companies looking to prioritize cybersecurity as an operational, financial, and reputation priority.
Defend and protect data using behavior analytics with Teramind